Introduction

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Latinx and Latin American Studies

Professors del Moral, R. López (Chair), Schmalzbauer*, and Schroeder Rodríguez; Associate Professor Lohse; Assistant Professors Barba, and Coranez Bolton*.

Affiliated Faculty: Professors Cobham-Sander‡, Corrales*, and Stavans; Associate Professors Arboleda, and Walker*; Assistant Professors Infante, Ravikumar*, Sanchez-Naranjo, and Vicario.

Latinx and Latin American Studies (LLAS) is an interdisciplinary major program designed for students interested in critically examining the diverse histories and cultures of Latin America, the Caribbean, and U.S. Latinxs. Students in the major gain breadth and depth of learning through courses in the humanities and the social sciences that situate these histories and cultures within local, national, regional, hemispheric, and global contexts over time, while practical experiences such as community projects and study abroad provide opportunities to apply this learning in transformative ways.

Major Program. Majoring in LLAS requires the completion of nine courses: seven courses as described below, plus two additional courses to be chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor.

  • one required course: LLAS 200: Major Debates in Latinx and Latin American Studies.
  • one course on U.S. Latinxs in any department.
  • one course on Latin America in any department.
  • one course on the Caribbean in any department.
  • two courses taught in one of the languages spoken in Latin America and the Caribbean, other than English. These courses may focus on the development of language skills, and/or they may be content courses on a subject relevant to the Major.
  • a research or methods seminar in any department, with completion of the written project on a topic relevant to LLAS. In order to ensure that the research will be on a topic relevant to LLAS, the research or methods seminar must be approved by both the Major advisor and the professor teaching the course.

LLAS majors may credit up to three courses from another major, provided they fall into one of the categories listed above. In addition, majors must have

  • a concentration with at least three courses in one of the following areas: U.S. Latinxs, Latin America, or the Caribbean.
  • at least two courses in the humanities and at least two in the social sciences.
  • coursework in at least three departments.
  • residency requirement: at least five of the nine courses must be taken at Amherst College.
  • Capstone Requirement: The capstone requirement will be met through a portfolio of work done in the Major, introduced by a reflective essay that addresses how the interdisciplinary nature of the coursework informs a question or topic of special interest to the student and his/her long-term plans. Students will publicly share these reflections during a LLAS Major Capstone Symposium.

Departmental Honors Program. Candidates for Latin Honors must complete a senior thesis. The work of the thesis may be creative or scholarly in nature. Interested candidates must apply and be accepted by the end of their third year, and must, in addition to the coursework described above, enroll in LLAS 498 and/or 499 during their senior year.

*On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-2021. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22. 
 
 

130 Latinx Religion

(Offered as RELI 130and LLAS 130) On the dawn of the quincentenary of the Protestant Reformation, the April 2013 cover story of Time Magazine heralded the “Latino Reformation.” After 500 years of religious contact, conflict, and conversions throughout the Americas, “Latino USA” is undergoing unprecedented religious transformations. Latinxs, now comprising the largest ethnic minority group in the United States, are largely responsible for the new expressions of Abrahamic religious traditions in the country. This course is a historical survey of the growing and diverse U.S. Latinx religious experiences. The chronology of the course will begin with pre-contact Indian religions and cultures, then follow with an examination of Iberian Catholic and Indian contact cultures, Catholic and Protestant migrations into the U.S., and the negotiation and representation of Latinx religious identities today.

Spring semester. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2022

135 Race and Religion in the U.S. West/Mexico Borderlands

(Offered as REL 135, AMST 231, HIST 135 and LLAS 135) One historian aptly described the U.S. West as “one of the greatest meeting places on the planet." The region is a site of cultural complexity where New Mexican Penitentes maintained a criminalized sacred order, an African American holiness preacher forged the global Pentecostal movement, Native Americans staked out legal definitions and practices of "religion," Asian immigrants built their first Buddhist and Sikh temples in the face of persecution, and dispossessed Dust Bowl migrants (in the spirit of the Joad family in John Steinbeck’s novel the Grapes of Wrath) arrived and imported no-nonsense southern Baptist and Pentecostal sensibilities. Until recently, standard surveys of religious history in North America have devoted minimal attention to the distinctive role of religion in the American West and the region's shifting border, having largely focused rather on religious history in the flow of events westward from Massachusetts’s Puritan establishment. In this historical survey, we examine the contours of religion by taking into account new "sights," "cites," and "sites" of race, class, and gender in order to deconstruct and reconstruct the larger incomplete meta-narrative. First-year students are especially welcome. No prerequisites are necessary. 

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22.  Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

140 Immigration and White Supremacy

(Offered as AMST 140 and LJST 140) While discussions of white supremacy are more common now than even a few years ago, the image of the United States as a nation of immigrants remains popular. How can we connect these two notions, that on the one hand the country was founded on and practices a settler colonialism and racial capitalism that privileges whites, with that on the other hand many immigrants of color are working towards their American Dream? Through sociological and historical texts, the course will interrogate what is behind immigration to the United States, including the nation’s imperial and neocolonial interventions abroad that have created the foundation for much displacement. The course also delves into how immigrants navigate racial hierarchies – sometimes successfully and sometimes not – across a variety of spaces, including education, the workplace, cultural discourse, and more. Attention will be given to various groups, including Asian Americans, Latinxs, and others. Students will have research and writing assessments.

Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professors del Moral and Dhingra.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

144 Contemporary Dance Technique: Salsa Performance and Culture

(Offered as THDA 144H and LLAS 144H) This class introduces students to beginner-level salsa technique. We will explore the New York Mambo style of salsa, the Caracas street style, as well as elements of the Cuban Casino style. Students will master variations of the salsa basic step, turns, connecting steps, and arm work. Although we will mostly focus on solo practice, we will learn some essential concepts of partnering work based on the principles of leading and following. Toward the end of the semester, students will be able to use the acquired salsa vocabulary as the basis for improvising and choreographing combinations.

Through the study of salsa’s history, political dimensions, lyrical content, and matrilineal legacy, students will develop an understanding of this artistic expression not only as a dance form or musical genre, but also as a unifying voice of resistance and liberation for Caribbean and Latino cultures. Students will be able to recognize the voices of some of the most iconic Salsa artists and appreciate the contributions of some of the most important female Cuban and Cuban-American performers. We will investigate the legacy of Celia Cruz, paying close attention to the design and performance elements that defined her as The Queen of Salsa. Class discussions and brief writing assignments will serve as opportunities to reflect upon readings, documentaries and other information that will expand our understanding of the form.

Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

186 Pre-Columbian Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 186 and LLAS 186) This course provides an introduction to the Pre-Columbian art and architecture of the Americas. It explores major traditions in architecture and city planning, murals, sculpture, painting, masks, and textiles. The first half of the semester concentrates on Preclassic and Classic Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America); the second on Postclassic Mesoamerica, North America, and the Andes.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Couch.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

200 Major Debates in Latinx and Latin American Studies

(Offered as LLAS 200 and AMST 206) In this course students will become familiar with the major debates that have animated Latinx and Latin American Studies, addressing a wide range of issues from the Conquest to the present. Each week students will focus on specific questions such as: Does Latin America have a common culture? Is Latin America part of the Western world? Is Latinx a race or an ethnicity? Is U.S. Latinx identity rooted in Latin America or the United States? Are Latin American nations post-colonial? Was the modern concept of race invented in the Caribbean at the time of the Conquest? The opposing viewpoints around such questions will provide the main focus of the reading assignments, which will average two or three articles per week. In the first four weeks, students will learn a methodology for analyzing, contextualizing, and making arguments that they will apply in developing their own positions in the specific controversies that will make up the rest of the course.

Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Schroeder Rodriguez. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

201 Power and Resistance in the Black Atlantic

(Offered as BLST 201 [D] HIST 267 [AF/LA/TEp/TR] and LLAS 201) The formation of "the Black Atlantic" or "the African Diaspora" began with the earliest moments of European explorations of the West African coast in the fifteenth century and ended with the abolition of Brazilian slavery in 1888. This momentous historical event irrevocably reshaped the modern world. This course will trace the history of this transformation at two levels; first, we examine large scale historical processes including the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the development of plantation economies, and the birth of liberal democracy. With these sweeping stories as our backdrop, we will also explore the lives of individual Africans and African-Americans, the communities they built, and the cultures they created. We will consider the diversity of the Black Atlantic by examining the lives of a broad array of individuals, including black intellectuals, statesmen, soldiers, religious leaders, healers and rebels. Furthermore, we will pay special attention to trans-Atlantic historical formations common during this period, especially the contributions of Africans and their descendants to Atlantic cultures, societies, and ideas, ultimately understanding enslaved people as creative (rather than reactive) agents of history. So, our questions will be: What is the Black Atlantic? How can we understand both the commonalities and diversity of the experiences of Africans in the Diaspora? What kinds of communities, affinities, and identities did Africans create after being uprooted by the slave trade? What methods do scholars use to understand this history? And finally, what is the modern legacy of the Black Atlantic? Class time will be divided between lecture, small and large group discussion.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hicks.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

204 Housing, Urbanization, and Development

(Offered as ARCH 204, ARHA 204, and LLAS 204) This course studies the theory, policy, and practice of low-income housing in marginalized communities worldwide. We study central concepts in housing theory, key issues regarding low-income housing, different approaches to address these issues, and political debates around housing the poor. We use a comparative focus, going back and forth between the cases of the United States and the so-called developing world. By doing this, we engage in a “theory from without” exercise: We attempt to understand the housing problem in the United States from the perspective of the developing world, and vice versa. We study our subject through illustrated lectures, seminar discussions, documentary films, visual analysis exercises, and a field trip.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

205 Finding Your Bilingual Voice

(Offered as SPAN 205 and LLAS 205) Heritage learners of Spanish are students who have grown up speaking, listening, reading and/or writing Spanish with family or in their community. Because of their unique backgrounds, Spanish heritage language learners (SHLLs) are bilingual and bicultural. They function between a Hispanic and an American identity. This fluid and multiple identity can bring challenges, as SHLLs try to fit into both groups. With this in mind, through meaningful activities that focus on students’ experiences and emotions, this Spanish language course will center on bilingualism, specifically through writing, as a necessary means for identity formation. Because in narrating our stories with others, we enact our identities, this course will connect students with the bilingual community in Amherst or Holyoke. Through this course, students will incorporate their personal experience as SHLLs into their coursework. Activities will foster critical thinking, and students will learn to analyze, read, discuss, write, and reflect on issues of language, culture, and identity. Using a student-centered approach, the course will include collaborative brainstorming, free-writing, developing topics of personal importance, and peer and group editing in order to develop students’ writing proficiency and to build community.

This course prepares Spanish heritage language students for advanced-level courses offered by the Spanish Department. Limited to 18 students per section. This course may be counted toward the Spanish Major. The class will be conducted entirely in Spanish, though some assignments can be submitted in English. Prerequisite: SPAN 201, SPAN 202 or placement exam.

Consent Required (students must identify as Spanish heritage language students). Spring Semester. Senior Lecturer Granda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

225 Latin American Literature in Translation

A joyful introduction to modern Latin American literary classics in translation through the works of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, Julio Cortazar, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Roberto Bolano, Clarise Lispector, and others. The discussion-driven classes will focus on aesthetic movements like Magical Realism as well as on the development of national identity, mestizaje, civil unrest, racial and gender relations, humor, translation, and the opposition between Europeanized and indigenous worldviews. Students will delve into canonical poems, stories, essays, and short novels from the seventeenth century to the present that have reshaped the international scene. Language: English. 

Limited to 40 students. January term. Professor Stavans. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in January 2022, Spring 2022

226 Theorizing the Black Queer Americas

(Offered as BLST 226[D], LLAS 226 and SWAG 226) This course focuses on Black Queer and Trans life and struggle as well as the cultural and intellectual contributions Black Queer and Trans have made to in numerous fields throughout the Americas (North and South). While for many years narratives of the lives of Black LGBTQ people have been silenced and erased due to stigma and intersectional oppression on the basis of race, gender, and sexuality, scholars and artists in the past four decades have worked to recover the stories of Black Queer and Trans communities throughout the diaspora. The Black Queer/Trans Americas will dive into works that highlight these cultural contributions, while also understanding the compounded systemic violence that Black LGBTQ communities have faced and continue to face. By the end of this course students will have a strong understanding of how systems of power work to restrict the freedoms of Black Queer and Trans communities, and how Black LGBTQ people have lived, organized, and created in spite of and in response to these oppressions. This interdisciplinary undergraduate upper level course will utilize academic texts accompanied by poetry, fiction, film, television, and visual art to understand Black Queer and Trans subjectivities. In addition to course materials, the class will also make use of presentations from local artists, activists, and community members in the local area to add to the course experience. Every week will focus on a different theme or field of study related to Black LGBTQ+ life. 

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Poe.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

234 The Sanctuary Movement: Religion, Activism, and Social Contestation

(Offered as REL 234, AMST 234 and LLAS 234) From sanctuary cities and states to sanctuary campuses and churches, declarations of sanctuary sites have swept the nation in recent years. The U.S. Sanctuary Movement, established in 1982 to harbor Central American asylum seekers fleeing civil wars, has today assumed broader social implementations in the New Sanctuary Movement. Beginning with an examination of antecedents to the U.S. Sanctuary Movement in global contexts, this course will offer students an in-depth study of the Sanctuary Movement since the 1980s with special attention to the New Sanctuary Movement which is active today throughout the country.  

No prerequisites necessary. Limited to 20 students. 

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021

240 Religion on the Move: Religion and Migration in North America

(Offered as RELI 240 and LLAS 240) Little Syria in Manhattan, Crypto-Jewish homes in New Mexico, colonias Mormonas in northern Mexico, a Gurdwara deep in the crop-combed fields of California, and Detroit’s New Bethel Baptist Church (the vocal antechamber of Aretha Franklin’s #1 hit you might know as “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”) seem to have little in common. However, a historical examination of such sites reveals that they share basic social building blocks, shaped under similar push and pull factors. This course is concerned with the ways in which migrant groups have altered the religious landscape of North America and how they innovatively reproduce practices from their places of origin. Our main focus will be on the ramifications of religious movement within the U.S.; however, we will also explore migrations that have shaped the continent. Crossing into the U.S. from the eastern seaboard, the Pacific Rim, and the southern border with Mexico, migrants bring their new ways of creating sacred space and negotiating religious life. We will seek to understand the multifaceted relationships between religion and migration. How have migrants negotiated the role of religion in their private and public lives? What have been the social consequences pertaining to gender, praxis, politics, and respectability? The course takes into account migrations prior to the twentieth century in order to understand regional cultures within the U.S. Additionally, case studies in this course will draw heavily from the third wave of American immigration, characterized by twentieth-century “internal migrations” of African Americans, Latinas/os, Native Americans, and rural dwellers into the urban environments. We will conclude by examining the ways in which forces of modern globalization have changed the nature of religious diversity in the U.S. We will extensively compare migrant cultures as we interrogate power and privilege pertaining to race and religion. The cultural production of these migrant groups under study will bring to the class an empathetic understanding of diverse cultures and their forms of belonging.

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020

248 Cuba: The Politics of Extremism

(Offered as POSC 248 and LLAS 248) The study of Cuba’s politics presents opportunities to address issues of universal concern to social scientists and humanists in general, not just Latin Americanists. When is it rational to be radical? Why has Cuban politics forced so many individuals to adopt extreme positions? What are the causes of radical revolutions? Is pre-revolutionary Cuba a case of too little development, uneven development or too rapid development? What is the role of leaders: Do they make history, are they the product of history, or are they the makers of unintended histories? Was the revolution inevitable? Was it necessary? How are new (radical) states constructed? What is the role of foreign actors, existing political institutions, ethnicity, nationalism, religion and sexuality in this process? How does a small nation manage to become influential in world affairs, even altering the behavior of superpowers? What are the conditions that account for the survival of authoritarianism? To what extent is the revolution capable of self-reform? Is the current intention of state leaders of pursuing closed politics with open economics viable? What are the most effective mechanisms to change the regime? Why does the embargo survive? Why did Cubans (at home and abroad) care about Elián González? Although the readings will be mostly from social scientists, the course also includes selections from primary sources, literary works and films (of Cuban and non-Cuban origin). As with almost everything in politics, there are more than just two sides to the issue of Cuba. One aim of the course is to expose the students to as many different sides as possible.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Corrales.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Fall 2019

261 History of Central America

(Offered as HIST 261 [LA/TC/TE/TR/TS] and LLAS 261) In this course, students will gain an understanding of major events and themes in the histories of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. As important, they will think and write critically about the contentious history of the region. For good reason, Central America is often considered as a whole, but despite many commonalities, each country's history is unique. How did the indigenous cultures of northern Central America compare to those of the south? Why did the once-united Federation of Central America fracture into five different states? How did Honduras become the quintessential "banana republic"? Why did Guatemala suffer decades of military dictatorships, while Costa Rica abolished its military at the same time? Through lectures and readings, we will answer these questions as we address topics including precolonial indigenous cultures; the conquest, slavery, and encomienda; independence and the struggles of nation-building; foreign interventions; and reforms, revolutions, and counterrevolutions. Two class meetings per week.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

262 Latin America and the United States

(Offered as HIST 262 [LA/TE] and LLAS 262) In this course, students will gain an understanding of major events and themes in the history of United States foreign policy toward Latin America from colonial times to the present.  As important, they will think and write critically about the contentious history of U.S.-Latin American relations.  Just a few of the many topics to be addressed are the Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. invasion of Mexico, the construction of the Panama Canal, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and the Iran-Contra Scandal.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020

263 Struggles for Democracy in Modern Latin America, 1820 to the Present

(Offered as HIST 263 [LA/TE/TR/TS] and LLAS 263) Latin Americans began their struggle for democracy during the independence wars at the start of the nineteenth century. Their struggle continues today. This course considers the historical meanings of democracy in various Latin American countries, with particular attention to the relationship between liberalism and democracy in the nineteenth century; the broadening of democracy at the start of the twentieth century; the rise and fall of military dictatorships in the 1960s–1980s and their impact upon civil society; and the current clashes between neo-liberal economic programs and the neo-populist resurgence of the left. Readings and discussions will focus on the ways broad economic and political shifts impacted individuals' lives; how each economic class experienced these shifts differently; the way race and gender have shaped peoples' experience with democratization and repression; and the personal processes of radicalization by which individuals became inspired to take risks in their struggle for inclusion and against repression. Because the approach is thematic and chronological, some countries and regions will receive more attention than others. Meetings and readings will draw on secondary studies, historical documents, testimonials, music, images, and film. Two meetings per week.

