Research / Blogs

Advanced Undergraduate Courses | FALL 2017


Advanced undergraduate courses to be offered during the fall 2017 semester. Please contact LAIC's Director of Undergraduate Studies should you have any questions.


  • Advanced Language Through Content (SPAN UN3300)

An intensive exposure to advanced points of Spanish grammar and structure through written and oral practice, along with an introduction to the basic principles of academic composition in Spanish. Each section is based on the exploration of an ample theme that serves as the organizing principle for the work done in class (Please consult the Directory of Classes for the topic of each section.) This course is required for the major and the concentration in Hispanic Studies.

  • Hispanic Cultures I (SPAN UN3349)

Provides students with an overview of the cultural history of the Hispanic world, from eighth-century Islamic and Christian Spain and the pre-Hispanic Americas through the late Middle Ages and Early Modern period until about 1700, covering texts and cultural artifacts from both Spain and the Americas. All primary materials, class discussion, and assignments are in Spanish.

  • Hispanic Cultures II (SPAN UN3350)

This course surveys the cultural production of Spain and Latin America from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries. Students will acquire the knowledge needed to study the cultural manifestations of the Hispanic world in the context of modernity. Among the issues and events studied will be the Enlightenment as ideology and practice, the Napoleonic invasion of Spain, the wars of Latin American independence, the fin-de-siècle and the cultural avant-gardes, the wars and revolutions of the twentieth century (Spanish Civil War, the Mexican and Cuban revolutions), neoliberalism, globalization, and the Hispanic presence in the United States. The goal of the course is to study some key moments of this trajectory through the analysis of representative texts, documents, and works of art. All primary materials, class discussion, and assignments are in Spanish.

A seminar based on a great variety of primary sources and theoretical texts that help to rethink, from the vantage point of the early modern period, the most unexpected sides of a process today called “globalization.”


This conversation class will help students develop their oral proficiency in Portuguese. We will discuss current events, participate in challenging pronunciation exercises, improve understanding of Portuguese idioms, develop conversation strengths, confront weaknesses, and increase fluency in spoken Portuguese.

Gender/Genre: Bodies of Culture | An intensive exposure to advanced points of Portuguese grammar and structure through written and oral practice, along with an introduction to the basic principles of academic composition in Portuguese. Each section is based on the exploration of an ample theme that serves as the organizing principle for the work done in class. This will serve as the topical context to review advanced points of Portuguese grammar and structure through written and oral practice, and to introduce the basic principles of academic composition in Portuguese, particularly those pertaining to narration and description. This course is required for the concentration  in Portuguese Studies. “Brasil: Favela e carnaval” intends to offer an exploration of issues related to poverty, race and violence through cultural phenomena manifested in fiction, music, film and media in today´s Brazilian society. This course is required for the concentration in Portuguese Studies.

This course introduces students to crucial intellectual and cultural trajectories traversing fields such as gender, race, sexuality, religion, media, technology, aesthetics, politics, and popular cultures in modern and contemporary Brazil. Historical periods will be presented in connection to a particular theme of ongoing cultural expressions. Diverse elements of popular culture are included in order to grasp an ample understanding of the underlying Brazilian historical moments. Students are expected to comprehend the background information but are also encouraged to develop their own perspectives and interests, whether in the social sciences, arts, gender and sexuality, or other areas of knowledge. Students will actively approach Brazilian history and produce analytical and critical approaches to understand and account for the intricacies underlying the dynamic development of Brazilian civilization to the contemporary moment.


  • Visual Cultures and Ethnicities of Latin America (PORT UN3327) | Ana Paulina Lee

This course is a comparative study of the cultures and ethnicities of Latin America, with a focus on Asian immigration, settlement, and visual culture.   We will question how visual culture, artistic practice, and performance have interrupted static understandings of ethnicity, race, gender, and sexuality. We will read theories about visual culture, performance, affect, memory, and migration and examine artistic production from Latin America. We will also analyze the symbolic value and socio-economic positions of ethnic neighborhoods like Chinatown in Cuba or Japantown in Brazil. This course includes a digital media workshop component, using mapping and other kinds of digital software, students will create digital media projects based on research developed during the course of the semester.

The populism that arguably defined twentieth century politics in Argentina challenged liberal and left wing thinkers to reconsider the cultural imaginaries, habits, and organizational structures moving the masses. Irreducible to either doctrine or illusion, ideology would become the center of politics. The issue of what it is and how it works would likewise assume a pivotal place in both literature and social thought. This course will examine Argentinean narrative, film, political rhetoric, and social theory from the 1930s through the 1970s in order to explore the tension and intersection between two different approaches to the question of ideology. The first, which derives from moral and political philosophy, presumes that individuals are inherently free and asks why, given this condition, we would submit to the unjust authority of others. The second, which derives from the Marxist tradition, argues that ideas emerge from an exploitative social division of labor and yet blind the exploited (and exploiters) to these same material conditions. Combining these two approaches, the texts surveyed ponder the fact that while the genesis of our ideas and customs may be social and objective, they are only actualized and made relevant in the highly subjective realm of politics. We will study notions such as class and class-consciousness, the revolutionary party, the leader, populism, and madness in the work of Antonio Gramsci, Roberto Arlt, Jorge Luis Borges, Juan Domingo Perón, Ernesto Laclau, and Rodolfo Walsh, among others. Readings and discussions will be in Spanish. Hispanic Cultures II or special permission from the professor required.

