Research / Blogs

Ph.D. Seminars | FALL 2018


Ph.D. seminars to be offered in the fall semester of 2018. Should you have any questions, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Graciela Montaldo.


  • Research & Professional Development Workshop II (SPAN GR6100) | Mondays, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. | All LAIC first-year Ph.D. students must register
  • Colloquium in Latin American & Iberian Cultures I (SPAN GR9046) | Thursdays, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. | All LAIC first-year Ph.D. students must register
  • Didactics of Spanish Language and Culture II (SPAN GR6000) | Reyes Llopis-García  | Fridays, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. | All LAIC second-year Ph.D. students must register

Teaching in a foreign language, regardless of the content of the course, requires not only specific understanding of the target language itself, but also a solid knowledge of Pedagogy, which ranges from operative skill in classroom management and dynamics, to the comprehension of how affective and cognitive factors impact both the learning process and the processing of the language. Pedagogical success is measured in the balanced theoretical knowledge of what triggers learning and the processing of new information with the techniques and methodologies that foster and activate that process. This seminar will explore that balance by providing hands-on workshops by both the instructor and other invited speakers that combine pedagogical reflections on theories of learning and language acquisition with methodological approaches to teaching and didactic planning.


  • El estado y la insurrección (SPAN GR6012) | Bruno Bosteels Mondays, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Recent social, cultural, and political developments since the beginning of the millennium have made it clear that the role of the state in guaranteeing basic services, assuring security, or policing the population, has come under acute scrutiny. The last decade has been marked by a global tide of uprisings, riots, occupations, street protests, and other forms of insurrection that no longer seek to take control of the state but attempt to change the world without taking power. We will study this new insurrectionary moment in a variety of contexts, from Europe and the USA to the sometimes parallel and sometimes antagonistic tendencies in the “pink tide” of leftist, centrist, or populist governments in Latin America. Our main focus will be on Mexico. Not limiting ourselves to the present, we will also delve into a genealogy of insurrectional and communal forms of doing politics in Latin America, from the time of conquest to the moment of independence and beyond.

  • State Avant-gardes (SPAN GR6055) | Alberto Medina Tuesdays, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

What has been the relationship between Avant-Garde Aesthetics and the State in Contemporary Spain? Already in 1860, Baudelaire’s resistance to the concept of Avant-Garde came from his perception of the movement as essentially paradoxical, inconformist and disciplined—prone to propaganda purposes—at once. It is that same dialectic between inconformity and (very often unintended) complicity or even support, this time for the state, what structures this course. From the direct link between Avant-Garde Aesthetics and the birth of Spanish Fascism to the institutional use of Avant-Garde cinema, art or architecture both under Francoism and democracy, this course traces the modes of institutional promotion and incorporation of Avant- Garde aesthetics, the ways in which cultural policies frame and mediate works quite often conceived from a perspective of radical critique and innovation. If the goal of the Avant-Garde, according to Bürger’s influential reading, was the integration of art and life; strategies of governmentality inhabit that utopian drive. The questioning of the ambiguous limits, the unavoidable overlapping between what Benjamin identified as the alienating aestheticization of Politics and the liberating politization of Aesthetics will be at the chore of this course.

Using a theoretical frame that combines classical accounts of the relationship between Avant-Garde works and their authors with power (Adorno, Gramsci, Ranciére, Bürger, Hewitt…) and the mechanisms of cultural policy (Miller, Yúdice, Throsby, Marzo…), this course focuses on “Avant-Garde” movements such as Surrealism, literary “Tremendismo”, Abstract informalism, New Spanish Cinema, “Nueva Figuración” or Avant-Garde Architecture at the turn of the Century.

  • East/West Frametale Narratives (CPLS GR6333) | Patricia Grieve Wednesdays, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Frametale narratives, the art of inserting stories within stories, in oral and written forms, originated in East and South Asia centuries ago; tales familiar to Europe, often called novellas, can trace their development from oral tales to transmitted Sanskrit and Pahlavi tales, as well as Arabic and Hebrew stories. Both Muslim Spain and Christian Spain served as the nexus between the East and Europe in the journey of translation and the creation of new works.

Through readings and films, and employing the theoretical concepts of Homi Bhabha (liminality, hybridity, third space) and Etienne Balibar (frontiers and the nation), as well as selected readings of Fernand Braudel and others on the Mediterranean world, the course examines the structure, meaning, and function of ancient, medieval, and early modern frametale narratives, using as theoretical frame in three ways: 1) Theory and practice of frames. Frames are not neutral; they can be narrative seductions, guiding and even strongly manipulating how we read the stories that follow; they can be used to reflect the intersections of orality and literacy. In order to understand their enduring power, we also explore the idea of literary frames through some contemporary films. 2) The exploration in their cultural contexts of topics such as the literary figures of the anti-hero and the trickster, precursors to the picaresque, women in the courtroom, the conflict of chance and human agency, monstrous births as political prophecy, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish relations in medieval and early modern Mediterranean cultures, the sexual frankness of the novella form, and gender politics. 3) How are narratives formed? The course traces the development of the short tale/novella from its ancient Asian origins through the seventeenth century, when Cervantes’ literary experiments gave new life to the novella form, and the Spanish writer María de Zayas challenged Cervantes’ views on love and marriage in her own highly regarded collections of novellas; we move to the present with the study of three contemporary films. But before they became complex and entertaining narratives, many of the well known tales had their “bare bones” origins in joke books, laws and legal theories, conduct manuals, collections of aphorisms and other wise and pithy sayings, misogynist non-fiction writings, and Biblical stories.

Although the works are available in English translations, lectures will refer to meanings in both English and the original languages; students who can read the works in the original languages are encouraged to do so.

  • This Medieval Iberian Thing (SPAN GR6009) | Jesús R. Velasco Wednesdays, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

What are the contributions and challenges of Medieval Studies to the field of Iberian Studies—and to contemporary critical thought?

This challenge has frequently been invoked as convivencia, a concept that roughly, albeit inadequately, translates as coexistence. The term was deployed occasionally in the early twentieth century and it arose, more or less as we know it, in Ramón Menéndez Pidal’s Orígenes del español (1926). There, the notion of convivencia was cast as a linguistic line of inquiry: how did different languages coexist in the same territory, and how did they interact productively?

This Iberian Medieval Thing is a theoretical and historical meditation on contemporary forms of convivencia that transcends the coexistence of languages, religions, and cultures to address gender, race, and what David Nirenberg called communities of violence. The seminar will also foster a conversation from the perspective that the Iberian thing is not something exceptional, and that it is critical to expand the context of the Iberian peninsula and its cultural production. While dealing with translations, transactions, boundaries, networks, etc., we will immediately see the importance of understanding the Ibernianness of cultures around and beyond the Iberian Peninsula.

Throughout the semester, we will discuss vernacular cultures and the concept of vernacularism, the challenges of competing languages, the politics of translation, Iberian Studies, Cultural Studies, the role of literature as well as transactions and boundaries.

Last Updated 1 year ago


LAIC, « Ph.D. Seminars | FALL 2018 », Blogs, Columbia University | LAIC, Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures (online), published on April 6, 2018. Full URL for this article

Join the conversation