Spring Semester. Professor López.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

264 Introduction to Latin America: Conquest, Colonization and Rebellion

(Offered as HIST 264 [LA/TC/TE/TR/P] and LLAS 264)  Over the course of three centuries, massive migrations from Europe and Africa and the dramatic decline of indigenous populations in South and Central America radically transformed the cultural, political, economic, and material landscape of what we today know as Latin America. This course will investigate the dynamism of Latin American societies beginning in the ancient or pre-conquest period and ending with the collapse of European rule in most Spanish, Portuguese, and French speaking territories in the New World. We will explore this history through the eyes of various historical actors, including politicians, explorers, noble men and women, indigenous intellectuals, and African slaves. In addition to interrogating the myriad of peaceable and creative cross-cultural exchanges and interactions that characterized the relationship between these groups, we will also explore how conflict, exploitation, and natural disaster shaped the Colonial Latin American experience. Through a mixture of lecture, small and large group activities, and analysis of primary and secondary sources we will also consider how historians understand the past as well as the foundational debates which shape our current interpretations of colonial Latin American history. Two class meetings per week.

Fall semester. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

301 Literature and Culture of the Hispanic World

(Offered as SPAN 301 and LLAS 301) This course provides an introduction to the diverse literatures and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world over the course of six centuries, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. Students will learn the tools, language, and critical vocabulary for advanced work reading the canon of Hispanic literatures from Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean Basin, identifying aesthetic trends, historical periods and diverse genres such as poetry, narrative, theater and film. The syllabus will include a wide variety of authors of different national, political, and artistic persuasions and an array of linguistic styles. This course prepares students for advanced work in Spanish and for study abroad.

Requisite SPAN 202 or Spanish Placement Exam. Proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Spanish are required. Limited to 20 students per section. Fall semester: Visiting Professor Porter.  Spring semester: Professor Brenneis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

341 Mexican Rebels 

(Offered as LLAS 341 and HIST 341 [LA/TE/TR/TS]) What inspires individuals to risk everything to try to change their world? Students will attempt to answer this question through cases ranging from personal acts of rebellion, to social movements and armed conflict. The course pays close attention to personal acts of rebellion against repressive racial, political, and gender structures, focusing on such figures as Hernán Córtes’s legendary consort La Malinche (Malintzin Tenepal), the seventeenth-century protofeminist Sor Juana Inéz de la Cruz, the transgender revolutionary general Amelia/o Robles Ávila, and the artists Gerardo Murillo, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. We also will address armed conflicts such as the Tlaxcalan war against the Aztec Empire, the Wars of Independence (1810-1821), the Maya uprising against white domination in the second half of the nineteenth century, guerrilla resistance against US and French invasions in the 1840s and 1860s, the War of Reform (1857-1860), the Cristero War (1926-1929), the Zapatista uprising of the 1990s, and, most importantly, the Mexican Revolution of (1910-1921). And we will examine social protests, such as the student movement that ended in the Tlatelolco Massacre of 1968, El Barzón, #YoSoy132, MORENA, APPO, the Ayotzinapa protests, and peasant ecology initiatives.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor R. Lopez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

342 Marxism and Revolution in Twentieth-Century Latin America

(Offered as HIST 342 [LA] and LLAS 342) With one significant exception, Latin America’s major revolutions have been led by groups espousing one of three main currents of Marxist thought: Marxism-Leninism (Stalinism), Trotskyism, and Maoism. In this course, the student will master the basics of those theories through the reading and analysis of their primary texts. We will then consider case studies of Marxist-inspired revolutions in Bolivia, Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, and Peru. With the aid of lectures and further readings, the student will critically evaluate, in a series of papers, how Marxist theories were applied in practice in twentieth-century Latin America. One class meeting per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2019

343 Comparative Borderlands: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Transnational Perspective

(Offered as SPAN 342, LLAS 343 and SWAG 343) “Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out,” Chicana feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldúa wrote in the hybrid text Borderlands/La Frontera. She was referring to, what she called, the linguistic imperialism of English in the US Southwest. And yet she also carved out a third space for those subjects at the crossroads of multiple ways of being – the queer and the abject. In this course, we will examine cultural and literary texts that speak to the ways that race, gender, and sexual identity are conditioned by the historical development of geopolitical borders. We will pay particular attention to the US-Mexico Borderlands but we will also examine other places in which “borderlands” of identity exist. Course conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

344 The Cuban Revolution, 1959–2009

(Offered as HIST 344 [LA] and LLAS 344) Sixty years after its triumph, the Cuban revolution continues to ignite controversy and to influence the politics of the Americas and beyond This course will provide an in-depth examination of the origins, course, development, and historical interpretations of the Cuban revolution over its first half-century. Its charismatic leader, Fidel Castro, will receive special attention, as will his closest collaborators: the honorary Cuban, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, and Fidel's younger brother, Raúl. Among many other topics to be explored are the revolution's turn to Marxism-Leninism and the Soviet bloc; its contentious relationship with the United States; the creation and construction of a Cuban socialism; Cuba's special relationship with Africa; and the perennial efforts of Cuban émigrés to overthrow the revolution. We will conclude by considering the revolution's prospects in a post-Soviet—and now post-Fidel—world.

Not offered 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

(Offered as HIST 345 [LA/TR/TS], LLAS 345, and SWAG 345) Popular mythologies of Latin America have historically relied on hyper-masculine archetypes, including the conquistador, the caudillo, and the guerrillero to explain the continent’s past, culture and political development. By contrast, students in this course will be asked to bring women, gender and sexuality from the margins to the center of Latin American history. In doing so, we will reevaluate four transformative historical moments: the Spanish conquest, the wars of independence, the emergence of industrial capitalism, and the proliferation of late twentieth-century political revolutions. Through an exploration of these key periods of upheaval we will assess how social conflict was frequently mediated through competing definitions of masculinity and femininity. In addition, this course will explore the ways in which women’s activism has been central to social and political movements across the continent. Furthermore, we will investigate how the domain of sexual practice and reproduction underpinned broader conflicts over racial purity, worker power, and the boundaries of citizenship in racially and ethnically diverse societies. The course will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered in 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

346 Indigenous Histories of Latin America

(Offered as HIST 346 [LA/TE/TR]  and LLAS 346) In this course, students will explore the cultures and civilizations of native peoples of Latin America from ancient times to the present.  Examining the Caribbean, Mesoamerican, Andean, and Amazonian regions, we will consider questions such as: What were the earliest cultures of the Americas like?  How did civilizations such as the Maya, the Aztecs, and the Inca confront the unprecedented challenges of the conquest?  How did indigenous peoples resist and forcibly adapt to centuries of Spanish and Portuguese colonialism?  What roles did native peoples  play in the new nations of the nineteenth century?  How have indigenous peoples pursued their own struggles for citizenship in the face of threats to their autonomy and the environment?  In a series of short writing assignments and a longer paper based on original research, students will explore secondary historiographies, analyze diverse primary sources, and discuss different historical methods in the study of the indigenous past and present. Two meetings per week.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

 
2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

357 Understanding Spanish Structure and Use

(Offered as SPAN 357 and LLAS 357) Spanish is the second-most widely spoken language in the world. With more than 400 million native speakers, it has official status in 21 countries. In the United States more than 40 million people use Spanish in their daily lives. What exactly is the Spanish language? What do you actually know when you speak Spanish? These questions are at the heart of this course. By following a bottom-up design—from smallest to largest segments of language—we will understand the basic characteristics of human language and will examine the architecture of the Spanish language: how its sounds are produced and how they combine; how its words are constructed from their component parts; how its sentences are formed; how its meanings are understood; and how its use reflects aspects of our socio-cultural behavior. As an approach to the formal study of the Spanish language, we will explore actual and diverse language data such as texts, speech samples, and songs to grasp complex linguistic phenomena. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: Spanish 202 or permission of instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Sánchez-Naranjo.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022

362 Childhood in African and Caribbean Literature

(Offered as ENGL 318, BLST 362 [A/CLA], and LLAS 362) The course will concentrate on Caribbean authors. It explores the process of self-definition in literary works from Africa and the Caribbean that are built around child protagonists. We will examine the authors’ various methods of ordering experience through the choice of literary form and narrative technique, as well as the child/author’s perception of his or her society. French texts will be read in translation.

Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Cobham-Sander.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2020

375 Amherst Latinx Lives

(Offered as AMST 375, LLAS 375, SOCI 375 and SPAN 375) Over the past four decades, the Latinx student population at Amherst has increased more than seven-fold, from about 30 students per class in the 1970s, to over 200 per class in the last several years. As a community, however, we know very little about the subjective experience of Latinxs who live, study, and work at Amherst College. In this course, we will read and discuss different genres of scholarship that focus on the Latinx experience—empirical research, fiction, memoirs, and films—before proceeding to a series of workshops on how to conduct oral history interviews. Students will then apply this theoretical and practical knowledge to an exploration of the experiences of Latinx students, alumni, faculty, and staff in our community. These interviews will form the basis of a collectively-edited documentary designed to encourage cross-cultural dialogues within and outside the Latinx community, and in the process, increase awareness of the diversity of Latinx lives on our campus. Students of all backgrounds are welcome, and knowledge of Spanish or Spanglish is useful but not required.

Admission with the consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-2022 Professors Schroeder Rodríguez and Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

451 Translation Roots of a US Literary Landscape

(Offered as SPAN 451 and LLAS 451) This course highlights literary connections between the United States and the Spanish-speaking world via translation. Through a study of texts from the late nineteenth century to the present, we will look at the role of translation in literary histories and current literary activities. We will examine how writers have translated in order to practice and enhance their creative writing. We will use translation as a way to access and analyze literary texts. We will also think about translation as professional and collaborative activities. We will study the work of José Martí (Cuba), Julia de Burgos (Puerto Rico), Silvina Ocampo (Argentina), Felipe Alfau (Catalonia-Spain), Salvador Dalí (Catalonia-Spain), Achy Obejas (Cuba), and Urayoán Noel (Puerto Rico), among others. In addition, we will explore ways of contributing with translational activities to our own literary landscape in the Amherst area by possibly collaborating with local institutions such as the Emily Dickinson Museum, the Eric Carle Museum, and the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or permission of the instructor.  Limited to 18 students. Fall Semester: Visiting Associate Professor Galasso.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

455 One Hundred Years of Solitude

(Offered as LLAS 455 and SPAN 455) A patient, detailed, Talmudic reading of Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpiece, Cien años de soledad, known as “the Bible of Latin America.” The course sets it in biographical, historical, and aesthetic context. Conducted in Spanish.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Stavans. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2018, Spring 2021

461 The Creole Imagination

(Offered as ENGL 491, BLST 461 [CLA], and LLAS 461) What would it mean to write in the language in which we dream? A language that we can hear, but cannot (yet) see? Is it possible to conceive a language outside the socio-symbolic order? And can one language subvert the codes and values of another? Questions like these have animated the creolité/nation language debate among Caribbean intellectuals since the mid-1970s, producing some of the most significant francophone and anglophone writing of the twentieth century. This course reads across philosophy, cultural theory, politics, and literature in order to consider the claims such works make for the Creole imagination. We will engage the theoretical and creative work of Édouard Glissant, Maryse Condé, Wilson Harris, Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, Patrick Chamoiseau, Jamaica Kincaid, and Edwidge Danticat. We also will consider how these writers transform some of the fundamental ideas of psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and critical historiography. At stake in our readings will be the various aesthetic and political aspects of postcolonial struggle–how to think outside the colonial architecture of language; how to contest and subvert what remains from history’s violence; and how to evaluate the claims to authenticity of creolized New World cultural forms.

Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Cobham-Sander.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2020

463 Research Seminar in the History of the Atlantic Slave Trade

(Offered as BLST 363 [CLA], HIST 463 [AF/TC/TE/TS/TR/P] and LLAS 463) In this course students will consult, analyze, and employ a variety of sources, including the accounts of missionaries, journals of slave traders, the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, and the few available slave narratives written by Africans. Students will be presented with the tools to write original research on topics including the involvement of Western African societies in the slave trade, the logistics of the Middle Passage, characteristics of the captives transported from Africa to the Americas, and the Africans' own experiences of the Middle Passage and adaptation to the slave régimes of the Americas. Students will write a series of short assignments leading up to a major research paper of 20-25 pages.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

485 Telenovelas

(Offered as SPAN 485 and LLAS 485) Arguably the most influential popular form of cultural expression in Latin America, a single episode of any prime-time telenovela is watched by more people than all the accumulated number of Spanish-language readers of One Hundred Years of Solitude over time. The course will explore the historical origin and development of telenovelas as well as various production techniques, the way scripts are shaped and actors are asked to perform, the role of music and other sounds, etc. Each country in the region has its own telenovela tradition. We will look at Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and the Spanish-language productions of Univisión and Telemundo in the United States, among others. But the main objective of the course will be to analyze the performative nature of emotions in telenovelas and also gender, class, and political tension on the small screen. And we will delve into the strategies various governments have used by means of telenovelas to control the population (“melodrama is the true opium of the masses,” said a prominent Mexican telenovela director), their use as educational devices, and the clash between telenovelas and fútbol in the region’s celebrity ecosystem. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Stavans.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499 Senior Honors

Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Related Courses

AMST-305 Gender, Migration and Power: Latinos in the Americas (Course not offered this year.)
ARHA-255 Latin American Art: Strategies and Tactics (Course not offered this year.)
BLST-201 Power and Resistance in the Black Atlantic (Course not offered this year.)
ENGL-491 The Creole Imagination (Course not offered this year.)
HIST-345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-248 Cuba: The Politics of Extremism (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-307 States of Extraction: Nature, Women, and World Politics (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-421 Indigenous World Politics (Course not offered this year.)
RELI-240 Religion on the Move: Religion and Migration in North America (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-330 Latin American Cinema (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-335 New Latin American Documentary (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-370 <em>Mare Nostrum</em>: The Caribbean as Idea and Invention (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-435 Puerto Rico: Diaspora Nation (Course not offered this year.)

About Amherst College

About Amherst College

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Latinx and Latin American Studies

Professors del Moral, R. López (Chair), Schmalzbauer*, and Schroeder Rodríguez; Associate Professor Lohse; Assistant Professors Barba, and Coranez Bolton*.

Affiliated Faculty: Professors Cobham-Sander‡, Corrales*, and Stavans; Associate Professors Arboleda, and Walker*; Assistant Professors Infante, Ravikumar*, Sanchez-Naranjo, and Vicario.

Latinx and Latin American Studies (LLAS) is an interdisciplinary major program designed for students interested in critically examining the diverse histories and cultures of Latin America, the Caribbean, and U.S. Latinxs. Students in the major gain breadth and depth of learning through courses in the humanities and the social sciences that situate these histories and cultures within local, national, regional, hemispheric, and global contexts over time, while practical experiences such as community projects and study abroad provide opportunities to apply this learning in transformative ways.

Major Program. Majoring in LLAS requires the completion of nine courses: seven courses as described below, plus two additional courses to be chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor.

  • one required course: LLAS 200: Major Debates in Latinx and Latin American Studies.
  • one course on U.S. Latinxs in any department.
  • one course on Latin America in any department.
  • one course on the Caribbean in any department.
  • two courses taught in one of the languages spoken in Latin America and the Caribbean, other than English. These courses may focus on the development of language skills, and/or they may be content courses on a subject relevant to the Major.
  • a research or methods seminar in any department, with completion of the written project on a topic relevant to LLAS. In order to ensure that the research will be on a topic relevant to LLAS, the research or methods seminar must be approved by both the Major advisor and the professor teaching the course.

LLAS majors may credit up to three courses from another major, provided they fall into one of the categories listed above. In addition, majors must have

  • a concentration with at least three courses in one of the following areas: U.S. Latinxs, Latin America, or the Caribbean.
  • at least two courses in the humanities and at least two in the social sciences.
  • coursework in at least three departments.
  • residency requirement: at least five of the nine courses must be taken at Amherst College.
  • Capstone Requirement: The capstone requirement will be met through a portfolio of work done in the Major, introduced by a reflective essay that addresses how the interdisciplinary nature of the coursework informs a question or topic of special interest to the student and his/her long-term plans. Students will publicly share these reflections during a LLAS Major Capstone Symposium.

Departmental Honors Program. Candidates for Latin Honors must complete a senior thesis. The work of the thesis may be creative or scholarly in nature. Interested candidates must apply and be accepted by the end of their third year, and must, in addition to the coursework described above, enroll in LLAS 498 and/or 499 during their senior year.

*On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-2021. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22. 
 
 

130 Latinx Religion

(Offered as RELI 130and LLAS 130) On the dawn of the quincentenary of the Protestant Reformation, the April 2013 cover story of Time Magazine heralded the “Latino Reformation.” After 500 years of religious contact, conflict, and conversions throughout the Americas, “Latino USA” is undergoing unprecedented religious transformations. Latinxs, now comprising the largest ethnic minority group in the United States, are largely responsible for the new expressions of Abrahamic religious traditions in the country. This course is a historical survey of the growing and diverse U.S. Latinx religious experiences. The chronology of the course will begin with pre-contact Indian religions and cultures, then follow with an examination of Iberian Catholic and Indian contact cultures, Catholic and Protestant migrations into the U.S., and the negotiation and representation of Latinx religious identities today.