Founded to combat Christian heresy in the late fifteenth century but based on previous medieval models, the Spanish Inquisition is notorious as an institution of religious persecution. Converts from Judaism and Islam to Christianity, not to mention a host of other minority Christian communities, often fell under inquisitorial suspicion. The interrogation and censorship tactics employed by inquisitors and their agents to police these communities sometimes but not always entailed violence. Punishments for those convicted of infractions similarly ranged widely, from the notorious auto-de-fé to more minor acts of contrition. In this course, we will study these inquisitorial procedures and their underlying theological presuppositions. We also will examine how the “Holy Office,” as the inquisition was likewise known, fit into the broader religious and political cultures of the Iberian world during the sixteenth century. Over the course of the semester we will aim to test “black” and “white” legends of Spanish inquisitorial and imperial violence not only against a range of primary sources and archival documents from the sixteenth century, but also against our own presuppositions about tolerance and intolerance, religious freedom, and the relationship between religion and secularism in the present. Readings include inquisitorial case archives, polemical and pedagogical works by Nicolas Eimeric, Hernando de Talavera, Tomás de Torquemada, and other early inquisitors and their critics, and articles and book chapters by modern scholars such as Christine Caldwell Ames, Wendy Brown, Michel Foucault, Carlo Ginzburg, Henry Kamen, Doris Moreno, and others.

Peruvian social thinker José Carlos Mariátegui called for the invention of a Latin American Marxism that would serve as “neither blueprint nor copy” (ni calco ni copia) of its European forbearers. Rather than studying the reception of Marxist theory in Latin America, this course will examine the ways in which leftist thinkers and artists produced new theories and forms in an attempt to respond to the historic specificity of the social processes and political movements around them. Beginning with the evolution of Marx’s own thought on the potential for socialist revolution in Latin America, we will read and analyze social theory, narrative, film and ethnography in order to grasp the disjunctive and overlapping historical temporalities and social forms that characterize the articulation of capitalism in Latin America, as well as the unique political movements and theories that responded to it. In so doing, we will address questions such as the role of Spanish colonialism in the birth of the global capitalism; the co-existence and transformation of pre-capitalist and capitalist societies; the question of the nation as ideology and as political tool; the relationship between economic underdevelopment and political insurrection; and the dynamics of exploitation and political organization contemporarily. Authors to be studied include Marx, Martí, Mariátegui, Zavaleta Mercado, García Linera, and Svampa, among others.

  • Blood/Lust: Staging the Early Modern Mediterranean (CPLS UN3454) | Patricia Grieve

This course examines, in sixteenth and seventeenth century Spain and England (1580-1640), how the two countries staged the conflict between them, and with the Ottoman Empire; that is, how both countries represent national and imperial clashes, and the concepts of being “Spanish,” “English,” or “Turk,” as well as the dynamic and fluid identities of North Africa, often played out on the high seas of the Mediterranean with Islam and the Ottoman Empire. We will consider how the Ottoman Empire depicted itself artistically through miniatures and court poetry. The course will include travel and captivity narratives from Spain, England, and the Ottoman Empire.

  •  Environment and Citizenship: Cultures of Nature in the Iberian Peninsula (SPAN UN3731) | Ana Fernández Cebrián

This course examines the role of nature and the environment in both contemporary literature and the arts, and attempts to explore a conceptual framework for the definition of the environment as cultural and material production. Environmental peculiarities and historical discontinuities and continuities have created social and political conjunctures in the Iberian Peninsula, in which questions concerning nature, space, landscape, and urban and rural experiences have become central to the cultural and critical imagination in the 20th & 21st Centuries. From the debate over the privatization and erosion of communal rights and the environmental dispossession (and repossession) of the resources to the history of the constructions of nature(s) in literary and cinematic landscapes, the guiding question is how cultural and social practices interfere in the production of what Rob Nixon has called ‘slow violence,’ that is, the incremental dynamics of environmental violence that intensify the vulnerability of populations and natural ecosystems. To address this issue, we will not only read a number of novels, essays, poems, short stories, and theoretical production, but also engage in the study of artwork and new Iberian democratic experiences, and the development of the cultural environmental studies and ecocriticism in literature and the arts today. The class will be conducted in Spanish and all written assignments will also be in that language.

This course has two general pedagogical objectives: to provide tools for discourse analysis and to teach how to construct individual discursive practice. This twofold configuration means that the students will learn, consciously and deeply, how language in action works and how to use language as an instrument.

The language of poetry is the language of life. Like other types of literature and art, poetry is equipment for living. In this class we will read and discuss different ways in which some of the best and best-known modern Spanish American poets have engaged life, and more concretely their (and our) lives, through their poems. Writers to be discussed may include Delmira Agustini, Alfonsina Storni, Gabriela Mistral, César Vallejo, Pablo Neruda, Dulce María Loynaz, Heberto Padilla, Alejandra Pizarnik, Nicanor Parra, and José Kozer. Lema del curso: “La poesía es como el pan; debe ser compartida por todos” (Pablo Neruda).

Last Updated 2 years ago


LAIC, « Advanced Undergraduate Courses | FALL 2017 », Blogs, Columbia University | LAIC, Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures (online), published on April 16, 2017. Full URL for this article

Join the conversation