Spanish Curriculum

Whether taken as a single or as a joint area of concentration (AOC), or simply to augment study in another discipline, the Spanish program at New College offers courses at all levels of Spanish language, as well as courses and tutorials on the literature and culture of Latin America and Spain. Literature courses are offered both in Spanish and in English translation.  

Within the program itself, two tracks are available. The track in Spanish Language and Literature is designed for students who are interested in strong work in literary studies, while the track in Spanish Language and Culture is for students who are interested in pursuing cross-disciplinary approaches. Regardless of your choice, supporting course work in other relevant disciplines in the humanities and social sciences is expected.  Both tracks share the core course offerings from our language sequence and advanced Spanish courses. The main difference is in the design of tutorials and independent reading projects, in the planning for study-abroad, and in the focus of your senior thesis project.

When choosing Spanish as a single AOC, your coursework will comprise the following: ten academic activities (courses, tutorials, independent reading projects); one Independent Study Project approved by faculty within the program; and a thesis with a focus on relevant aspects of the literature or culture of the Hispanic world. No less than eight of the academic activities must be taken in Spanish. One semester of study abroad approved by the Spanish faculty is normally expected as well.  

When choosing Spanish as a joint AOC (e.g., Spanish/Anthropology or Spanish/Economics), you will be required to complete eight academic activities approved by the faculty of the Spanish program, with no less than five of these to be completed in Spanish.  In the case of the joint AOC, the focus of the thesis is open, but it is expected that a significant portion of your research will be conducted in Spanish. 

To find out more about the Spanish AOC and course listings, check out our general catalog. You can also click here to read the Spanish Academic Learning Compact.

Upon arrival at New College, students interested in Spanish undergo a placement process, which includes a placement exam, in order to determine their language level and to ensure enrollment in the appropriate courses. Spanish language is taught in a five-semester sequence after which students can enroll in courses and tutorials on literary and cultural topics conducted in Spanish (see Language Sequence below). Each fall and spring one advanced course is offered, which is conducted entirely in Spanish.  Offerings change each year and include the study of particular authors, a genre, a period, or a theme (see Advanced Spanish Courses below).  Also, every semester we offer a course of Latin American literature or culture in translation. These courses may allow advanced students to do part of the work in Spanish (see Courses in Translation below). In addition to regular course offerings, tutorials, independent reading projects, and independent study projects are frequently designed to meet the particular needs of students within the program.  

The Language Sequence
Elementary Spanish I
This first-semester course is designed for students with little or no background in Spanish. The main goals of this course are to acquire good knowledge of basic Spanish grammar (simple sentence structure, simple tenses in the indicative), to build vocabulary, and to develop oral/aural skills.

Elementary Spanish II
This course is a continuation of Elementary Spanish I. The main goals of this course are to acquire good knowledge of basic Spanish grammar (simple sentence structure, simple tenses in the indicative, introduction to the subjunctive), to build vocabulary, and to develop oral/aural skills.

Intermediate Spanish
This third-semester course is designed to clarify grammatical concepts, increase vocabulary and improve oral expression and reading skills. Oral/Aural work will be stressed more heavily than written work. The texts will provide grammar exercises as well as basic readings intended to increase vocabulary and stimulate conversation. Prerequisite: The completion of Elementary Spanish II at New College, or its equivalent.

Spanish Conversation and Composition
This fourth-semester course has been designed to improve accuracy of oral and written expression, and to further develop reading and aural comprehension skills. We will do a systematic review of Spanish grammar. We will use readings on a variety of topics as a basis for oral and written work. Students are expected to participate actively in general class discussion, and will be responsible for class presentations and special activities. The course has a demanding writing component; students are expected to prepare all written assignments carefully and present them on time. Re-writing essays and peer-editing are important components of this class and therefore students should be willing to work in groups outside class meeting times. Prerequisite: Satisfactory completion of Intermediate Spanish at New College, or its equivalent.

Lecturas Hispánicas
This fifth-semester course is intended to be a transition from language courses to the study of literature and culture in Spanish. Although we will review key grammatical aspects, the focus of the course will be on reading, writing, and class discussion of texts and topics that are relevant to Hispanic literature, culture, and society. Students will regularly write short essays (to be revised / peer reviewed and re-written for content and grammatical accuracy), students will make individual and group presentations and work on a final group project. Students must be willing to meet in groups outside class times. Active class participation is a requirement of this class. Prerequisite: The course is designed for students who have completed at least Spanish Composition and Conversation at New College, or its equivalent.
Sample of Advanced Spanish Courses
Spanish Americanisms
This course studies the literature produced after the independence of Spanish American countries. It focuses on how the political, social, and cultural development of the foundation of the new countries was expressed in the two literary movements, romanticism and modernismo; and at the same time, how the literature produced played an important role in the imagining the new societies. While literary movements and political formulas had been imported from Europe to the Spanish Americas, once the nations were established modernismo became the first cultural exportation to Europe. Some of the concepts we will discuss are: nation, foundational literature, writer-statement.