Spring semester. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2022

135 Race and Religion in the U.S. West/Mexico Borderlands

(Offered as REL 135, AMST 231, HIST 135 and LLAS 135) One historian aptly described the U.S. West as “one of the greatest meeting places on the planet." The region is a site of cultural complexity where New Mexican Penitentes maintained a criminalized sacred order, an African American holiness preacher forged the global Pentecostal movement, Native Americans staked out legal definitions and practices of "religion," Asian immigrants built their first Buddhist and Sikh temples in the face of persecution, and dispossessed Dust Bowl migrants (in the spirit of the Joad family in John Steinbeck’s novel the Grapes of Wrath) arrived and imported no-nonsense southern Baptist and Pentecostal sensibilities. Until recently, standard surveys of religious history in North America have devoted minimal attention to the distinctive role of religion in the American West and the region's shifting border, having largely focused rather on religious history in the flow of events westward from Massachusetts’s Puritan establishment. In this historical survey, we examine the contours of religion by taking into account new "sights," "cites," and "sites" of race, class, and gender in order to deconstruct and reconstruct the larger incomplete meta-narrative. First-year students are especially welcome. No prerequisites are necessary. 

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22.  Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

140 Immigration and White Supremacy

(Offered as AMST 140 and LJST 140) While discussions of white supremacy are more common now than even a few years ago, the image of the United States as a nation of immigrants remains popular. How can we connect these two notions, that on the one hand the country was founded on and practices a settler colonialism and racial capitalism that privileges whites, with that on the other hand many immigrants of color are working towards their American Dream? Through sociological and historical texts, the course will interrogate what is behind immigration to the United States, including the nation’s imperial and neocolonial interventions abroad that have created the foundation for much displacement. The course also delves into how immigrants navigate racial hierarchies – sometimes successfully and sometimes not – across a variety of spaces, including education, the workplace, cultural discourse, and more. Attention will be given to various groups, including Asian Americans, Latinxs, and others. Students will have research and writing assessments.

Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professors del Moral and Dhingra.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

144 Contemporary Dance Technique: Salsa Performance and Culture

(Offered as THDA 144H and LLAS 144H) This class introduces students to beginner-level salsa technique. We will explore the New York Mambo style of salsa, the Caracas street style, as well as elements of the Cuban Casino style. Students will master variations of the salsa basic step, turns, connecting steps, and arm work. Although we will mostly focus on solo practice, we will learn some essential concepts of partnering work based on the principles of leading and following. Toward the end of the semester, students will be able to use the acquired salsa vocabulary as the basis for improvising and choreographing combinations.

Through the study of salsa’s history, political dimensions, lyrical content, and matrilineal legacy, students will develop an understanding of this artistic expression not only as a dance form or musical genre, but also as a unifying voice of resistance and liberation for Caribbean and Latino cultures. Students will be able to recognize the voices of some of the most iconic Salsa artists and appreciate the contributions of some of the most important female Cuban and Cuban-American performers. We will investigate the legacy of Celia Cruz, paying close attention to the design and performance elements that defined her as The Queen of Salsa. Class discussions and brief writing assignments will serve as opportunities to reflect upon readings, documentaries and other information that will expand our understanding of the form.

Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

186 Pre-Columbian Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 186 and LLAS 186) This course provides an introduction to the Pre-Columbian art and architecture of the Americas. It explores major traditions in architecture and city planning, murals, sculpture, painting, masks, and textiles. The first half of the semester concentrates on Preclassic and Classic Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America); the second on Postclassic Mesoamerica, North America, and the Andes.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Couch.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

200 Major Debates in Latinx and Latin American Studies

(Offered as LLAS 200 and AMST 206) In this course students will become familiar with the major debates that have animated Latinx and Latin American Studies, addressing a wide range of issues from the Conquest to the present. Each week students will focus on specific questions such as: Does Latin America have a common culture? Is Latin America part of the Western world? Is Latinx a race or an ethnicity? Is U.S. Latinx identity rooted in Latin America or the United States? Are Latin American nations post-colonial? Was the modern concept of race invented in the Caribbean at the time of the Conquest? The opposing viewpoints around such questions will provide the main focus of the reading assignments, which will average two or three articles per week. In the first four weeks, students will learn a methodology for analyzing, contextualizing, and making arguments that they will apply in developing their own positions in the specific controversies that will make up the rest of the course.

Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Schroeder Rodriguez. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

201 Power and Resistance in the Black Atlantic

(Offered as BLST 201 [D] HIST 267 [AF/LA/TEp/TR] and LLAS 201) The formation of "the Black Atlantic" or "the African Diaspora" began with the earliest moments of European explorations of the West African coast in the fifteenth century and ended with the abolition of Brazilian slavery in 1888. This momentous historical event irrevocably reshaped the modern world. This course will trace the history of this transformation at two levels; first, we examine large scale historical processes including the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the development of plantation economies, and the birth of liberal democracy. With these sweeping stories as our backdrop, we will also explore the lives of individual Africans and African-Americans, the communities they built, and the cultures they created. We will consider the diversity of the Black Atlantic by examining the lives of a broad array of individuals, including black intellectuals, statesmen, soldiers, religious leaders, healers and rebels. Furthermore, we will pay special attention to trans-Atlantic historical formations common during this period, especially the contributions of Africans and their descendants to Atlantic cultures, societies, and ideas, ultimately understanding enslaved people as creative (rather than reactive) agents of history. So, our questions will be: What is the Black Atlantic? How can we understand both the commonalities and diversity of the experiences of Africans in the Diaspora? What kinds of communities, affinities, and identities did Africans create after being uprooted by the slave trade? What methods do scholars use to understand this history? And finally, what is the modern legacy of the Black Atlantic? Class time will be divided between lecture, small and large group discussion.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hicks.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

204 Housing, Urbanization, and Development

(Offered as ARCH 204, ARHA 204, and LLAS 204) This course studies the theory, policy, and practice of low-income housing in marginalized communities worldwide. We study central concepts in housing theory, key issues regarding low-income housing, different approaches to address these issues, and political debates around housing the poor. We use a comparative focus, going back and forth between the cases of the United States and the so-called developing world. By doing this, we engage in a “theory from without” exercise: We attempt to understand the housing problem in the United States from the perspective of the developing world, and vice versa. We study our subject through illustrated lectures, seminar discussions, documentary films, visual analysis exercises, and a field trip.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

205 Finding Your Bilingual Voice

(Offered as SPAN 205 and LLAS 205) Heritage learners of Spanish are students who have grown up speaking, listening, reading and/or writing Spanish with family or in their community. Because of their unique backgrounds, Spanish heritage language learners (SHLLs) are bilingual and bicultural. They function between a Hispanic and an American identity. This fluid and multiple identity can bring challenges, as SHLLs try to fit into both groups. With this in mind, through meaningful activities that focus on students’ experiences and emotions, this Spanish language course will center on bilingualism, specifically through writing, as a necessary means for identity formation. Because in narrating our stories with others, we enact our identities, this course will connect students with the bilingual community in Amherst or Holyoke. Through this course, students will incorporate their personal experience as SHLLs into their coursework. Activities will foster critical thinking, and students will learn to analyze, read, discuss, write, and reflect on issues of language, culture, and identity. Using a student-centered approach, the course will include collaborative brainstorming, free-writing, developing topics of personal importance, and peer and group editing in order to develop students’ writing proficiency and to build community.

This course prepares Spanish heritage language students for advanced-level courses offered by the Spanish Department. Limited to 18 students per section. This course may be counted toward the Spanish Major. The class will be conducted entirely in Spanish, though some assignments can be submitted in English. Prerequisite: SPAN 201, SPAN 202 or placement exam.

Consent Required (students must identify as Spanish heritage language students). Spring Semester. Senior Lecturer Granda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

225 Latin American Literature in Translation

A joyful introduction to modern Latin American literary classics in translation through the works of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, Julio Cortazar, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Roberto Bolano, Clarise Lispector, and others. The discussion-driven classes will focus on aesthetic movements like Magical Realism as well as on the development of national identity, mestizaje, civil unrest, racial and gender relations, humor, translation, and the opposition between Europeanized and indigenous worldviews. Students will delve into canonical poems, stories, essays, and short novels from the seventeenth century to the present that have reshaped the international scene. Language: English. 

Limited to 40 students. January term. Professor Stavans. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in January 2022, Spring 2022

226 Theorizing the Black Queer Americas

(Offered as BLST 226[D], LLAS 226 and SWAG 226) This course focuses on Black Queer and Trans life and struggle as well as the cultural and intellectual contributions Black Queer and Trans have made to in numerous fields throughout the Americas (North and South). While for many years narratives of the lives of Black LGBTQ people have been silenced and erased due to stigma and intersectional oppression on the basis of race, gender, and sexuality, scholars and artists in the past four decades have worked to recover the stories of Black Queer and Trans communities throughout the diaspora. The Black Queer/Trans Americas will dive into works that highlight these cultural contributions, while also understanding the compounded systemic violence that Black LGBTQ communities have faced and continue to face. By the end of this course students will have a strong understanding of how systems of power work to restrict the freedoms of Black Queer and Trans communities, and how Black LGBTQ people have lived, organized, and created in spite of and in response to these oppressions. This interdisciplinary undergraduate upper level course will utilize academic texts accompanied by poetry, fiction, film, television, and visual art to understand Black Queer and Trans subjectivities. In addition to course materials, the class will also make use of presentations from local artists, activists, and community members in the local area to add to the course experience. Every week will focus on a different theme or field of study related to Black LGBTQ+ life. 

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Poe.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

234 The Sanctuary Movement: Religion, Activism, and Social Contestation

(Offered as REL 234, AMST 234 and LLAS 234) From sanctuary cities and states to sanctuary campuses and churches, declarations of sanctuary sites have swept the nation in recent years. The U.S. Sanctuary Movement, established in 1982 to harbor Central American asylum seekers fleeing civil wars, has today assumed broader social implementations in the New Sanctuary Movement. Beginning with an examination of antecedents to the U.S. Sanctuary Movement in global contexts, this course will offer students an in-depth study of the Sanctuary Movement since the 1980s with special attention to the New Sanctuary Movement which is active today throughout the country.  

No prerequisites necessary. Limited to 20 students. 

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021

240 Religion on the Move: Religion and Migration in North America

(Offered as RELI 240 and LLAS 240) Little Syria in Manhattan, Crypto-Jewish homes in New Mexico, colonias Mormonas in northern Mexico, a Gurdwara deep in the crop-combed fields of California, and Detroit’s New Bethel Baptist Church (the vocal antechamber of Aretha Franklin’s #1 hit you might know as “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”) seem to have little in common. However, a historical examination of such sites reveals that they share basic social building blocks, shaped under similar push and pull factors. This course is concerned with the ways in which migrant groups have altered the religious landscape of North America and how they innovatively reproduce practices from their places of origin. Our main focus will be on the ramifications of religious movement within the U.S.; however, we will also explore migrations that have shaped the continent. Crossing into the U.S. from the eastern seaboard, the Pacific Rim, and the southern border with Mexico, migrants bring their new ways of creating sacred space and negotiating religious life. We will seek to understand the multifaceted relationships between religion and migration. How have migrants negotiated the role of religion in their private and public lives? What have been the social consequences pertaining to gender, praxis, politics, and respectability? The course takes into account migrations prior to the twentieth century in order to understand regional cultures within the U.S. Additionally, case studies in this course will draw heavily from the third wave of American immigration, characterized by twentieth-century “internal migrations” of African Americans, Latinas/os, Native Americans, and rural dwellers into the urban environments. We will conclude by examining the ways in which forces of modern globalization have changed the nature of religious diversity in the U.S. We will extensively compare migrant cultures as we interrogate power and privilege pertaining to race and religion. The cultural production of these migrant groups under study will bring to the class an empathetic understanding of diverse cultures and their forms of belonging.

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020

248 Cuba: The Politics of Extremism

(Offered as POSC 248 and LLAS 248) The study of Cuba’s politics presents opportunities to address issues of universal concern to social scientists and humanists in general, not just Latin Americanists. When is it rational to be radical? Why has Cuban politics forced so many individuals to adopt extreme positions? What are the causes of radical revolutions? Is pre-revolutionary Cuba a case of too little development, uneven development or too rapid development? What is the role of leaders: Do they make history, are they the product of history, or are they the makers of unintended histories? Was the revolution inevitable? Was it necessary? How are new (radical) states constructed? What is the role of foreign actors, existing political institutions, ethnicity, nationalism, religion and sexuality in this process? How does a small nation manage to become influential in world affairs, even altering the behavior of superpowers? What are the conditions that account for the survival of authoritarianism? To what extent is the revolution capable of self-reform? Is the current intention of state leaders of pursuing closed politics with open economics viable? What are the most effective mechanisms to change the regime? Why does the embargo survive? Why did Cubans (at home and abroad) care about Elián González? Although the readings will be mostly from social scientists, the course also includes selections from primary sources, literary works and films (of Cuban and non-Cuban origin). As with almost everything in politics, there are more than just two sides to the issue of Cuba. One aim of the course is to expose the students to as many different sides as possible.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Corrales.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Fall 2019

261 History of Central America

(Offered as HIST 261 [LA/TC/TE/TR/TS] and LLAS 261) In this course, students will gain an understanding of major events and themes in the histories of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. As important, they will think and write critically about the contentious history of the region. For good reason, Central America is often considered as a whole, but despite many commonalities, each country's history is unique. How did the indigenous cultures of northern Central America compare to those of the south? Why did the once-united Federation of Central America fracture into five different states? How did Honduras become the quintessential "banana republic"? Why did Guatemala suffer decades of military dictatorships, while Costa Rica abolished its military at the same time? Through lectures and readings, we will answer these questions as we address topics including precolonial indigenous cultures; the conquest, slavery, and encomienda; independence and the struggles of nation-building; foreign interventions; and reforms, revolutions, and counterrevolutions. Two class meetings per week.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

262 Latin America and the United States

(Offered as HIST 262 [LA/TE] and LLAS 262) In this course, students will gain an understanding of major events and themes in the history of United States foreign policy toward Latin America from colonial times to the present.  As important, they will think and write critically about the contentious history of U.S.-Latin American relations.  Just a few of the many topics to be addressed are the Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. invasion of Mexico, the construction of the Panama Canal, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and the Iran-Contra Scandal.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020

263 Struggles for Democracy in Modern Latin America, 1820 to the Present

(Offered as HIST 263 [LA/TE/TR/TS] and LLAS 263) Latin Americans began their struggle for democracy during the independence wars at the start of the nineteenth century. Their struggle continues today. This course considers the historical meanings of democracy in various Latin American countries, with particular attention to the relationship between liberalism and democracy in the nineteenth century; the broadening of democracy at the start of the twentieth century; the rise and fall of military dictatorships in the 1960s–1980s and their impact upon civil society; and the current clashes between neo-liberal economic programs and the neo-populist resurgence of the left. Readings and discussions will focus on the ways broad economic and political shifts impacted individuals' lives; how each economic class experienced these shifts differently; the way race and gender have shaped peoples' experience with democratization and repression; and the personal processes of radicalization by which individuals became inspired to take risks in their struggle for inclusion and against repression. Because the approach is thematic and chronological, some countries and regions will receive more attention than others. Meetings and readings will draw on secondary studies, historical documents, testimonials, music, images, and film. Two meetings per week.

Spring Semester. Professor López.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

264 Introduction to Latin America: Conquest, Colonization and Rebellion

(Offered as HIST 264 [LA/TC/TE/TR/P] and LLAS 264)  Over the course of three centuries, massive migrations from Europe and Africa and the dramatic decline of indigenous populations in South and Central America radically transformed the cultural, political, economic, and material landscape of what we today know as Latin America. This course will investigate the dynamism of Latin American societies beginning in the ancient or pre-conquest period and ending with the collapse of European rule in most Spanish, Portuguese, and French speaking territories in the New World. We will explore this history through the eyes of various historical actors, including politicians, explorers, noble men and women, indigenous intellectuals, and African slaves. In addition to interrogating the myriad of peaceable and creative cross-cultural exchanges and interactions that characterized the relationship between these groups, we will also explore how conflict, exploitation, and natural disaster shaped the Colonial Latin American experience. Through a mixture of lecture, small and large group activities, and analysis of primary and secondary sources we will also consider how historians understand the past as well as the foundational debates which shape our current interpretations of colonial Latin American history. Two class meetings per week.

Fall semester. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

301 Literature and Culture of the Hispanic World

(Offered as SPAN 301 and LLAS 301) This course provides an introduction to the diverse literatures and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world over the course of six centuries, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. Students will learn the tools, language, and critical vocabulary for advanced work reading the canon of Hispanic literatures from Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean Basin, identifying aesthetic trends, historical periods and diverse genres such as poetry, narrative, theater and film. The syllabus will include a wide variety of authors of different national, political, and artistic persuasions and an array of linguistic styles. This course prepares students for advanced work in Spanish and for study abroad.

