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Advanced Undergraduate Courses | spring 2017


Advanced undergraduate courses to be offered during the spring 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.

SPAN UN3300 – Individual Section Titles:

  • Urbanizing the Southern Cone | Anayvelysse Allen-Mossman
  • Political Bodies in Latin America | Omar Durán-García
  • Media and Transgression in Latin America | Analía Lavin
  • Spain in War | David Mejía
  • New World Stories | Alexandra V. Méndez
  • Nueva York: A Journey in Spanish | Guadalupe Ruiz-Fajardo
  • 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 cultural production of Spain and Latin America from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries. Students will acquire the knowledge needed for the study of 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.

REQUIREMENTS for the minor in portuguese:

  • Brasil: Favela e Carnaval (PORT UN3300) | José Antonio Castellanos-Pazos

This course is intended 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 will serve as the organizing principle to review 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, particularly those attaining narration and description. This course is required for the concentration in Portuguese Studies.

  • Introduction to Portuguese Studies (PORT UN3330) | Deneb Kozikoski Valereto

This course is intended to advanced Portuguese students with written and oral fluency. The course is constituted of a series of critical perspectives to think Brazilian and Lusophone cultures and societies throughout History. By reading historical, critical, and literary texts (besides visual materials such as photographs and film) consisting of basic materials for the understanding of Brazilian and Lusphone studies, we will have an interdisciplinary dialogue to think cultural practices up to the present. Besides the literary and cultural student’s enrichment, the objective of this course is to try to answer the following questions: what is the place of the Portuguese language and Lusophone culture today? Is it possible to study Lusophone and Brazilian cultures and literatures without repeating paradigms? The challenge of the course, from introduction to conclusion, is to try to answer these questions through criticism of those materials read and debated in class. Students will actively participate in the historical contextualization of themes presented, but this context will not necessarily resolve the issues appearing in the original sources.

  • Lusophone Africa and African Brazilian Cultures (PORT UN3350) | João Nemi Neto

This course focuses on Lusophone African and African Brazilian cultures and the relations, continuities, ruptures and influences between them. Brazil is the result of the miscegenation of Ameridians, African and Europeans, and this means that is also a cultural mélange of these groups. The African cultural contribution to Brazilian culture and grand-narrative is the primary focus of this course, however, to understand Brazil one needs to understand the cultural diversity found in Lusophone Africa, with which Brazil has had a long relationship. The readings for this course include texts from different disciplines and genres. We will study texts, movies and other forms of visual arts from the following authors: José Eduardo Agualusa, Pepetela, Mia Couto, Jorge Amado, Achille, Mbembe, Hilton Costa, Jocélio Teles dos Santos, Livio Sansone, José Luis Cabaço, Benedita da Silva and Solano Trindade.


  • Circulation of Objects: Material Culture (SPAN UN3346) | Graciela Montaldo

The course focuses on material culture in contemporary Latin America throughout literature, essays, visual texts, films, and new cultural experiences. Materiality is the media but is also part of the symbolic choice of artists and cultural agents. The course discusses the problem of peripheral countries in the globalized economy and how culture offers a place of reflection and interchange of new experiences. Within the frame of the new material cultural studies, we will study works and practices where documentality, archival practices, and objectuality are political issues with plenty of potential meanings. Students will be introduced to theoretical writing on material culture in different contexts (Argentina, Brazil, México, Perú). This course will provide students with an accurate understanding of some of the topics of contemporary Latin American culture relative to the market, aesthetics, and politics, including such topics as elite culture vs. popular culture, practices of resistance, the representation of violence, cities as spectacles, as well as new phenomena, such as landfill and poverty art. The class will be conducted in Spanish and all written assignments will be in that language.

  • Latin American Radical Thought (SPAN UN3354) Bruno Bosteels

From Simón Bolívar to Emiliano Zapata, Latin America certainly has seen its share of radicals. Worshipped by some and reviled by others, these figures individually or collectively revamped what politics, art, or literature could be about. Their work, however, has also led to innovative theoretical and philosophical reflections, from liberation theology to Marxist and post-Marxist thought. We will study essays, letters, diaries, manifestos, poems, short stories, and novellas written by or about some of these Latin American radicals as well as collective actors such as Zapatistas in Mexico or the Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina.

  •  Cuba and the USA (SPAN UN3356) Gustavo Pérez-Firmat

For nearly two centuries, Cuba and the United States have been linked by what William McKinley in 1899 termed “ties of singular intimacy,” a long-lived but contentious relationship that has produced misunderstandings, disappointments, embargos, embarques and, every once in a while, a military invasion. Through the analysis of representative texts of various kinds—verbal (journalism, literature), visual (movies, TV programs), musical (popular songs)—we will study the imprint of Cuba on American culture, as well that of America on Cuban culture, in order to the determine the modes of intimacy that bind (and separate) the two countries and cultures. Conducted in Spanish.

  • Artistic Humanity (SPAN UN3361) Alessandra Russo

Between the 15th and 17th centuries, in the context of the Iberian expansion, the presence and observation of unexpected artistic forms, media, and monuments triggered a new space of inquiry. Novel objects, surfaces, architectures, materials, and ideas about artistry were observed far and near—in the Americas, in Asia, in Africa, and in Europe. They traveled between continents in physical and textual forms: sent and offered as proofs of the new territories, desired and collected as unique treasures, but also described, compared and analyzed in letters, histories, or inventories. All around a sphere that could now be mentally embraced, missionaries, collectors, travelers, historians, and artists felt under the power of novel creations: body painting, gold byobu, intricate sculptures, but also turquoise masks, feather mosaics, painted manuscripts, fish-bone necklaces, ivory spoons, carved temples, monumental cities, and so on. These splendid artworks deeply challenged conceptual boundaries such as those between idol and image, beautiful and frightening, civilized and barbarian, center and periphery, classic and modern, and ancient and new. But most importantly, these artworks and their descriptions in chronicles, histories, and inventories contributed to define humanity as immanently creative—and to conceive artistic creation as a distinctive form of thought.