Gendered Spanish American Literary Canon
This course will discuss the impact gender has had in the production of the Spanish American literary canon from the beginning of the twentieth century on. Some of the questions that this class will address are: does gender affect the writing and reading processes? How do social class and race interact with the notion of gender in the discussion of the literary experience? The course will be organized by key moments in the Spanish American letters by reading vis-a-vis a literary piece by a male author and contrasting it with a woman writer from  the same period, and moving, then to a more contemporary take by another female writer. Readings will include short stories, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to reading material the course will include films. Therefore, students should have availability to watch these films as a group outside the course schedule. Classes will be conducted in Spanish. Active discussion and participation is expected. Students will write weekly short essays, do oral presentations, and they will work on a final project.

Caribbean Prose Literature
This course will focus in the twentieth-century literary production of short stories, poetry, a novel and essays in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Cuba. Readings and discussions will be centered on what makes this area a distinctive one from Continental Spanish America as well as what has been each country's contribution to the literary field. Three historical events will organize the material studied in class: the urban transformation of Puerto Rico, Trujillo's dictatorship in Dominican Republic (including the invasion of the Marines and the relationship with Haiti), and the Cuban revolution. Each of these events not only marks the literary production of these islands but also helps to explain the relationship between them. At the end of the class students should have a better understanding of the complex issues involving the Islands of the Spanish Caribbean, as well as the role of intellectuals and literature play in their cultural and social-political life. Structured in a seminar format, all class discussion in this course will be organized around detailed readings and written comments. Students will write weekly 2-pages essays. In addition, students will create a web page; each student will write a bio-bibliography of an author studied in class. Students are expected to actively participate in class discussion, and provide feedback to their colleagues.

Spanish as the Fabric of Verse
This course offers advanced students of Spanish an opportunity to focus on the study of language through literature. The course is organized as an introduction to modern poetry in Spanish. We will read from a vast a selection of poets and poems from Spanish America and Spain. There will be a strong emphasis on descriptive and analytical work. We will develop a variety of interpretive approaches to poetry, including recitation and translation. Students are expected to actively participate in class discussions. All students will be responsible for class presentations of poems, and recitation exercises [in-class and recorded]. Written assignments of a varied nature and extension will be required throughout the semester. The final project will consist of a descriptive-analytical essay on a chosen poem [or a group of poems] and a translation exercise—either the annotation of an existing translation of that poem into English, or the creation of a new translation. Class discussions and assignments will be all in Spanish.

Latin American Essays
In this course we will study Latin American essays written in the 19th and 20th centuries. Our interests will be focused on works devoted to the elaboration of key topics in the narratives of identity (questions of nation, ethnicity and gender). We will try to understand the particularities of the genre as it has been practiced in particular cultural environments, and look into its possibilities as a form of intellectual inquiry. We will pay close attention to the play of language, and develop appropriate strategies to understand, describe, and explain idiosyncratic uses. Throughout the semester the course will demand intense reading, active in-class participation, in-class presentations (individual and group), and written assignments in a variety of formats (including interpretive and free essays, and the translation and annotation of assigned texts). Written assignments, class discussions, and all main readings will be in Spanish. Secondary readings in English may be assigned as support material for class discussion or be part of the research for the final project. The final project will be the “edition” of a selected essay: a short study of the text (an essay on the essay) and annotations clarifying questions of language and context.

Storytellers/Los que cuentan historias
We will focus on stories by a number of 20th-Century Latin American authors: Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar and Luisa Valenzuela (Argentina); María Luisa Bombal and Roberto Bolaño (Chile); José María Arguedas and Alfredo Bryce Echenique (Peru); Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia), Alejo Carpentier (Cuba), and Rosario Ferré (Puerto Rico); Miguel Ángel Asturias and Augusto Monterroso (Guatemala); Juan Rulfo, Rosario Castellanos, and Carlos Fuentes (Mexico).  Our interest will be both, the study of the “language” (Spanish as ‘authorial’ language, Spanish as the fabric of prose, Spanish as narrative language) and the understanding of the “world” as presented in those texts. We will pay special attention to the role of myth, ritual, and storytelling. Primary readings, and all writing and discussions will be in Spanish. Very active participation in class (including short, individual, in-class presentations) and satisfactory completion of all written assignments will be the base for evaluation.  Short written assignments in a variety of formats (summary, description, commentary, interpretation) will be required throughout the semester. We will produce translations of selected passages and selected stories from Spanish to English.  The final project will be the “edition” of a short story: a study of the text, and annotations clarifying questions of language and context.

Sample of Courses in Translation
Blacks and National Discourse in Spanish America (In English)
This seminar will study the problems and consequences of the representation of blacks in Spanish America, and how it affected the articulation of national discourses. On the one hand it will study the objectification of the black as a slave, later on as a problem to be solved, and as scientific object of study. On the other hand, it will study the different ways of constructing a subjectivity and its consequences in the production of a black aesthetic. The seminar will work with representations of blacks in literature, film, photography, and newspapers. It will be organized around the following topics: slavery as an obstruction of the national project; slaves and the self-articulation; the representation of the mulatto/a; the black as an object of study in the anthropological photography; the female black body in literature; and the incorporation of blacks in revolutionary Cuba. Students will write 4 essays (4-5 pages long), will make one or two oral presentations (depending on the class size), and a group final project. Because of the work required for this course enrollment may be limited.