Requisite SPAN 202 or Spanish Placement Exam. Proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Spanish are required. Limited to 20 students per section. Fall semester: Visiting Professor Porter.  Spring semester: Professor Brenneis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

341 Mexican Rebels 

(Offered as LLAS 341 and HIST 341 [LA/TE/TR/TS]) What inspires individuals to risk everything to try to change their world? Students will attempt to answer this question through cases ranging from personal acts of rebellion, to social movements and armed conflict. The course pays close attention to personal acts of rebellion against repressive racial, political, and gender structures, focusing on such figures as Hernán Córtes’s legendary consort La Malinche (Malintzin Tenepal), the seventeenth-century protofeminist Sor Juana Inéz de la Cruz, the transgender revolutionary general Amelia/o Robles Ávila, and the artists Gerardo Murillo, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. We also will address armed conflicts such as the Tlaxcalan war against the Aztec Empire, the Wars of Independence (1810-1821), the Maya uprising against white domination in the second half of the nineteenth century, guerrilla resistance against US and French invasions in the 1840s and 1860s, the War of Reform (1857-1860), the Cristero War (1926-1929), the Zapatista uprising of the 1990s, and, most importantly, the Mexican Revolution of (1910-1921). And we will examine social protests, such as the student movement that ended in the Tlatelolco Massacre of 1968, El Barzón, #YoSoy132, MORENA, APPO, the Ayotzinapa protests, and peasant ecology initiatives.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor R. Lopez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

342 Marxism and Revolution in Twentieth-Century Latin America

(Offered as HIST 342 [LA] and LLAS 342) With one significant exception, Latin America’s major revolutions have been led by groups espousing one of three main currents of Marxist thought: Marxism-Leninism (Stalinism), Trotskyism, and Maoism. In this course, the student will master the basics of those theories through the reading and analysis of their primary texts. We will then consider case studies of Marxist-inspired revolutions in Bolivia, Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, and Peru. With the aid of lectures and further readings, the student will critically evaluate, in a series of papers, how Marxist theories were applied in practice in twentieth-century Latin America. One class meeting per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2019

343 Comparative Borderlands: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Transnational Perspective

(Offered as SPAN 342, LLAS 343 and SWAG 343) “Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out,” Chicana feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldúa wrote in the hybrid text Borderlands/La Frontera. She was referring to, what she called, the linguistic imperialism of English in the US Southwest. And yet she also carved out a third space for those subjects at the crossroads of multiple ways of being – the queer and the abject. In this course, we will examine cultural and literary texts that speak to the ways that race, gender, and sexual identity are conditioned by the historical development of geopolitical borders. We will pay particular attention to the US-Mexico Borderlands but we will also examine other places in which “borderlands” of identity exist. Course conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

344 The Cuban Revolution, 1959–2009

(Offered as HIST 344 [LA] and LLAS 344) Sixty years after its triumph, the Cuban revolution continues to ignite controversy and to influence the politics of the Americas and beyond This course will provide an in-depth examination of the origins, course, development, and historical interpretations of the Cuban revolution over its first half-century. Its charismatic leader, Fidel Castro, will receive special attention, as will his closest collaborators: the honorary Cuban, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, and Fidel's younger brother, Raúl. Among many other topics to be explored are the revolution's turn to Marxism-Leninism and the Soviet bloc; its contentious relationship with the United States; the creation and construction of a Cuban socialism; Cuba's special relationship with Africa; and the perennial efforts of Cuban émigrés to overthrow the revolution. We will conclude by considering the revolution's prospects in a post-Soviet—and now post-Fidel—world.

Not offered 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

(Offered as HIST 345 [LA/TR/TS], LLAS 345, and SWAG 345) Popular mythologies of Latin America have historically relied on hyper-masculine archetypes, including the conquistador, the caudillo, and the guerrillero to explain the continent’s past, culture and political development. By contrast, students in this course will be asked to bring women, gender and sexuality from the margins to the center of Latin American history. In doing so, we will reevaluate four transformative historical moments: the Spanish conquest, the wars of independence, the emergence of industrial capitalism, and the proliferation of late twentieth-century political revolutions. Through an exploration of these key periods of upheaval we will assess how social conflict was frequently mediated through competing definitions of masculinity and femininity. In addition, this course will explore the ways in which women’s activism has been central to social and political movements across the continent. Furthermore, we will investigate how the domain of sexual practice and reproduction underpinned broader conflicts over racial purity, worker power, and the boundaries of citizenship in racially and ethnically diverse societies. The course will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered in 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

346 Indigenous Histories of Latin America

(Offered as HIST 346 [LA/TE/TR]  and LLAS 346) In this course, students will explore the cultures and civilizations of native peoples of Latin America from ancient times to the present.  Examining the Caribbean, Mesoamerican, Andean, and Amazonian regions, we will consider questions such as: What were the earliest cultures of the Americas like?  How did civilizations such as the Maya, the Aztecs, and the Inca confront the unprecedented challenges of the conquest?  How did indigenous peoples resist and forcibly adapt to centuries of Spanish and Portuguese colonialism?  What roles did native peoples  play in the new nations of the nineteenth century?  How have indigenous peoples pursued their own struggles for citizenship in the face of threats to their autonomy and the environment?  In a series of short writing assignments and a longer paper based on original research, students will explore secondary historiographies, analyze diverse primary sources, and discuss different historical methods in the study of the indigenous past and present. Two meetings per week.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

 
2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

357 Understanding Spanish Structure and Use

(Offered as SPAN 357 and LLAS 357) Spanish is the second-most widely spoken language in the world. With more than 400 million native speakers, it has official status in 21 countries. In the United States more than 40 million people use Spanish in their daily lives. What exactly is the Spanish language? What do you actually know when you speak Spanish? These questions are at the heart of this course. By following a bottom-up design—from smallest to largest segments of language—we will understand the basic characteristics of human language and will examine the architecture of the Spanish language: how its sounds are produced and how they combine; how its words are constructed from their component parts; how its sentences are formed; how its meanings are understood; and how its use reflects aspects of our socio-cultural behavior. As an approach to the formal study of the Spanish language, we will explore actual and diverse language data such as texts, speech samples, and songs to grasp complex linguistic phenomena. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: Spanish 202 or permission of instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Sánchez-Naranjo.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022

362 Childhood in African and Caribbean Literature

(Offered as ENGL 318, BLST 362 [A/CLA], and LLAS 362) The course will concentrate on Caribbean authors. It explores the process of self-definition in literary works from Africa and the Caribbean that are built around child protagonists. We will examine the authors’ various methods of ordering experience through the choice of literary form and narrative technique, as well as the child/author’s perception of his or her society. French texts will be read in translation.

Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Cobham-Sander.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2020

375 Amherst Latinx Lives

(Offered as AMST 375, LLAS 375, SOCI 375 and SPAN 375) Over the past four decades, the Latinx student population at Amherst has increased more than seven-fold, from about 30 students per class in the 1970s, to over 200 per class in the last several years. As a community, however, we know very little about the subjective experience of Latinxs who live, study, and work at Amherst College. In this course, we will read and discuss different genres of scholarship that focus on the Latinx experience—empirical research, fiction, memoirs, and films—before proceeding to a series of workshops on how to conduct oral history interviews. Students will then apply this theoretical and practical knowledge to an exploration of the experiences of Latinx students, alumni, faculty, and staff in our community. These interviews will form the basis of a collectively-edited documentary designed to encourage cross-cultural dialogues within and outside the Latinx community, and in the process, increase awareness of the diversity of Latinx lives on our campus. Students of all backgrounds are welcome, and knowledge of Spanish or Spanglish is useful but not required.

Admission with the consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-2022 Professors Schroeder Rodríguez and Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

451 Translation Roots of a US Literary Landscape

(Offered as SPAN 451 and LLAS 451) This course highlights literary connections between the United States and the Spanish-speaking world via translation. Through a study of texts from the late nineteenth century to the present, we will look at the role of translation in literary histories and current literary activities. We will examine how writers have translated in order to practice and enhance their creative writing. We will use translation as a way to access and analyze literary texts. We will also think about translation as professional and collaborative activities. We will study the work of José Martí (Cuba), Julia de Burgos (Puerto Rico), Silvina Ocampo (Argentina), Felipe Alfau (Catalonia-Spain), Salvador Dalí (Catalonia-Spain), Achy Obejas (Cuba), and Urayoán Noel (Puerto Rico), among others. In addition, we will explore ways of contributing with translational activities to our own literary landscape in the Amherst area by possibly collaborating with local institutions such as the Emily Dickinson Museum, the Eric Carle Museum, and the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or permission of the instructor.  Limited to 18 students. Fall Semester: Visiting Associate Professor Galasso.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

455 One Hundred Years of Solitude

(Offered as LLAS 455 and SPAN 455) A patient, detailed, Talmudic reading of Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpiece, Cien años de soledad, known as “the Bible of Latin America.” The course sets it in biographical, historical, and aesthetic context. Conducted in Spanish.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Stavans. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2018, Spring 2021

461 The Creole Imagination

(Offered as ENGL 491, BLST 461 [CLA], and LLAS 461) What would it mean to write in the language in which we dream? A language that we can hear, but cannot (yet) see? Is it possible to conceive a language outside the socio-symbolic order? And can one language subvert the codes and values of another? Questions like these have animated the creolité/nation language debate among Caribbean intellectuals since the mid-1970s, producing some of the most significant francophone and anglophone writing of the twentieth century. This course reads across philosophy, cultural theory, politics, and literature in order to consider the claims such works make for the Creole imagination. We will engage the theoretical and creative work of Édouard Glissant, Maryse Condé, Wilson Harris, Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, Patrick Chamoiseau, Jamaica Kincaid, and Edwidge Danticat. We also will consider how these writers transform some of the fundamental ideas of psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and critical historiography. At stake in our readings will be the various aesthetic and political aspects of postcolonial struggle–how to think outside the colonial architecture of language; how to contest and subvert what remains from history’s violence; and how to evaluate the claims to authenticity of creolized New World cultural forms.

Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Cobham-Sander.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2020

463 Research Seminar in the History of the Atlantic Slave Trade

(Offered as BLST 363 [CLA], HIST 463 [AF/TC/TE/TS/TR/P] and LLAS 463) In this course students will consult, analyze, and employ a variety of sources, including the accounts of missionaries, journals of slave traders, the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, and the few available slave narratives written by Africans. Students will be presented with the tools to write original research on topics including the involvement of Western African societies in the slave trade, the logistics of the Middle Passage, characteristics of the captives transported from Africa to the Americas, and the Africans' own experiences of the Middle Passage and adaptation to the slave régimes of the Americas. Students will write a series of short assignments leading up to a major research paper of 20-25 pages.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

485 Telenovelas

(Offered as SPAN 485 and LLAS 485) Arguably the most influential popular form of cultural expression in Latin America, a single episode of any prime-time telenovela is watched by more people than all the accumulated number of Spanish-language readers of One Hundred Years of Solitude over time. The course will explore the historical origin and development of telenovelas as well as various production techniques, the way scripts are shaped and actors are asked to perform, the role of music and other sounds, etc. Each country in the region has its own telenovela tradition. We will look at Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and the Spanish-language productions of Univisión and Telemundo in the United States, among others. But the main objective of the course will be to analyze the performative nature of emotions in telenovelas and also gender, class, and political tension on the small screen. And we will delve into the strategies various governments have used by means of telenovelas to control the population (“melodrama is the true opium of the masses,” said a prominent Mexican telenovela director), their use as educational devices, and the clash between telenovelas and fútbol in the region’s celebrity ecosystem. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Stavans.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499 Senior Honors

Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Related Courses

AMST-305 Gender, Migration and Power: Latinos in the Americas (Course not offered this year.)
ARHA-255 Latin American Art: Strategies and Tactics (Course not offered this year.)
BLST-201 Power and Resistance in the Black Atlantic (Course not offered this year.)
ENGL-491 The Creole Imagination (Course not offered this year.)
HIST-345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-248 Cuba: The Politics of Extremism (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-307 States of Extraction: Nature, Women, and World Politics (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-421 Indigenous World Politics (Course not offered this year.)
RELI-240 Religion on the Move: Religion and Migration in North America (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-330 Latin American Cinema (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-335 New Latin American Documentary (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-370 <em>Mare Nostrum</em>: The Caribbean as Idea and Invention (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-435 Puerto Rico: Diaspora Nation (Course not offered this year.)

Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid

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Latinx and Latin American Studies

Professors del Moral, R. López (Chair), Schmalzbauer*, and Schroeder Rodríguez; Associate Professor Lohse; Assistant Professors Barba, and Coranez Bolton*.

Affiliated Faculty: Professors Cobham-Sander‡, Corrales*, and Stavans; Associate Professors Arboleda, and Walker*; Assistant Professors Infante, Ravikumar*, Sanchez-Naranjo, and Vicario.

Latinx and Latin American Studies (LLAS) is an interdisciplinary major program designed for students interested in critically examining the diverse histories and cultures of Latin America, the Caribbean, and U.S. Latinxs. Students in the major gain breadth and depth of learning through courses in the humanities and the social sciences that situate these histories and cultures within local, national, regional, hemispheric, and global contexts over time, while practical experiences such as community projects and study abroad provide opportunities to apply this learning in transformative ways.

Major Program. Majoring in LLAS requires the completion of nine courses: seven courses as described below, plus two additional courses to be chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor.

  • one required course: LLAS 200: Major Debates in Latinx and Latin American Studies.
  • one course on U.S. Latinxs in any department.
  • one course on Latin America in any department.
  • one course on the Caribbean in any department.
  • two courses taught in one of the languages spoken in Latin America and the Caribbean, other than English. These courses may focus on the development of language skills, and/or they may be content courses on a subject relevant to the Major.
  • a research or methods seminar in any department, with completion of the written project on a topic relevant to LLAS. In order to ensure that the research will be on a topic relevant to LLAS, the research or methods seminar must be approved by both the Major advisor and the professor teaching the course.

LLAS majors may credit up to three courses from another major, provided they fall into one of the categories listed above. In addition, majors must have

  • a concentration with at least three courses in one of the following areas: U.S. Latinxs, Latin America, or the Caribbean.
  • at least two courses in the humanities and at least two in the social sciences.
  • coursework in at least three departments.
  • residency requirement: at least five of the nine courses must be taken at Amherst College.
  • Capstone Requirement: The capstone requirement will be met through a portfolio of work done in the Major, introduced by a reflective essay that addresses how the interdisciplinary nature of the coursework informs a question or topic of special interest to the student and his/her long-term plans. Students will publicly share these reflections during a LLAS Major Capstone Symposium.

Departmental Honors Program. Candidates for Latin Honors must complete a senior thesis. The work of the thesis may be creative or scholarly in nature. Interested candidates must apply and be accepted by the end of their third year, and must, in addition to the coursework described above, enroll in LLAS 498 and/or 499 during their senior year.

*On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-2021. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22. 
 
 

130 Latinx Religion

(Offered as RELI 130and LLAS 130) On the dawn of the quincentenary of the Protestant Reformation, the April 2013 cover story of Time Magazine heralded the “Latino Reformation.” After 500 years of religious contact, conflict, and conversions throughout the Americas, “Latino USA” is undergoing unprecedented religious transformations. Latinxs, now comprising the largest ethnic minority group in the United States, are largely responsible for the new expressions of Abrahamic religious traditions in the country. This course is a historical survey of the growing and diverse U.S. Latinx religious experiences. The chronology of the course will begin with pre-contact Indian religions and cultures, then follow with an examination of Iberian Catholic and Indian contact cultures, Catholic and Protestant migrations into the U.S., and the negotiation and representation of Latinx religious identities today.

Spring semester. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2022

135 Race and Religion in the U.S. West/Mexico Borderlands

(Offered as REL 135, AMST 231, HIST 135 and LLAS 135) One historian aptly described the U.S. West as “one of the greatest meeting places on the planet." The region is a site of cultural complexity where New Mexican Penitentes maintained a criminalized sacred order, an African American holiness preacher forged the global Pentecostal movement, Native Americans staked out legal definitions and practices of "religion," Asian immigrants built their first Buddhist and Sikh temples in the face of persecution, and dispossessed Dust Bowl migrants (in the spirit of the Joad family in John Steinbeck’s novel the Grapes of Wrath) arrived and imported no-nonsense southern Baptist and Pentecostal sensibilities. Until recently, standard surveys of religious history in North America have devoted minimal attention to the distinctive role of religion in the American West and the region's shifting border, having largely focused rather on religious history in the flow of events westward from Massachusetts’s Puritan establishment. In this historical survey, we examine the contours of religion by taking into account new "sights," "cites," and "sites" of race, class, and gender in order to deconstruct and reconstruct the larger incomplete meta-narrative. First-year students are especially welcome. No prerequisites are necessary. 

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22.  Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

140 Immigration and White Supremacy

(Offered as AMST 140 and LJST 140) While discussions of white supremacy are more common now than even a few years ago, the image of the United States as a nation of immigrants remains popular. How can we connect these two notions, that on the one hand the country was founded on and practices a settler colonialism and racial capitalism that privileges whites, with that on the other hand many immigrants of color are working towards their American Dream? Through sociological and historical texts, the course will interrogate what is behind immigration to the United States, including the nation’s imperial and neocolonial interventions abroad that have created the foundation for much displacement. The course also delves into how immigrants navigate racial hierarchies – sometimes successfully and sometimes not – across a variety of spaces, including education, the workplace, cultural discourse, and more. Attention will be given to various groups, including Asian Americans, Latinxs, and others. Students will have research and writing assessments.

Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professors del Moral and Dhingra.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

144 Contemporary Dance Technique: Salsa Performance and Culture

(Offered as THDA 144H and LLAS 144H) This class introduces students to beginner-level salsa technique. We will explore the New York Mambo style of salsa, the Caracas street style, as well as elements of the Cuban Casino style. Students will master variations of the salsa basic step, turns, connecting steps, and arm work. Although we will mostly focus on solo practice, we will learn some essential concepts of partnering work based on the principles of leading and following. Toward the end of the semester, students will be able to use the acquired salsa vocabulary as the basis for improvising and choreographing combinations.

Through the study of salsa’s history, political dimensions, lyrical content, and matrilineal legacy, students will develop an understanding of this artistic expression not only as a dance form or musical genre, but also as a unifying voice of resistance and liberation for Caribbean and Latino cultures. Students will be able to recognize the voices of some of the most iconic Salsa artists and appreciate the contributions of some of the most important female Cuban and Cuban-American performers. We will investigate the legacy of Celia Cruz, paying close attention to the design and performance elements that defined her as The Queen of Salsa. Class discussions and brief writing assignments will serve as opportunities to reflect upon readings, documentaries and other information that will expand our understanding of the form.

Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

186 Pre-Columbian Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 186 and LLAS 186) This course provides an introduction to the Pre-Columbian art and architecture of the Americas. It explores major traditions in architecture and city planning, murals, sculpture, painting, masks, and textiles. The first half of the semester concentrates on Preclassic and Classic Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America); the second on Postclassic Mesoamerica, North America, and the Andes.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Couch.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

200 Major Debates in Latinx and Latin American Studies

(Offered as LLAS 200 and AMST 206) In this course students will become familiar with the major debates that have animated Latinx and Latin American Studies, addressing a wide range of issues from the Conquest to the present. Each week students will focus on specific questions such as: Does Latin America have a common culture? Is Latin America part of the Western world? Is Latinx a race or an ethnicity? Is U.S. Latinx identity rooted in Latin America or the United States? Are Latin American nations post-colonial? Was the modern concept of race invented in the Caribbean at the time of the Conquest? The opposing viewpoints around such questions will provide the main focus of the reading assignments, which will average two or three articles per week. In the first four weeks, students will learn a methodology for analyzing, contextualizing, and making arguments that they will apply in developing their own positions in the specific controversies that will make up the rest of the course.

Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Schroeder Rodriguez. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

201 Power and Resistance in the Black Atlantic

(Offered as BLST 201 [D] HIST 267 [AF/LA/TEp/TR] and LLAS 201) The formation of "the Black Atlantic" or "the African Diaspora" began with the earliest moments of European explorations of the West African coast in the fifteenth century and ended with the abolition of Brazilian slavery in 1888. This momentous historical event irrevocably reshaped the modern world. This course will trace the history of this transformation at two levels; first, we examine large scale historical processes including the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the development of plantation economies, and the birth of liberal democracy. With these sweeping stories as our backdrop, we will also explore the lives of individual Africans and African-Americans, the communities they built, and the cultures they created. We will consider the diversity of the Black Atlantic by examining the lives of a broad array of individuals, including black intellectuals, statesmen, soldiers, religious leaders, healers and rebels. Furthermore, we will pay special attention to trans-Atlantic historical formations common during this period, especially the contributions of Africans and their descendants to Atlantic cultures, societies, and ideas, ultimately understanding enslaved people as creative (rather than reactive) agents of history. So, our questions will be: What is the Black Atlantic? How can we understand both the commonalities and diversity of the experiences of Africans in the Diaspora? What kinds of communities, affinities, and identities did Africans create after being uprooted by the slave trade? What methods do scholars use to understand this history? And finally, what is the modern legacy of the Black Atlantic? Class time will be divided between lecture, small and large group discussion.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hicks.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

204 Housing, Urbanization, and Development

(Offered as ARCH 204, ARHA 204, and LLAS 204) This course studies the theory, policy, and practice of low-income housing in marginalized communities worldwide. We study central concepts in housing theory, key issues regarding low-income housing, different approaches to address these issues, and political debates around housing the poor. We use a comparative focus, going back and forth between the cases of the United States and the so-called developing world. By doing this, we engage in a “theory from without” exercise: We attempt to understand the housing problem in the United States from the perspective of the developing world, and vice versa. We study our subject through illustrated lectures, seminar discussions, documentary films, visual analysis exercises, and a field trip.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

205 Finding Your Bilingual Voice

(Offered as SPAN 205 and LLAS 205) Heritage learners of Spanish are students who have grown up speaking, listening, reading and/or writing Spanish with family or in their community. Because of their unique backgrounds, Spanish heritage language learners (SHLLs) are bilingual and bicultural. They function between a Hispanic and an American identity. This fluid and multiple identity can bring challenges, as SHLLs try to fit into both groups. With this in mind, through meaningful activities that focus on students’ experiences and emotions, this Spanish language course will center on bilingualism, specifically through writing, as a necessary means for identity formation. Because in narrating our stories with others, we enact our identities, this course will connect students with the bilingual community in Amherst or Holyoke. Through this course, students will incorporate their personal experience as SHLLs into their coursework. Activities will foster critical thinking, and students will learn to analyze, read, discuss, write, and reflect on issues of language, culture, and identity. Using a student-centered approach, the course will include collaborative brainstorming, free-writing, developing topics of personal importance, and peer and group editing in order to develop students’ writing proficiency and to build community.

This course prepares Spanish heritage language students for advanced-level courses offered by the Spanish Department. Limited to 18 students per section. This course may be counted toward the Spanish Major. The class will be conducted entirely in Spanish, though some assignments can be submitted in English. Prerequisite: SPAN 201, SPAN 202 or placement exam.

Consent Required (students must identify as Spanish heritage language students). Spring Semester. Senior Lecturer Granda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

225 Latin American Literature in Translation

A joyful introduction to modern Latin American literary classics in translation through the works of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, Julio Cortazar, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Roberto Bolano, Clarise Lispector, and others. The discussion-driven classes will focus on aesthetic movements like Magical Realism as well as on the development of national identity, mestizaje, civil unrest, racial and gender relations, humor, translation, and the opposition between Europeanized and indigenous worldviews. Students will delve into canonical poems, stories, essays, and short novels from the seventeenth century to the present that have reshaped the international scene. Language: English. 

Limited to 40 students. January term. Professor Stavans. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in January 2022, Spring 2022

226 Theorizing the Black Queer Americas

(Offered as BLST 226[D], LLAS 226 and SWAG 226) This course focuses on Black Queer and Trans life and struggle as well as the cultural and intellectual contributions Black Queer and Trans have made to in numerous fields throughout the Americas (North and South). While for many years narratives of the lives of Black LGBTQ people have been silenced and erased due to stigma and intersectional oppression on the basis of race, gender, and sexuality, scholars and artists in the past four decades have worked to recover the stories of Black Queer and Trans communities throughout the diaspora. The Black Queer/Trans Americas will dive into works that highlight these cultural contributions, while also understanding the compounded systemic violence that Black LGBTQ communities have faced and continue to face. By the end of this course students will have a strong understanding of how systems of power work to restrict the freedoms of Black Queer and Trans communities, and how Black LGBTQ people have lived, organized, and created in spite of and in response to these oppressions. This interdisciplinary undergraduate upper level course will utilize academic texts accompanied by poetry, fiction, film, television, and visual art to understand Black Queer and Trans subjectivities. In addition to course materials, the class will also make use of presentations from local artists, activists, and community members in the local area to add to the course experience. Every week will focus on a different theme or field of study related to Black LGBTQ+ life. 

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Poe.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

234 The Sanctuary Movement: Religion, Activism, and Social Contestation

(Offered as REL 234, AMST 234 and LLAS 234) From sanctuary cities and states to sanctuary campuses and churches, declarations of sanctuary sites have swept the nation in recent years. The U.S. Sanctuary Movement, established in 1982 to harbor Central American asylum seekers fleeing civil wars, has today assumed broader social implementations in the New Sanctuary Movement. Beginning with an examination of antecedents to the U.S. Sanctuary Movement in global contexts, this course will offer students an in-depth study of the Sanctuary Movement since the 1980s with special attention to the New Sanctuary Movement which is active today throughout the country.  

No prerequisites necessary. Limited to 20 students. 

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021

240 Religion on the Move: Religion and Migration in North America

(Offered as RELI 240 and LLAS 240) Little Syria in Manhattan, Crypto-Jewish homes in New Mexico, colonias Mormonas in northern Mexico, a Gurdwara deep in the crop-combed fields of California, and Detroit’s New Bethel Baptist Church (the vocal antechamber of Aretha Franklin’s #1 hit you might know as “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”) seem to have little in common. However, a historical examination of such sites reveals that they share basic social building blocks, shaped under similar push and pull factors. This course is concerned with the ways in which migrant groups have altered the religious landscape of North America and how they innovatively reproduce practices from their places of origin. Our main focus will be on the ramifications of religious movement within the U.S.; however, we will also explore migrations that have shaped the continent. Crossing into the U.S. from the eastern seaboard, the Pacific Rim, and the southern border with Mexico, migrants bring their new ways of creating sacred space and negotiating religious life. We will seek to understand the multifaceted relationships between religion and migration. How have migrants negotiated the role of religion in their private and public lives? What have been the social consequences pertaining to gender, praxis, politics, and respectability? The course takes into account migrations prior to the twentieth century in order to understand regional cultures within the U.S. Additionally, case studies in this course will draw heavily from the third wave of American immigration, characterized by twentieth-century “internal migrations” of African Americans, Latinas/os, Native Americans, and rural dwellers into the urban environments. We will conclude by examining the ways in which forces of modern globalization have changed the nature of religious diversity in the U.S. We will extensively compare migrant cultures as we interrogate power and privilege pertaining to race and religion. The cultural production of these migrant groups under study will bring to the class an empathetic understanding of diverse cultures and their forms of belonging.

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020

248 Cuba: The Politics of Extremism

(Offered as POSC 248 and LLAS 248) The study of Cuba’s politics presents opportunities to address issues of universal concern to social scientists and humanists in general, not just Latin Americanists. When is it rational to be radical? Why has Cuban politics forced so many individuals to adopt extreme positions? What are the causes of radical revolutions? Is pre-revolutionary Cuba a case of too little development, uneven development or too rapid development? What is the role of leaders: Do they make history, are they the product of history, or are they the makers of unintended histories? Was the revolution inevitable? Was it necessary? How are new (radical) states constructed? What is the role of foreign actors, existing political institutions, ethnicity, nationalism, religion and sexuality in this process? How does a small nation manage to become influential in world affairs, even altering the behavior of superpowers? What are the conditions that account for the survival of authoritarianism? To what extent is the revolution capable of self-reform? Is the current intention of state leaders of pursuing closed politics with open economics viable? What are the most effective mechanisms to change the regime? Why does the embargo survive? Why did Cubans (at home and abroad) care about Elián González? Although the readings will be mostly from social scientists, the course also includes selections from primary sources, literary works and films (of Cuban and non-Cuban origin). As with almost everything in politics, there are more than just two sides to the issue of Cuba. One aim of the course is to expose the students to as many different sides as possible.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Corrales.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Fall 2019

261 History of Central America

(Offered as HIST 261 [LA/TC/TE/TR/TS] and LLAS 261) In this course, students will gain an understanding of major events and themes in the histories of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. As important, they will think and write critically about the contentious history of the region. For good reason, Central America is often considered as a whole, but despite many commonalities, each country's history is unique. How did the indigenous cultures of northern Central America compare to those of the south? Why did the once-united Federation of Central America fracture into five different states? How did Honduras become the quintessential "banana republic"? Why did Guatemala suffer decades of military dictatorships, while Costa Rica abolished its military at the same time? Through lectures and readings, we will answer these questions as we address topics including precolonial indigenous cultures; the conquest, slavery, and encomienda; independence and the struggles of nation-building; foreign interventions; and reforms, revolutions, and counterrevolutions. Two class meetings per week.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

262 Latin America and the United States

(Offered as HIST 262 [LA/TE] and LLAS 262) In this course, students will gain an understanding of major events and themes in the history of United States foreign policy toward Latin America from colonial times to the present.  As important, they will think and write critically about the contentious history of U.S.-Latin American relations.  Just a few of the many topics to be addressed are the Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. invasion of Mexico, the construction of the Panama Canal, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and the Iran-Contra Scandal.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020

263 Struggles for Democracy in Modern Latin America, 1820 to the Present

(Offered as HIST 263 [LA/TE/TR/TS] and LLAS 263) Latin Americans began their struggle for democracy during the independence wars at the start of the nineteenth century. Their struggle continues today. This course considers the historical meanings of democracy in various Latin American countries, with particular attention to the relationship between liberalism and democracy in the nineteenth century; the broadening of democracy at the start of the twentieth century; the rise and fall of military dictatorships in the 1960s–1980s and their impact upon civil society; and the current clashes between neo-liberal economic programs and the neo-populist resurgence of the left. Readings and discussions will focus on the ways broad economic and political shifts impacted individuals' lives; how each economic class experienced these shifts differently; the way race and gender have shaped peoples' experience with democratization and repression; and the personal processes of radicalization by which individuals became inspired to take risks in their struggle for inclusion and against repression. Because the approach is thematic and chronological, some countries and regions will receive more attention than others. Meetings and readings will draw on secondary studies, historical documents, testimonials, music, images, and film. Two meetings per week.

Spring Semester. Professor López.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

264 Introduction to Latin America: Conquest, Colonization and Rebellion

(Offered as HIST 264 [LA/TC/TE/TR/P] and LLAS 264)  Over the course of three centuries, massive migrations from Europe and Africa and the dramatic decline of indigenous populations in South and Central America radically transformed the cultural, political, economic, and material landscape of what we today know as Latin America. This course will investigate the dynamism of Latin American societies beginning in the ancient or pre-conquest period and ending with the collapse of European rule in most Spanish, Portuguese, and French speaking territories in the New World. We will explore this history through the eyes of various historical actors, including politicians, explorers, noble men and women, indigenous intellectuals, and African slaves. In addition to interrogating the myriad of peaceable and creative cross-cultural exchanges and interactions that characterized the relationship between these groups, we will also explore how conflict, exploitation, and natural disaster shaped the Colonial Latin American experience. Through a mixture of lecture, small and large group activities, and analysis of primary and secondary sources we will also consider how historians understand the past as well as the foundational debates which shape our current interpretations of colonial Latin American history. Two class meetings per week.

Fall semester. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

301 Literature and Culture of the Hispanic World

(Offered as SPAN 301 and LLAS 301) This course provides an introduction to the diverse literatures and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world over the course of six centuries, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. Students will learn the tools, language, and critical vocabulary for advanced work reading the canon of Hispanic literatures from Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean Basin, identifying aesthetic trends, historical periods and diverse genres such as poetry, narrative, theater and film. The syllabus will include a wide variety of authors of different national, political, and artistic persuasions and an array of linguistic styles. This course prepares students for advanced work in Spanish and for study abroad.

Requisite SPAN 202 or Spanish Placement Exam. Proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Spanish are required. Limited to 20 students per section. Fall semester: Visiting Professor Porter.  Spring semester: Professor Brenneis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

341 Mexican Rebels 

(Offered as LLAS 341 and HIST 341 [LA/TE/TR/TS]) What inspires individuals to risk everything to try to change their world? Students will attempt to answer this question through cases ranging from personal acts of rebellion, to social movements and armed conflict. The course pays close attention to personal acts of rebellion against repressive racial, political, and gender structures, focusing on such figures as Hernán Córtes’s legendary consort La Malinche (Malintzin Tenepal), the seventeenth-century protofeminist Sor Juana Inéz de la Cruz, the transgender revolutionary general Amelia/o Robles Ávila, and the artists Gerardo Murillo, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. We also will address armed conflicts such as the Tlaxcalan war against the Aztec Empire, the Wars of Independence (1810-1821), the Maya uprising against white domination in the second half of the nineteenth century, guerrilla resistance against US and French invasions in the 1840s and 1860s, the War of Reform (1857-1860), the Cristero War (1926-1929), the Zapatista uprising of the 1990s, and, most importantly, the Mexican Revolution of (1910-1921). And we will examine social protests, such as the student movement that ended in the Tlatelolco Massacre of 1968, El Barzón, #YoSoy132, MORENA, APPO, the Ayotzinapa protests, and peasant ecology initiatives.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor R. Lopez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

342 Marxism and Revolution in Twentieth-Century Latin America

(Offered as HIST 342 [LA] and LLAS 342) With one significant exception, Latin America’s major revolutions have been led by groups espousing one of three main currents of Marxist thought: Marxism-Leninism (Stalinism), Trotskyism, and Maoism. In this course, the student will master the basics of those theories through the reading and analysis of their primary texts. We will then consider case studies of Marxist-inspired revolutions in Bolivia, Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, and Peru. With the aid of lectures and further readings, the student will critically evaluate, in a series of papers, how Marxist theories were applied in practice in twentieth-century Latin America. One class meeting per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2019

343 Comparative Borderlands: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Transnational Perspective

(Offered as SPAN 342, LLAS 343 and SWAG 343) “Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out,” Chicana feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldúa wrote in the hybrid text Borderlands/La Frontera. She was referring to, what she called, the linguistic imperialism of English in the US Southwest. And yet she also carved out a third space for those subjects at the crossroads of multiple ways of being – the queer and the abject. In this course, we will examine cultural and literary texts that speak to the ways that race, gender, and sexual identity are conditioned by the historical development of geopolitical borders. We will pay particular attention to the US-Mexico Borderlands but we will also examine other places in which “borderlands” of identity exist. Course conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

344 The Cuban Revolution, 1959–2009

(Offered as HIST 344 [LA] and LLAS 344) Sixty years after its triumph, the Cuban revolution continues to ignite controversy and to influence the politics of the Americas and beyond This course will provide an in-depth examination of the origins, course, development, and historical interpretations of the Cuban revolution over its first half-century. Its charismatic leader, Fidel Castro, will receive special attention, as will his closest collaborators: the honorary Cuban, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, and Fidel's younger brother, Raúl. Among many other topics to be explored are the revolution's turn to Marxism-Leninism and the Soviet bloc; its contentious relationship with the United States; the creation and construction of a Cuban socialism; Cuba's special relationship with Africa; and the perennial efforts of Cuban émigrés to overthrow the revolution. We will conclude by considering the revolution's prospects in a post-Soviet—and now post-Fidel—world.