  • Theaters of the World: Spectacular Vision and Early Modern Iberian Expansion (SPAN UN3446) Nicole T. Hughes

This seminar focuses on the wide-ranging intellectual and artistic forms known as “theater” in the context of the Portuguese and Spanish expansion projects in the Americas during the 16th and 17th centuries. With roots in the Greek “theáomai,” “to look at or to behold,” and “théatron,” “a place for seeing,” theater could refer to any structure that facilitated the viewing of images. The buildings where audiences watched dances, songs, and other spectacles were called theaters, approximating the term’s most common meaning today. But encyclopedias were also known as “theaters of knowledge”; nature was described as “the theater of the world”; and mnemonic devices were called “theaters of memory.” The use of the term “theater” in the titles of manuscripts and printed books announced the ambition to be comprehensive. This seminar introduces students to dramatic spectacles in the New World alongside these other “theaters.” The main hypothesis is that New World theater can be better understood by analyzing how other early modern theaters organized bodies of knowledge and orchestrated visual experiences—histories, maps, grammars, emblem books, triumphal arches, etc.

  • Short Fiction in Spanish America (SPAN UN3450) | Gustavo Pérez-Firmat

The theory and practice of short fiction by the leading exponents of the genre in twentieth- and twenty-first-century Spanish America. Authors to be discussed may include: Roberto Bolaño, Jorge Luis Borges, Rosario Castellanos, Julio Cortázar, José Donoso, Rosario Ferré, Gabriel García Márquez, Andrea Maturana, Augusto Monterroso, Horacio Quiroga, Juan Rulfo, Ana María Shua, and Juan Villoro. Conducted in Spanish.

  • Public Intellectuals (SPAN UN3488) Jesús R. Velasco

Were there public intellectuals before the advent of modernity? What was it like to be a public intellectual before the existence of the public sphere as we know it today? What kind of impact did they expect form their interlocution with power? In this course we will explore these and other question by reading works from Christine de Pizan, a 14th-15th-century political scientist; Teresa de Cartagena, a 15th-century nun interested in the intellectual value of women in a man’s world; Averroes, a Muslim 12th-century intellectual who went into exile because of his ideas before the dynastic changes taking place in al-Andalus; Maimonides, a 12th-century Jewish lawyer and thinker who challenged how global legal scholars studied the Jewish law; Juan Hispano, a 16th-century professor and poet of African descent (son of black slaves) who wrote poems about the wars in the Mediterranean; Diego de Valera, a 15th-century plebeian intellectual who spoke truth to power to stop the civil war; Mancebo de Arévalo, a 16th-century morisco who engaged in an ethnographic trip across the Iberian Peninsula to rebuild moorish culture after the processes of geographical displacement undertaken by the Spanish monarchy; Olivia Sabuco de Nantes Barrera, a 16th-century woman who engaged in philosophical research; among others. We will also read critical and theoretical work by Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Gayatri Spivak, and others. In this course, we intend to create an #inclusivesyllabus. This course will be cross-listed with the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.

  • Cold War Imaginaries: Geopolitics, Capitalism, and Dictatorship in Spain (SPAN UN3497)Ana Fernández Cebrián

The course focuses on the cultural logics of the Cold War imaginaries in the Franco Dictatorship in Spain throughout literature, films, essays, visual texts, and social practices. Global accounts of the Cold War are dislocated in the cultural productions in a “peripheral Fordist“ country controlled by a fascist government. The course discusses the transition from the postwar autarchy to the so-called “Spanish economic miracle” and how culture offers a place of reflection for these transformations in a split global economy. Within a cultural studies frame, we will study works and practices where topics such as the connection between technology, sovereignty, and surveillance, the birth of a consumer society, and gender and class struggles are aesthetic and political issues defying the control of the State and the accounts of progress and modernity associated with the economic policies of the developmentalism. Students will be introduced to theoretical writing on Cold War Studies from which they can gain an accurate understanding of the specificities of the Spanish cultural production between 1950 and 1975. This class will be conducted in Spanish and all written assignments will also be in that language.

  • SENIOR SEMINAR | Aesthetics of Revolt: Masses and Political Performance in the Hispanic World (SPAN UN3991) | Alberto Medina

This course traces the birth and development of the Mass as a new and distinctive political actor in the context of Hispanic modernities. From the Esquilache revolts in Spain or the Atahualpa or Tupac Amaru rebellions in Latin America to the Argentine Cacerolazo in 2001 or the 15M movement in Spain in 2011, the role of the masses will be considered as a spatial and performative intervention in the public sphere. Public spaces become stages where protests take the form of experimental and alternative models of social interaction. Political goals are pursued through the transformation of quotidian behaviors and spaces; cities become canvases on which tentative maps are drawn, functioning as potential scripts for new social and political structures. Literary and visual primary sources (e.g., Echeverría, Lamborghini, Poniatowska, Galdós, Goya, Genovés) along with journalistic accounts and testimonies, will be put in dialogue with theoretical texts (e.g, Le Bon, Canetti, Virno, Laclau, Hardt/Negri)

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LAIC, « Advanced Undergraduate Courses | spring 2017 », Blogs, Columbia University | LAIC, Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures (online), published on October 20, 2016. Full URL for this article

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