An Introduction to Colonial Texts: Spanish America (In English)
We will focus on two main authors of the 16th and 17th centuries. We will work with selections from The Florida and The Royal Commentaries (La Florida and Comentarios Reales de los Incas by Garcilaso Inca de la Vega; and with the Answer to Sor Filotea de la Cruz and selections of poetry by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. We aim to develop a basic understanding of the complexity and variety of colonial literature through the contextual reading of our (limited) selection. Strong in-class work is expected. Readings on selected criticism will be required. Evaluation will be based on class participation and the completion of two take-home exams.

Narrative and Social Dramas (in English)
This course will focus on Latin American novels and short-stories from the 1940’s to the 1960’s. We will study them as explorations through fiction of moments of crisis in society. We will read novels such as Men of Maize (Hombres de Maíz) by Miguel Ángel Asturias (Guatemala), Deep Rivers (Los ríos profundos) by José María Arguedas (Perú), The Book of Lamentations (Oficio de tinieblas) by Rosario Castellanos (México), Son of Man (Hijo de hombre) by Augusto Roa Bastos (Paraguay), among other texts. We will study different strategies through which fiction makes possible insights in and gives form to our knowledge and experience of the nature of social dramas. We will explore the worlds these narratives construct and trace in them the impact of and the responses to the process of modernization, to the long struggles for land, to the ambivalent dynamics of continuous intercultural conflict, to the threat of devastation through social violence. In addition to the primary texts, a selection of critical works and works on Latin American society and history will be required reading, and will be available as reserved items at the college library. The course will demand intense reading and strong engagement in class discussion. Two substantial critical essays (mid-term and final) will be required. Number of students may be limited. Preference will be given to students with previous work done in literary and/or Latin American studies.

The Need for Fictions: The Narratives of Gabriel García Márquez and Juan Rulfo (In English)
We will devote this course to the study of two masterpieces of Latin American fiction: Pedro Parámo by Juan Rulfo (Mexico) and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia). We will trace the creation of the fictional worlds of “Comala” and “Macondo” in the early works of these authors (Rulfo's The Burning Plain and García Márquez' Leaf Storm and The Funerals of Mama Grande). We will explore the terms in which the act of fictionalizing mediates between facts and imagination: making sense of the outbreaks of social violence in Mexico and Colombia; and giving a recognizable form to the collective responses to them. Readings and discussion sessions in English. Active class participation is expected. Course participants will be responsible for class presentations on selected topics and two medium-length analytical papers.

The Representation of the Indian and the Indian World (In English)
The Indian and the Indian world have been a central problem in the configuration of the artistic and intellectual discourse in and about Latin America. In this course we will examine this process through one key aspect: the role of the representation of the Indian and their world in the production of major narratives. We will work with novels by non-Indian writers from Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil, written between the 1880s and the 1980s. This course will demand very intense reading: in addition to the novels (9 to 10) the class will require a significant amount of work with secondary sources (literary criticism, history, and social sciences). Strong in-class participation is expected, and will be an essential factor in the final evaluation. Weekly position papers (1.5-2 pages) before class meetings, and two essays (mid-term and final, 8-10 pages each).

Representations of Power in Modern Latin American Novels (In English)
In this course we will work with six Latin American novels published between 1946 and 2000. The course will be organized in three segments. In the first one, we will study novels that focus on processes and figures of Latin America’s late 18th and early 19th centuries: The Kingdom of this World by Alejo Carpentier (on the Haitian slaves’ revolts and revolution), and The General in His Labyrinth by Gabriel García Márquez (on Simón Bolívar’s last journey). In the second segment we will read novels that focus on early 20th-Century dictators and dictatorships: The President by Miguel Ángel Asturias (on Guatemala under Estrada Cabrera), and The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa (on the Dominican Republic under Trujillo). The third segment focuses on two novels that deal with the Chilean experience during the period of the military regime (1973-1990): Custody of the Eyes by Diamela Eltit and By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolaño. This course requires intense reading of both primary and secondary sources, as well as strong engagement in class discussions. Close attention to the novels will be privileged in this course; nevertheless significant research needs to be in place to grant a productive engagement with the texts. A selection of essays on literary/cultural criticism and on Latin American society and history will be required readings, and will be available as reserved items (electronic reserve) from Cook Library. Oral examinations (individual or small groups) may be selectively required. Two substantial critical essays (midterm and final) will be required from all participants. The essays must demonstrate: very good-to-excellent control of the primary sources (the novels), good knowledge and use of secondary sources (both in literature and the social sciences), clear critical vocabulary, and a well-defined compositional approach. Students with background in either Literature or Latin American Studies will be able to take full advantage of this class. Students with a passion for literature (novels in particular) and Latin America, regardless of academic background, will benefit from the experience.

[Did you know?]

Many New College graduates apply and are accepted into English language teaching programs run by the ministries of Spain, France and Japan. In fact, 25 graduating seniors since 2000 have taught and traveled abroad under these prestigious government grants.

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