Not offered 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

(Offered as HIST 345 [LA/TR/TS], LLAS 345, and SWAG 345) Popular mythologies of Latin America have historically relied on hyper-masculine archetypes, including the conquistador, the caudillo, and the guerrillero to explain the continent’s past, culture and political development. By contrast, students in this course will be asked to bring women, gender and sexuality from the margins to the center of Latin American history. In doing so, we will reevaluate four transformative historical moments: the Spanish conquest, the wars of independence, the emergence of industrial capitalism, and the proliferation of late twentieth-century political revolutions. Through an exploration of these key periods of upheaval we will assess how social conflict was frequently mediated through competing definitions of masculinity and femininity. In addition, this course will explore the ways in which women’s activism has been central to social and political movements across the continent. Furthermore, we will investigate how the domain of sexual practice and reproduction underpinned broader conflicts over racial purity, worker power, and the boundaries of citizenship in racially and ethnically diverse societies. The course will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered in 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

346 Indigenous Histories of Latin America

(Offered as HIST 346 [LA/TE/TR]  and LLAS 346) In this course, students will explore the cultures and civilizations of native peoples of Latin America from ancient times to the present.  Examining the Caribbean, Mesoamerican, Andean, and Amazonian regions, we will consider questions such as: What were the earliest cultures of the Americas like?  How did civilizations such as the Maya, the Aztecs, and the Inca confront the unprecedented challenges of the conquest?  How did indigenous peoples resist and forcibly adapt to centuries of Spanish and Portuguese colonialism?  What roles did native peoples  play in the new nations of the nineteenth century?  How have indigenous peoples pursued their own struggles for citizenship in the face of threats to their autonomy and the environment?  In a series of short writing assignments and a longer paper based on original research, students will explore secondary historiographies, analyze diverse primary sources, and discuss different historical methods in the study of the indigenous past and present. Two meetings per week.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

 
2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

357 Understanding Spanish Structure and Use

(Offered as SPAN 357 and LLAS 357) Spanish is the second-most widely spoken language in the world. With more than 400 million native speakers, it has official status in 21 countries. In the United States more than 40 million people use Spanish in their daily lives. What exactly is the Spanish language? What do you actually know when you speak Spanish? These questions are at the heart of this course. By following a bottom-up design—from smallest to largest segments of language—we will understand the basic characteristics of human language and will examine the architecture of the Spanish language: how its sounds are produced and how they combine; how its words are constructed from their component parts; how its sentences are formed; how its meanings are understood; and how its use reflects aspects of our socio-cultural behavior. As an approach to the formal study of the Spanish language, we will explore actual and diverse language data such as texts, speech samples, and songs to grasp complex linguistic phenomena. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: Spanish 202 or permission of instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Sánchez-Naranjo.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022

362 Childhood in African and Caribbean Literature

(Offered as ENGL 318, BLST 362 [A/CLA], and LLAS 362) The course will concentrate on Caribbean authors. It explores the process of self-definition in literary works from Africa and the Caribbean that are built around child protagonists. We will examine the authors’ various methods of ordering experience through the choice of literary form and narrative technique, as well as the child/author’s perception of his or her society. French texts will be read in translation.

Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Cobham-Sander.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2020

375 Amherst Latinx Lives

(Offered as AMST 375, LLAS 375, SOCI 375 and SPAN 375) Over the past four decades, the Latinx student population at Amherst has increased more than seven-fold, from about 30 students per class in the 1970s, to over 200 per class in the last several years. As a community, however, we know very little about the subjective experience of Latinxs who live, study, and work at Amherst College. In this course, we will read and discuss different genres of scholarship that focus on the Latinx experience—empirical research, fiction, memoirs, and films—before proceeding to a series of workshops on how to conduct oral history interviews. Students will then apply this theoretical and practical knowledge to an exploration of the experiences of Latinx students, alumni, faculty, and staff in our community. These interviews will form the basis of a collectively-edited documentary designed to encourage cross-cultural dialogues within and outside the Latinx community, and in the process, increase awareness of the diversity of Latinx lives on our campus. Students of all backgrounds are welcome, and knowledge of Spanish or Spanglish is useful but not required.

Admission with the consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-2022 Professors Schroeder Rodríguez and Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

451 Translation Roots of a US Literary Landscape

(Offered as SPAN 451 and LLAS 451) This course highlights literary connections between the United States and the Spanish-speaking world via translation. Through a study of texts from the late nineteenth century to the present, we will look at the role of translation in literary histories and current literary activities. We will examine how writers have translated in order to practice and enhance their creative writing. We will use translation as a way to access and analyze literary texts. We will also think about translation as professional and collaborative activities. We will study the work of José Martí (Cuba), Julia de Burgos (Puerto Rico), Silvina Ocampo (Argentina), Felipe Alfau (Catalonia-Spain), Salvador Dalí (Catalonia-Spain), Achy Obejas (Cuba), and Urayoán Noel (Puerto Rico), among others. In addition, we will explore ways of contributing with translational activities to our own literary landscape in the Amherst area by possibly collaborating with local institutions such as the Emily Dickinson Museum, the Eric Carle Museum, and the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or permission of the instructor.  Limited to 18 students. Fall Semester: Visiting Associate Professor Galasso.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

455 One Hundred Years of Solitude

(Offered as LLAS 455 and SPAN 455) A patient, detailed, Talmudic reading of Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpiece, Cien años de soledad, known as “the Bible of Latin America.” The course sets it in biographical, historical, and aesthetic context. Conducted in Spanish.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Stavans. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2018, Spring 2021

461 The Creole Imagination

(Offered as ENGL 491, BLST 461 [CLA], and LLAS 461) What would it mean to write in the language in which we dream? A language that we can hear, but cannot (yet) see? Is it possible to conceive a language outside the socio-symbolic order? And can one language subvert the codes and values of another? Questions like these have animated the creolité/nation language debate among Caribbean intellectuals since the mid-1970s, producing some of the most significant francophone and anglophone writing of the twentieth century. This course reads across philosophy, cultural theory, politics, and literature in order to consider the claims such works make for the Creole imagination. We will engage the theoretical and creative work of Édouard Glissant, Maryse Condé, Wilson Harris, Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, Patrick Chamoiseau, Jamaica Kincaid, and Edwidge Danticat. We also will consider how these writers transform some of the fundamental ideas of psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and critical historiography. At stake in our readings will be the various aesthetic and political aspects of postcolonial struggle–how to think outside the colonial architecture of language; how to contest and subvert what remains from history’s violence; and how to evaluate the claims to authenticity of creolized New World cultural forms.

Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Cobham-Sander.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2020

463 Research Seminar in the History of the Atlantic Slave Trade

(Offered as BLST 363 [CLA], HIST 463 [AF/TC/TE/TS/TR/P] and LLAS 463) In this course students will consult, analyze, and employ a variety of sources, including the accounts of missionaries, journals of slave traders, the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, and the few available slave narratives written by Africans. Students will be presented with the tools to write original research on topics including the involvement of Western African societies in the slave trade, the logistics of the Middle Passage, characteristics of the captives transported from Africa to the Americas, and the Africans' own experiences of the Middle Passage and adaptation to the slave régimes of the Americas. Students will write a series of short assignments leading up to a major research paper of 20-25 pages.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

485 Telenovelas

(Offered as SPAN 485 and LLAS 485) Arguably the most influential popular form of cultural expression in Latin America, a single episode of any prime-time telenovela is watched by more people than all the accumulated number of Spanish-language readers of One Hundred Years of Solitude over time. The course will explore the historical origin and development of telenovelas as well as various production techniques, the way scripts are shaped and actors are asked to perform, the role of music and other sounds, etc. Each country in the region has its own telenovela tradition. We will look at Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and the Spanish-language productions of Univisión and Telemundo in the United States, among others. But the main objective of the course will be to analyze the performative nature of emotions in telenovelas and also gender, class, and political tension on the small screen. And we will delve into the strategies various governments have used by means of telenovelas to control the population (“melodrama is the true opium of the masses,” said a prominent Mexican telenovela director), their use as educational devices, and the clash between telenovelas and fútbol in the region’s celebrity ecosystem. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Stavans.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499 Senior Honors

Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Related Courses

AMST-305 Gender, Migration and Power: Latinos in the Americas (Course not offered this year.)
ARHA-255 Latin American Art: Strategies and Tactics (Course not offered this year.)
BLST-201 Power and Resistance in the Black Atlantic (Course not offered this year.)
ENGL-491 The Creole Imagination (Course not offered this year.)
HIST-345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-248 Cuba: The Politics of Extremism (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-307 States of Extraction: Nature, Women, and World Politics (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-421 Indigenous World Politics (Course not offered this year.)
RELI-240 Religion on the Move: Religion and Migration in North America (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-330 Latin American Cinema (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-335 New Latin American Documentary (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-370 <em>Mare Nostrum</em>: The Caribbean as Idea and Invention (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-435 Puerto Rico: Diaspora Nation (Course not offered this year.)

Regulations & Requirements

Regulations & Requirements

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Latinx and Latin American Studies

Professors del Moral, R. López (Chair), Schmalzbauer*, and Schroeder Rodríguez; Associate Professor Lohse; Assistant Professors Barba, and Coranez Bolton*.

Affiliated Faculty: Professors Cobham-Sander‡, Corrales*, and Stavans; Associate Professors Arboleda, and Walker*; Assistant Professors Infante, Ravikumar*, Sanchez-Naranjo, and Vicario.

Latinx and Latin American Studies (LLAS) is an interdisciplinary major program designed for students interested in critically examining the diverse histories and cultures of Latin America, the Caribbean, and U.S. Latinxs. Students in the major gain breadth and depth of learning through courses in the humanities and the social sciences that situate these histories and cultures within local, national, regional, hemispheric, and global contexts over time, while practical experiences such as community projects and study abroad provide opportunities to apply this learning in transformative ways.

Major Program. Majoring in LLAS requires the completion of nine courses: seven courses as described below, plus two additional courses to be chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor.

  • one required course: LLAS 200: Major Debates in Latinx and Latin American Studies.
  • one course on U.S. Latinxs in any department.
  • one course on Latin America in any department.
  • one course on the Caribbean in any department.
  • two courses taught in one of the languages spoken in Latin America and the Caribbean, other than English. These courses may focus on the development of language skills, and/or they may be content courses on a subject relevant to the Major.
  • a research or methods seminar in any department, with completion of the written project on a topic relevant to LLAS. In order to ensure that the research will be on a topic relevant to LLAS, the research or methods seminar must be approved by both the Major advisor and the professor teaching the course.

LLAS majors may credit up to three courses from another major, provided they fall into one of the categories listed above. In addition, majors must have

  • a concentration with at least three courses in one of the following areas: U.S. Latinxs, Latin America, or the Caribbean.
  • at least two courses in the humanities and at least two in the social sciences.
  • coursework in at least three departments.
  • residency requirement: at least five of the nine courses must be taken at Amherst College.
  • Capstone Requirement: The capstone requirement will be met through a portfolio of work done in the Major, introduced by a reflective essay that addresses how the interdisciplinary nature of the coursework informs a question or topic of special interest to the student and his/her long-term plans. Students will publicly share these reflections during a LLAS Major Capstone Symposium.

Departmental Honors Program. Candidates for Latin Honors must complete a senior thesis. The work of the thesis may be creative or scholarly in nature. Interested candidates must apply and be accepted by the end of their third year, and must, in addition to the coursework described above, enroll in LLAS 498 and/or 499 during their senior year.

*On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-2021. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22. 
 
 

130 Latinx Religion

(Offered as RELI 130and LLAS 130) On the dawn of the quincentenary of the Protestant Reformation, the April 2013 cover story of Time Magazine heralded the “Latino Reformation.” After 500 years of religious contact, conflict, and conversions throughout the Americas, “Latino USA” is undergoing unprecedented religious transformations. Latinxs, now comprising the largest ethnic minority group in the United States, are largely responsible for the new expressions of Abrahamic religious traditions in the country. This course is a historical survey of the growing and diverse U.S. Latinx religious experiences. The chronology of the course will begin with pre-contact Indian religions and cultures, then follow with an examination of Iberian Catholic and Indian contact cultures, Catholic and Protestant migrations into the U.S., and the negotiation and representation of Latinx religious identities today.

Spring semester. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2022

135 Race and Religion in the U.S. West/Mexico Borderlands

(Offered as REL 135, AMST 231, HIST 135 and LLAS 135) One historian aptly described the U.S. West as “one of the greatest meeting places on the planet." The region is a site of cultural complexity where New Mexican Penitentes maintained a criminalized sacred order, an African American holiness preacher forged the global Pentecostal movement, Native Americans staked out legal definitions and practices of "religion," Asian immigrants built their first Buddhist and Sikh temples in the face of persecution, and dispossessed Dust Bowl migrants (in the spirit of the Joad family in John Steinbeck’s novel the Grapes of Wrath) arrived and imported no-nonsense southern Baptist and Pentecostal sensibilities. Until recently, standard surveys of religious history in North America have devoted minimal attention to the distinctive role of religion in the American West and the region's shifting border, having largely focused rather on religious history in the flow of events westward from Massachusetts’s Puritan establishment. In this historical survey, we examine the contours of religion by taking into account new "sights," "cites," and "sites" of race, class, and gender in order to deconstruct and reconstruct the larger incomplete meta-narrative. First-year students are especially welcome. No prerequisites are necessary. 

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22.  Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

140 Immigration and White Supremacy

(Offered as AMST 140 and LJST 140) While discussions of white supremacy are more common now than even a few years ago, the image of the United States as a nation of immigrants remains popular. How can we connect these two notions, that on the one hand the country was founded on and practices a settler colonialism and racial capitalism that privileges whites, with that on the other hand many immigrants of color are working towards their American Dream? Through sociological and historical texts, the course will interrogate what is behind immigration to the United States, including the nation’s imperial and neocolonial interventions abroad that have created the foundation for much displacement. The course also delves into how immigrants navigate racial hierarchies – sometimes successfully and sometimes not – across a variety of spaces, including education, the workplace, cultural discourse, and more. Attention will be given to various groups, including Asian Americans, Latinxs, and others. Students will have research and writing assessments.

Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professors del Moral and Dhingra.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

144 Contemporary Dance Technique: Salsa Performance and Culture

(Offered as THDA 144H and LLAS 144H) This class introduces students to beginner-level salsa technique. We will explore the New York Mambo style of salsa, the Caracas street style, as well as elements of the Cuban Casino style. Students will master variations of the salsa basic step, turns, connecting steps, and arm work. Although we will mostly focus on solo practice, we will learn some essential concepts of partnering work based on the principles of leading and following. Toward the end of the semester, students will be able to use the acquired salsa vocabulary as the basis for improvising and choreographing combinations.

Through the study of salsa’s history, political dimensions, lyrical content, and matrilineal legacy, students will develop an understanding of this artistic expression not only as a dance form or musical genre, but also as a unifying voice of resistance and liberation for Caribbean and Latino cultures. Students will be able to recognize the voices of some of the most iconic Salsa artists and appreciate the contributions of some of the most important female Cuban and Cuban-American performers. We will investigate the legacy of Celia Cruz, paying close attention to the design and performance elements that defined her as The Queen of Salsa. Class discussions and brief writing assignments will serve as opportunities to reflect upon readings, documentaries and other information that will expand our understanding of the form.

Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

186 Pre-Columbian Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 186 and LLAS 186) This course provides an introduction to the Pre-Columbian art and architecture of the Americas. It explores major traditions in architecture and city planning, murals, sculpture, painting, masks, and textiles. The first half of the semester concentrates on Preclassic and Classic Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America); the second on Postclassic Mesoamerica, North America, and the Andes.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Couch.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

200 Major Debates in Latinx and Latin American Studies

(Offered as LLAS 200 and AMST 206) In this course students will become familiar with the major debates that have animated Latinx and Latin American Studies, addressing a wide range of issues from the Conquest to the present. Each week students will focus on specific questions such as: Does Latin America have a common culture? Is Latin America part of the Western world? Is Latinx a race or an ethnicity? Is U.S. Latinx identity rooted in Latin America or the United States? Are Latin American nations post-colonial? Was the modern concept of race invented in the Caribbean at the time of the Conquest? The opposing viewpoints around such questions will provide the main focus of the reading assignments, which will average two or three articles per week. In the first four weeks, students will learn a methodology for analyzing, contextualizing, and making arguments that they will apply in developing their own positions in the specific controversies that will make up the rest of the course.

Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Schroeder Rodriguez. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

201 Power and Resistance in the Black Atlantic

(Offered as BLST 201 [D] HIST 267 [AF/LA/TEp/TR] and LLAS 201) The formation of "the Black Atlantic" or "the African Diaspora" began with the earliest moments of European explorations of the West African coast in the fifteenth century and ended with the abolition of Brazilian slavery in 1888. This momentous historical event irrevocably reshaped the modern world. This course will trace the history of this transformation at two levels; first, we examine large scale historical processes including the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the development of plantation economies, and the birth of liberal democracy. With these sweeping stories as our backdrop, we will also explore the lives of individual Africans and African-Americans, the communities they built, and the cultures they created. We will consider the diversity of the Black Atlantic by examining the lives of a broad array of individuals, including black intellectuals, statesmen, soldiers, religious leaders, healers and rebels. Furthermore, we will pay special attention to trans-Atlantic historical formations common during this period, especially the contributions of Africans and their descendants to Atlantic cultures, societies, and ideas, ultimately understanding enslaved people as creative (rather than reactive) agents of history. So, our questions will be: What is the Black Atlantic? How can we understand both the commonalities and diversity of the experiences of Africans in the Diaspora? What kinds of communities, affinities, and identities did Africans create after being uprooted by the slave trade? What methods do scholars use to understand this history? And finally, what is the modern legacy of the Black Atlantic? Class time will be divided between lecture, small and large group discussion.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hicks.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

204 Housing, Urbanization, and Development

(Offered as ARCH 204, ARHA 204, and LLAS 204) This course studies the theory, policy, and practice of low-income housing in marginalized communities worldwide. We study central concepts in housing theory, key issues regarding low-income housing, different approaches to address these issues, and political debates around housing the poor. We use a comparative focus, going back and forth between the cases of the United States and the so-called developing world. By doing this, we engage in a “theory from without” exercise: We attempt to understand the housing problem in the United States from the perspective of the developing world, and vice versa. We study our subject through illustrated lectures, seminar discussions, documentary films, visual analysis exercises, and a field trip.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

205 Finding Your Bilingual Voice

(Offered as SPAN 205 and LLAS 205) Heritage learners of Spanish are students who have grown up speaking, listening, reading and/or writing Spanish with family or in their community. Because of their unique backgrounds, Spanish heritage language learners (SHLLs) are bilingual and bicultural. They function between a Hispanic and an American identity. This fluid and multiple identity can bring challenges, as SHLLs try to fit into both groups. With this in mind, through meaningful activities that focus on students’ experiences and emotions, this Spanish language course will center on bilingualism, specifically through writing, as a necessary means for identity formation. Because in narrating our stories with others, we enact our identities, this course will connect students with the bilingual community in Amherst or Holyoke. Through this course, students will incorporate their personal experience as SHLLs into their coursework. Activities will foster critical thinking, and students will learn to analyze, read, discuss, write, and reflect on issues of language, culture, and identity. Using a student-centered approach, the course will include collaborative brainstorming, free-writing, developing topics of personal importance, and peer and group editing in order to develop students’ writing proficiency and to build community.

This course prepares Spanish heritage language students for advanced-level courses offered by the Spanish Department. Limited to 18 students per section. This course may be counted toward the Spanish Major. The class will be conducted entirely in Spanish, though some assignments can be submitted in English. Prerequisite: SPAN 201, SPAN 202 or placement exam.

Consent Required (students must identify as Spanish heritage language students). Spring Semester. Senior Lecturer Granda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

225 Latin American Literature in Translation

A joyful introduction to modern Latin American literary classics in translation through the works of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, Julio Cortazar, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Roberto Bolano, Clarise Lispector, and others. The discussion-driven classes will focus on aesthetic movements like Magical Realism as well as on the development of national identity, mestizaje, civil unrest, racial and gender relations, humor, translation, and the opposition between Europeanized and indigenous worldviews. Students will delve into canonical poems, stories, essays, and short novels from the seventeenth century to the present that have reshaped the international scene. Language: English. 

Limited to 40 students. January term. Professor Stavans. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in January 2022, Spring 2022

226 Theorizing the Black Queer Americas

(Offered as BLST 226[D], LLAS 226 and SWAG 226) This course focuses on Black Queer and Trans life and struggle as well as the cultural and intellectual contributions Black Queer and Trans have made to in numerous fields throughout the Americas (North and South). While for many years narratives of the lives of Black LGBTQ people have been silenced and erased due to stigma and intersectional oppression on the basis of race, gender, and sexuality, scholars and artists in the past four decades have worked to recover the stories of Black Queer and Trans communities throughout the diaspora. The Black Queer/Trans Americas will dive into works that highlight these cultural contributions, while also understanding the compounded systemic violence that Black LGBTQ communities have faced and continue to face. By the end of this course students will have a strong understanding of how systems of power work to restrict the freedoms of Black Queer and Trans communities, and how Black LGBTQ people have lived, organized, and created in spite of and in response to these oppressions. This interdisciplinary undergraduate upper level course will utilize academic texts accompanied by poetry, fiction, film, television, and visual art to understand Black Queer and Trans subjectivities. In addition to course materials, the class will also make use of presentations from local artists, activists, and community members in the local area to add to the course experience. Every week will focus on a different theme or field of study related to Black LGBTQ+ life. 

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Poe.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

234 The Sanctuary Movement: Religion, Activism, and Social Contestation

(Offered as REL 234, AMST 234 and LLAS 234) From sanctuary cities and states to sanctuary campuses and churches, declarations of sanctuary sites have swept the nation in recent years. The U.S. Sanctuary Movement, established in 1982 to harbor Central American asylum seekers fleeing civil wars, has today assumed broader social implementations in the New Sanctuary Movement. Beginning with an examination of antecedents to the U.S. Sanctuary Movement in global contexts, this course will offer students an in-depth study of the Sanctuary Movement since the 1980s with special attention to the New Sanctuary Movement which is active today throughout the country.  

No prerequisites necessary. Limited to 20 students. 

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021

240 Religion on the Move: Religion and Migration in North America

(Offered as RELI 240 and LLAS 240) Little Syria in Manhattan, Crypto-Jewish homes in New Mexico, colonias Mormonas in northern Mexico, a Gurdwara deep in the crop-combed fields of California, and Detroit’s New Bethel Baptist Church (the vocal antechamber of Aretha Franklin’s #1 hit you might know as “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”) seem to have little in common. However, a historical examination of such sites reveals that they share basic social building blocks, shaped under similar push and pull factors. This course is concerned with the ways in which migrant groups have altered the religious landscape of North America and how they innovatively reproduce practices from their places of origin. Our main focus will be on the ramifications of religious movement within the U.S.; however, we will also explore migrations that have shaped the continent. Crossing into the U.S. from the eastern seaboard, the Pacific Rim, and the southern border with Mexico, migrants bring their new ways of creating sacred space and negotiating religious life. We will seek to understand the multifaceted relationships between religion and migration. How have migrants negotiated the role of religion in their private and public lives? What have been the social consequences pertaining to gender, praxis, politics, and respectability? The course takes into account migrations prior to the twentieth century in order to understand regional cultures within the U.S. Additionally, case studies in this course will draw heavily from the third wave of American immigration, characterized by twentieth-century “internal migrations” of African Americans, Latinas/os, Native Americans, and rural dwellers into the urban environments. We will conclude by examining the ways in which forces of modern globalization have changed the nature of religious diversity in the U.S. We will extensively compare migrant cultures as we interrogate power and privilege pertaining to race and religion. The cultural production of these migrant groups under study will bring to the class an empathetic understanding of diverse cultures and their forms of belonging.

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020

248 Cuba: The Politics of Extremism

(Offered as POSC 248 and LLAS 248) The study of Cuba’s politics presents opportunities to address issues of universal concern to social scientists and humanists in general, not just Latin Americanists. When is it rational to be radical? Why has Cuban politics forced so many individuals to adopt extreme positions? What are the causes of radical revolutions? Is pre-revolutionary Cuba a case of too little development, uneven development or too rapid development? What is the role of leaders: Do they make history, are they the product of history, or are they the makers of unintended histories? Was the revolution inevitable? Was it necessary? How are new (radical) states constructed? What is the role of foreign actors, existing political institutions, ethnicity, nationalism, religion and sexuality in this process? How does a small nation manage to become influential in world affairs, even altering the behavior of superpowers? What are the conditions that account for the survival of authoritarianism? To what extent is the revolution capable of self-reform? Is the current intention of state leaders of pursuing closed politics with open economics viable? What are the most effective mechanisms to change the regime? Why does the embargo survive? Why did Cubans (at home and abroad) care about Elián González? Although the readings will be mostly from social scientists, the course also includes selections from primary sources, literary works and films (of Cuban and non-Cuban origin). As with almost everything in politics, there are more than just two sides to the issue of Cuba. One aim of the course is to expose the students to as many different sides as possible.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Corrales.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Fall 2019

261 History of Central America

(Offered as HIST 261 [LA/TC/TE/TR/TS] and LLAS 261) In this course, students will gain an understanding of major events and themes in the histories of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. As important, they will think and write critically about the contentious history of the region. For good reason, Central America is often considered as a whole, but despite many commonalities, each country's history is unique. How did the indigenous cultures of northern Central America compare to those of the south? Why did the once-united Federation of Central America fracture into five different states? How did Honduras become the quintessential "banana republic"? Why did Guatemala suffer decades of military dictatorships, while Costa Rica abolished its military at the same time? Through lectures and readings, we will answer these questions as we address topics including precolonial indigenous cultures; the conquest, slavery, and encomienda; independence and the struggles of nation-building; foreign interventions; and reforms, revolutions, and counterrevolutions. Two class meetings per week.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

262 Latin America and the United States

(Offered as HIST 262 [LA/TE] and LLAS 262) In this course, students will gain an understanding of major events and themes in the history of United States foreign policy toward Latin America from colonial times to the present.  As important, they will think and write critically about the contentious history of U.S.-Latin American relations.  Just a few of the many topics to be addressed are the Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. invasion of Mexico, the construction of the Panama Canal, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and the Iran-Contra Scandal.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020

263 Struggles for Democracy in Modern Latin America, 1820 to the Present

(Offered as HIST 263 [LA/TE/TR/TS] and LLAS 263) Latin Americans began their struggle for democracy during the independence wars at the start of the nineteenth century. Their struggle continues today. This course considers the historical meanings of democracy in various Latin American countries, with particular attention to the relationship between liberalism and democracy in the nineteenth century; the broadening of democracy at the start of the twentieth century; the rise and fall of military dictatorships in the 1960s–1980s and their impact upon civil society; and the current clashes between neo-liberal economic programs and the neo-populist resurgence of the left. Readings and discussions will focus on the ways broad economic and political shifts impacted individuals' lives; how each economic class experienced these shifts differently; the way race and gender have shaped peoples' experience with democratization and repression; and the personal processes of radicalization by which individuals became inspired to take risks in their struggle for inclusion and against repression. Because the approach is thematic and chronological, some countries and regions will receive more attention than others. Meetings and readings will draw on secondary studies, historical documents, testimonials, music, images, and film. Two meetings per week.

Spring Semester. Professor López.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

264 Introduction to Latin America: Conquest, Colonization and Rebellion

(Offered as HIST 264 [LA/TC/TE/TR/P] and LLAS 264)  Over the course of three centuries, massive migrations from Europe and Africa and the dramatic decline of indigenous populations in South and Central America radically transformed the cultural, political, economic, and material landscape of what we today know as Latin America. This course will investigate the dynamism of Latin American societies beginning in the ancient or pre-conquest period and ending with the collapse of European rule in most Spanish, Portuguese, and French speaking territories in the New World. We will explore this history through the eyes of various historical actors, including politicians, explorers, noble men and women, indigenous intellectuals, and African slaves. In addition to interrogating the myriad of peaceable and creative cross-cultural exchanges and interactions that characterized the relationship between these groups, we will also explore how conflict, exploitation, and natural disaster shaped the Colonial Latin American experience. Through a mixture of lecture, small and large group activities, and analysis of primary and secondary sources we will also consider how historians understand the past as well as the foundational debates which shape our current interpretations of colonial Latin American history. Two class meetings per week.

Fall semester. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

301 Literature and Culture of the Hispanic World

(Offered as SPAN 301 and LLAS 301) This course provides an introduction to the diverse literatures and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world over the course of six centuries, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. Students will learn the tools, language, and critical vocabulary for advanced work reading the canon of Hispanic literatures from Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean Basin, identifying aesthetic trends, historical periods and diverse genres such as poetry, narrative, theater and film. The syllabus will include a wide variety of authors of different national, political, and artistic persuasions and an array of linguistic styles. This course prepares students for advanced work in Spanish and for study abroad.

Requisite SPAN 202 or Spanish Placement Exam. Proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Spanish are required. Limited to 20 students per section. Fall semester: Visiting Professor Porter.  Spring semester: Professor Brenneis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

341 Mexican Rebels 

(Offered as LLAS 341 and HIST 341 [LA/TE/TR/TS]) What inspires individuals to risk everything to try to change their world? Students will attempt to answer this question through cases ranging from personal acts of rebellion, to social movements and armed conflict. The course pays close attention to personal acts of rebellion against repressive racial, political, and gender structures, focusing on such figures as Hernán Córtes’s legendary consort La Malinche (Malintzin Tenepal), the seventeenth-century protofeminist Sor Juana Inéz de la Cruz, the transgender revolutionary general Amelia/o Robles Ávila, and the artists Gerardo Murillo, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. We also will address armed conflicts such as the Tlaxcalan war against the Aztec Empire, the Wars of Independence (1810-1821), the Maya uprising against white domination in the second half of the nineteenth century, guerrilla resistance against US and French invasions in the 1840s and 1860s, the War of Reform (1857-1860), the Cristero War (1926-1929), the Zapatista uprising of the 1990s, and, most importantly, the Mexican Revolution of (1910-1921). And we will examine social protests, such as the student movement that ended in the Tlatelolco Massacre of 1968, El Barzón, #YoSoy132, MORENA, APPO, the Ayotzinapa protests, and peasant ecology initiatives.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor R. Lopez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

342 Marxism and Revolution in Twentieth-Century Latin America

(Offered as HIST 342 [LA] and LLAS 342) With one significant exception, Latin America’s major revolutions have been led by groups espousing one of three main currents of Marxist thought: Marxism-Leninism (Stalinism), Trotskyism, and Maoism. In this course, the student will master the basics of those theories through the reading and analysis of their primary texts. We will then consider case studies of Marxist-inspired revolutions in Bolivia, Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, and Peru. With the aid of lectures and further readings, the student will critically evaluate, in a series of papers, how Marxist theories were applied in practice in twentieth-century Latin America. One class meeting per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2019

343 Comparative Borderlands: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Transnational Perspective

(Offered as SPAN 342, LLAS 343 and SWAG 343) “Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out,” Chicana feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldúa wrote in the hybrid text Borderlands/La Frontera. She was referring to, what she called, the linguistic imperialism of English in the US Southwest. And yet she also carved out a third space for those subjects at the crossroads of multiple ways of being – the queer and the abject. In this course, we will examine cultural and literary texts that speak to the ways that race, gender, and sexual identity are conditioned by the historical development of geopolitical borders. We will pay particular attention to the US-Mexico Borderlands but we will also examine other places in which “borderlands” of identity exist. Course conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

344 The Cuban Revolution, 1959–2009

(Offered as HIST 344 [LA] and LLAS 344) Sixty years after its triumph, the Cuban revolution continues to ignite controversy and to influence the politics of the Americas and beyond This course will provide an in-depth examination of the origins, course, development, and historical interpretations of the Cuban revolution over its first half-century. Its charismatic leader, Fidel Castro, will receive special attention, as will his closest collaborators: the honorary Cuban, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, and Fidel's younger brother, Raúl. Among many other topics to be explored are the revolution's turn to Marxism-Leninism and the Soviet bloc; its contentious relationship with the United States; the creation and construction of a Cuban socialism; Cuba's special relationship with Africa; and the perennial efforts of Cuban émigrés to overthrow the revolution. We will conclude by considering the revolution's prospects in a post-Soviet—and now post-Fidel—world.

Not offered 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

(Offered as HIST 345 [LA/TR/TS], LLAS 345, and SWAG 345) Popular mythologies of Latin America have historically relied on hyper-masculine archetypes, including the conquistador, the caudillo, and the guerrillero to explain the continent’s past, culture and political development. By contrast, students in this course will be asked to bring women, gender and sexuality from the margins to the center of Latin American history. In doing so, we will reevaluate four transformative historical moments: the Spanish conquest, the wars of independence, the emergence of industrial capitalism, and the proliferation of late twentieth-century political revolutions. Through an exploration of these key periods of upheaval we will assess how social conflict was frequently mediated through competing definitions of masculinity and femininity. In addition, this course will explore the ways in which women’s activism has been central to social and political movements across the continent. Furthermore, we will investigate how the domain of sexual practice and reproduction underpinned broader conflicts over racial purity, worker power, and the boundaries of citizenship in racially and ethnically diverse societies. The course will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered in 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

346 Indigenous Histories of Latin America

(Offered as HIST 346 [LA/TE/TR]  and LLAS 346) In this course, students will explore the cultures and civilizations of native peoples of Latin America from ancient times to the present.  Examining the Caribbean, Mesoamerican, Andean, and Amazonian regions, we will consider questions such as: What were the earliest cultures of the Americas like?  How did civilizations such as the Maya, the Aztecs, and the Inca confront the unprecedented challenges of the conquest?  How did indigenous peoples resist and forcibly adapt to centuries of Spanish and Portuguese colonialism?  What roles did native peoples  play in the new nations of the nineteenth century?  How have indigenous peoples pursued their own struggles for citizenship in the face of threats to their autonomy and the environment?  In a series of short writing assignments and a longer paper based on original research, students will explore secondary historiographies, analyze diverse primary sources, and discuss different historical methods in the study of the indigenous past and present. Two meetings per week.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

 
2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

357 Understanding Spanish Structure and Use

(Offered as SPAN 357 and LLAS 357) Spanish is the second-most widely spoken language in the world. With more than 400 million native speakers, it has official status in 21 countries. In the United States more than 40 million people use Spanish in their daily lives. What exactly is the Spanish language? What do you actually know when you speak Spanish? These questions are at the heart of this course. By following a bottom-up design—from smallest to largest segments of language—we will understand the basic characteristics of human language and will examine the architecture of the Spanish language: how its sounds are produced and how they combine; how its words are constructed from their component parts; how its sentences are formed; how its meanings are understood; and how its use reflects aspects of our socio-cultural behavior. As an approach to the formal study of the Spanish language, we will explore actual and diverse language data such as texts, speech samples, and songs to grasp complex linguistic phenomena. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: Spanish 202 or permission of instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Sánchez-Naranjo.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022

362 Childhood in African and Caribbean Literature

(Offered as ENGL 318, BLST 362 [A/CLA], and LLAS 362) The course will concentrate on Caribbean authors. It explores the process of self-definition in literary works from Africa and the Caribbean that are built around child protagonists. We will examine the authors’ various methods of ordering experience through the choice of literary form and narrative technique, as well as the child/author’s perception of his or her society. French texts will be read in translation.

Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Cobham-Sander.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2020

375 Amherst Latinx Lives

(Offered as AMST 375, LLAS 375, SOCI 375 and SPAN 375) Over the past four decades, the Latinx student population at Amherst has increased more than seven-fold, from about 30 students per class in the 1970s, to over 200 per class in the last several years. As a community, however, we know very little about the subjective experience of Latinxs who live, study, and work at Amherst College. In this course, we will read and discuss different genres of scholarship that focus on the Latinx experience—empirical research, fiction, memoirs, and films—before proceeding to a series of workshops on how to conduct oral history interviews. Students will then apply this theoretical and practical knowledge to an exploration of the experiences of Latinx students, alumni, faculty, and staff in our community. These interviews will form the basis of a collectively-edited documentary designed to encourage cross-cultural dialogues within and outside the Latinx community, and in the process, increase awareness of the diversity of Latinx lives on our campus. Students of all backgrounds are welcome, and knowledge of Spanish or Spanglish is useful but not required.

Admission with the consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-2022 Professors Schroeder Rodríguez and Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

451 Translation Roots of a US Literary Landscape

(Offered as SPAN 451 and LLAS 451) This course highlights literary connections between the United States and the Spanish-speaking world via translation. Through a study of texts from the late nineteenth century to the present, we will look at the role of translation in literary histories and current literary activities. We will examine how writers have translated in order to practice and enhance their creative writing. We will use translation as a way to access and analyze literary texts. We will also think about translation as professional and collaborative activities. We will study the work of José Martí (Cuba), Julia de Burgos (Puerto Rico), Silvina Ocampo (Argentina), Felipe Alfau (Catalonia-Spain), Salvador Dalí (Catalonia-Spain), Achy Obejas (Cuba), and Urayoán Noel (Puerto Rico), among others. In addition, we will explore ways of contributing with translational activities to our own literary landscape in the Amherst area by possibly collaborating with local institutions such as the Emily Dickinson Museum, the Eric Carle Museum, and the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or permission of the instructor.  Limited to 18 students. Fall Semester: Visiting Associate Professor Galasso.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

455 One Hundred Years of Solitude

(Offered as LLAS 455 and SPAN 455) A patient, detailed, Talmudic reading of Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpiece, Cien años de soledad, known as “the Bible of Latin America.” The course sets it in biographical, historical, and aesthetic context. Conducted in Spanish.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Stavans. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2018, Spring 2021

461 The Creole Imagination

(Offered as ENGL 491, BLST 461 [CLA], and LLAS 461) What would it mean to write in the language in which we dream? A language that we can hear, but cannot (yet) see? Is it possible to conceive a language outside the socio-symbolic order? And can one language subvert the codes and values of another? Questions like these have animated the creolité/nation language debate among Caribbean intellectuals since the mid-1970s, producing some of the most significant francophone and anglophone writing of the twentieth century. This course reads across philosophy, cultural theory, politics, and literature in order to consider the claims such works make for the Creole imagination. We will engage the theoretical and creative work of Édouard Glissant, Maryse Condé, Wilson Harris, Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, Patrick Chamoiseau, Jamaica Kincaid, and Edwidge Danticat. We also will consider how these writers transform some of the fundamental ideas of psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and critical historiography. At stake in our readings will be the various aesthetic and political aspects of postcolonial struggle–how to think outside the colonial architecture of language; how to contest and subvert what remains from history’s violence; and how to evaluate the claims to authenticity of creolized New World cultural forms.

Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Cobham-Sander.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2020

463 Research Seminar in the History of the Atlantic Slave Trade

(Offered as BLST 363 [CLA], HIST 463 [AF/TC/TE/TS/TR/P] and LLAS 463) In this course students will consult, analyze, and employ a variety of sources, including the accounts of missionaries, journals of slave traders, the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, and the few available slave narratives written by Africans. Students will be presented with the tools to write original research on topics including the involvement of Western African societies in the slave trade, the logistics of the Middle Passage, characteristics of the captives transported from Africa to the Americas, and the Africans' own experiences of the Middle Passage and adaptation to the slave régimes of the Americas. Students will write a series of short assignments leading up to a major research paper of 20-25 pages.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

485 Telenovelas

(Offered as SPAN 485 and LLAS 485) Arguably the most influential popular form of cultural expression in Latin America, a single episode of any prime-time telenovela is watched by more people than all the accumulated number of Spanish-language readers of One Hundred Years of Solitude over time. The course will explore the historical origin and development of telenovelas as well as various production techniques, the way scripts are shaped and actors are asked to perform, the role of music and other sounds, etc. Each country in the region has its own telenovela tradition. We will look at Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and the Spanish-language productions of Univisión and Telemundo in the United States, among others. But the main objective of the course will be to analyze the performative nature of emotions in telenovelas and also gender, class, and political tension on the small screen. And we will delve into the strategies various governments have used by means of telenovelas to control the population (“melodrama is the true opium of the masses,” said a prominent Mexican telenovela director), their use as educational devices, and the clash between telenovelas and fútbol in the region’s celebrity ecosystem. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Stavans.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499 Senior Honors

Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Related Courses

AMST-305 Gender, Migration and Power: Latinos in the Americas (Course not offered this year.)
ARHA-255 Latin American Art: Strategies and Tactics (Course not offered this year.)
BLST-201 Power and Resistance in the Black Atlantic (Course not offered this year.)
ENGL-491 The Creole Imagination (Course not offered this year.)
HIST-345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-248 Cuba: The Politics of Extremism (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-307 States of Extraction: Nature, Women, and World Politics (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-421 Indigenous World Politics (Course not offered this year.)
RELI-240 Religion on the Move: Religion and Migration in North America (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-330 Latin American Cinema (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-335 New Latin American Documentary (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-370 <em>Mare Nostrum</em>: The Caribbean as Idea and Invention (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-435 Puerto Rico: Diaspora Nation (Course not offered this year.)

Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses

Back

Latinx and Latin American Studies

Professors del Moral, R. López (Chair), Schmalzbauer*, and Schroeder Rodríguez; Associate Professor Lohse; Assistant Professors Barba, and Coranez Bolton*.

Affiliated Faculty: Professors Cobham-Sander‡, Corrales*, and Stavans; Associate Professors Arboleda, and Walker*; Assistant Professors Infante, Ravikumar*, Sanchez-Naranjo, and Vicario.

Latinx and Latin American Studies (LLAS) is an interdisciplinary major program designed for students interested in critically examining the diverse histories and cultures of Latin America, the Caribbean, and U.S. Latinxs. Students in the major gain breadth and depth of learning through courses in the humanities and the social sciences that situate these histories and cultures within local, national, regional, hemispheric, and global contexts over time, while practical experiences such as community projects and study abroad provide opportunities to apply this learning in transformative ways.

Major Program. Majoring in LLAS requires the completion of nine courses: seven courses as described below, plus two additional courses to be chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor.

  • one required course: LLAS 200: Major Debates in Latinx and Latin American Studies.
  • one course on U.S. Latinxs in any department.
  • one course on Latin America in any department.
  • one course on the Caribbean in any department.
  • two courses taught in one of the languages spoken in Latin America and the Caribbean, other than English. These courses may focus on the development of language skills, and/or they may be content courses on a subject relevant to the Major.
  • a research or methods seminar in any department, with completion of the written project on a topic relevant to LLAS. In order to ensure that the research will be on a topic relevant to LLAS, the research or methods seminar must be approved by both the Major advisor and the professor teaching the course.

LLAS majors may credit up to three courses from another major, provided they fall into one of the categories listed above. In addition, majors must have

  • a concentration with at least three courses in one of the following areas: U.S. Latinxs, Latin America, or the Caribbean.
  • at least two courses in the humanities and at least two in the social sciences.
  • coursework in at least three departments.
  • residency requirement: at least five of the nine courses must be taken at Amherst College.
  • Capstone Requirement: The capstone requirement will be met through a portfolio of work done in the Major, introduced by a reflective essay that addresses how the interdisciplinary nature of the coursework informs a question or topic of special interest to the student and his/her long-term plans. Students will publicly share these reflections during a LLAS Major Capstone Symposium.

Departmental Honors Program. Candidates for Latin Honors must complete a senior thesis. The work of the thesis may be creative or scholarly in nature. Interested candidates must apply and be accepted by the end of their third year, and must, in addition to the coursework described above, enroll in LLAS 498 and/or 499 during their senior year.

*On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-2021. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22. 
 
 

130 Latinx Religion

(Offered as RELI 130and LLAS 130) On the dawn of the quincentenary of the Protestant Reformation, the April 2013 cover story of Time Magazine heralded the “Latino Reformation.” After 500 years of religious contact, conflict, and conversions throughout the Americas, “Latino USA” is undergoing unprecedented religious transformations. Latinxs, now comprising the largest ethnic minority group in the United States, are largely responsible for the new expressions of Abrahamic religious traditions in the country. This course is a historical survey of the growing and diverse U.S. Latinx religious experiences. The chronology of the course will begin with pre-contact Indian religions and cultures, then follow with an examination of Iberian Catholic and Indian contact cultures, Catholic and Protestant migrations into the U.S., and the negotiation and representation of Latinx religious identities today.

Spring semester. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2022

135 Race and Religion in the U.S. West/Mexico Borderlands

(Offered as REL 135, AMST 231, HIST 135 and LLAS 135) One historian aptly described the U.S. West as “one of the greatest meeting places on the planet." The region is a site of cultural complexity where New Mexican Penitentes maintained a criminalized sacred order, an African American holiness preacher forged the global Pentecostal movement, Native Americans staked out legal definitions and practices of "religion," Asian immigrants built their first Buddhist and Sikh temples in the face of persecution, and dispossessed Dust Bowl migrants (in the spirit of the Joad family in John Steinbeck’s novel the Grapes of Wrath) arrived and imported no-nonsense southern Baptist and Pentecostal sensibilities. Until recently, standard surveys of religious history in North America have devoted minimal attention to the distinctive role of religion in the American West and the region's shifting border, having largely focused rather on religious history in the flow of events westward from Massachusetts’s Puritan establishment. In this historical survey, we examine the contours of religion by taking into account new "sights," "cites," and "sites" of race, class, and gender in order to deconstruct and reconstruct the larger incomplete meta-narrative. First-year students are especially welcome. No prerequisites are necessary. 

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22.  Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

140 Immigration and White Supremacy

(Offered as AMST 140 and LJST 140) While discussions of white supremacy are more common now than even a few years ago, the image of the United States as a nation of immigrants remains popular. How can we connect these two notions, that on the one hand the country was founded on and practices a settler colonialism and racial capitalism that privileges whites, with that on the other hand many immigrants of color are working towards their American Dream? Through sociological and historical texts, the course will interrogate what is behind immigration to the United States, including the nation’s imperial and neocolonial interventions abroad that have created the foundation for much displacement. The course also delves into how immigrants navigate racial hierarchies – sometimes successfully and sometimes not – across a variety of spaces, including education, the workplace, cultural discourse, and more. Attention will be given to various groups, including Asian Americans, Latinxs, and others. Students will have research and writing assessments.

Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professors del Moral and Dhingra.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

144 Contemporary Dance Technique: Salsa Performance and Culture

(Offered as THDA 144H and LLAS 144H) This class introduces students to beginner-level salsa technique. We will explore the New York Mambo style of salsa, the Caracas street style, as well as elements of the Cuban Casino style. Students will master variations of the salsa basic step, turns, connecting steps, and arm work. Although we will mostly focus on solo practice, we will learn some essential concepts of partnering work based on the principles of leading and following. Toward the end of the semester, students will be able to use the acquired salsa vocabulary as the basis for improvising and choreographing combinations.

Through the study of salsa’s history, political dimensions, lyrical content, and matrilineal legacy, students will develop an understanding of this artistic expression not only as a dance form or musical genre, but also as a unifying voice of resistance and liberation for Caribbean and Latino cultures. Students will be able to recognize the voices of some of the most iconic Salsa artists and appreciate the contributions of some of the most important female Cuban and Cuban-American performers. We will investigate the legacy of Celia Cruz, paying close attention to the design and performance elements that defined her as The Queen of Salsa. Class discussions and brief writing assignments will serve as opportunities to reflect upon readings, documentaries and other information that will expand our understanding of the form.

Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

186 Pre-Columbian Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 186 and LLAS 186) This course provides an introduction to the Pre-Columbian art and architecture of the Americas. It explores major traditions in architecture and city planning, murals, sculpture, painting, masks, and textiles. The first half of the semester concentrates on Preclassic and Classic Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America); the second on Postclassic Mesoamerica, North America, and the Andes.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Couch.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

200 Major Debates in Latinx and Latin American Studies

(Offered as LLAS 200 and AMST 206) In this course students will become familiar with the major debates that have animated Latinx and Latin American Studies, addressing a wide range of issues from the Conquest to the present. Each week students will focus on specific questions such as: Does Latin America have a common culture? Is Latin America part of the Western world? Is Latinx a race or an ethnicity? Is U.S. Latinx identity rooted in Latin America or the United States? Are Latin American nations post-colonial? Was the modern concept of race invented in the Caribbean at the time of the Conquest? The opposing viewpoints around such questions will provide the main focus of the reading assignments, which will average two or three articles per week. In the first four weeks, students will learn a methodology for analyzing, contextualizing, and making arguments that they will apply in developing their own positions in the specific controversies that will make up the rest of the course.

Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Schroeder Rodriguez. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

201 Power and Resistance in the Black Atlantic

(Offered as BLST 201 [D] HIST 267 [AF/LA/TEp/TR] and LLAS 201) The formation of "the Black Atlantic" or "the African Diaspora" began with the earliest moments of European explorations of the West African coast in the fifteenth century and ended with the abolition of Brazilian slavery in 1888. This momentous historical event irrevocably reshaped the modern world. This course will trace the history of this transformation at two levels; first, we examine large scale historical processes including the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the development of plantation economies, and the birth of liberal democracy. With these sweeping stories as our backdrop, we will also explore the lives of individual Africans and African-Americans, the communities they built, and the cultures they created. We will consider the diversity of the Black Atlantic by examining the lives of a broad array of individuals, including black intellectuals, statesmen, soldiers, religious leaders, healers and rebels. Furthermore, we will pay special attention to trans-Atlantic historical formations common during this period, especially the contributions of Africans and their descendants to Atlantic cultures, societies, and ideas, ultimately understanding enslaved people as creative (rather than reactive) agents of history. So, our questions will be: What is the Black Atlantic? How can we understand both the commonalities and diversity of the experiences of Africans in the Diaspora? What kinds of communities, affinities, and identities did Africans create after being uprooted by the slave trade? What methods do scholars use to understand this history? And finally, what is the modern legacy of the Black Atlantic? Class time will be divided between lecture, small and large group discussion.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hicks.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

204 Housing, Urbanization, and Development

(Offered as ARCH 204, ARHA 204, and LLAS 204) This course studies the theory, policy, and practice of low-income housing in marginalized communities worldwide. We study central concepts in housing theory, key issues regarding low-income housing, different approaches to address these issues, and political debates around housing the poor. We use a comparative focus, going back and forth between the cases of the United States and the so-called developing world. By doing this, we engage in a “theory from without” exercise: We attempt to understand the housing problem in the United States from the perspective of the developing world, and vice versa. We study our subject through illustrated lectures, seminar discussions, documentary films, visual analysis exercises, and a field trip.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

205 Finding Your Bilingual Voice

(Offered as SPAN 205 and LLAS 205) Heritage learners of Spanish are students who have grown up speaking, listening, reading and/or writing Spanish with family or in their community. Because of their unique backgrounds, Spanish heritage language learners (SHLLs) are bilingual and bicultural. They function between a Hispanic and an American identity. This fluid and multiple identity can bring challenges, as SHLLs try to fit into both groups. With this in mind, through meaningful activities that focus on students’ experiences and emotions, this Spanish language course will center on bilingualism, specifically through writing, as a necessary means for identity formation. Because in narrating our stories with others, we enact our identities, this course will connect students with the bilingual community in Amherst or Holyoke. Through this course, students will incorporate their personal experience as SHLLs into their coursework. Activities will foster critical thinking, and students will learn to analyze, read, discuss, write, and reflect on issues of language, culture, and identity. Using a student-centered approach, the course will include collaborative brainstorming, free-writing, developing topics of personal importance, and peer and group editing in order to develop students’ writing proficiency and to build community.

This course prepares Spanish heritage language students for advanced-level courses offered by the Spanish Department. Limited to 18 students per section. This course may be counted toward the Spanish Major. The class will be conducted entirely in Spanish, though some assignments can be submitted in English. Prerequisite: SPAN 201, SPAN 202 or placement exam.

Consent Required (students must identify as Spanish heritage language students). Spring Semester. Senior Lecturer Granda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

225 Latin American Literature in Translation

A joyful introduction to modern Latin American literary classics in translation through the works of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, Julio Cortazar, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Roberto Bolano, Clarise Lispector, and others. The discussion-driven classes will focus on aesthetic movements like Magical Realism as well as on the development of national identity, mestizaje, civil unrest, racial and gender relations, humor, translation, and the opposition between Europeanized and indigenous worldviews. Students will delve into canonical poems, stories, essays, and short novels from the seventeenth century to the present that have reshaped the international scene. Language: English. 

Limited to 40 students. January term. Professor Stavans. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in January 2022, Spring 2022

226 Theorizing the Black Queer Americas

(Offered as BLST 226[D], LLAS 226 and SWAG 226) This course focuses on Black Queer and Trans life and struggle as well as the cultural and intellectual contributions Black Queer and Trans have made to in numerous fields throughout the Americas (North and South). While for many years narratives of the lives of Black LGBTQ people have been silenced and erased due to stigma and intersectional oppression on the basis of race, gender, and sexuality, scholars and artists in the past four decades have worked to recover the stories of Black Queer and Trans communities throughout the diaspora. The Black Queer/Trans Americas will dive into works that highlight these cultural contributions, while also understanding the compounded systemic violence that Black LGBTQ communities have faced and continue to face. By the end of this course students will have a strong understanding of how systems of power work to restrict the freedoms of Black Queer and Trans communities, and how Black LGBTQ people have lived, organized, and created in spite of and in response to these oppressions. This interdisciplinary undergraduate upper level course will utilize academic texts accompanied by poetry, fiction, film, television, and visual art to understand Black Queer and Trans subjectivities. In addition to course materials, the class will also make use of presentations from local artists, activists, and community members in the local area to add to the course experience. Every week will focus on a different theme or field of study related to Black LGBTQ+ life. 

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Poe.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

234 The Sanctuary Movement: Religion, Activism, and Social Contestation

(Offered as REL 234, AMST 234 and LLAS 234) From sanctuary cities and states to sanctuary campuses and churches, declarations of sanctuary sites have swept the nation in recent years. The U.S. Sanctuary Movement, established in 1982 to harbor Central American asylum seekers fleeing civil wars, has today assumed broader social implementations in the New Sanctuary Movement. Beginning with an examination of antecedents to the U.S. Sanctuary Movement in global contexts, this course will offer students an in-depth study of the Sanctuary Movement since the 1980s with special attention to the New Sanctuary Movement which is active today throughout the country.  

No prerequisites necessary. Limited to 20 students. 

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021

240 Religion on the Move: Religion and Migration in North America

(Offered as RELI 240 and LLAS 240) Little Syria in Manhattan, Crypto-Jewish homes in New Mexico, colonias Mormonas in northern Mexico, a Gurdwara deep in the crop-combed fields of California, and Detroit’s New Bethel Baptist Church (the vocal antechamber of Aretha Franklin’s #1 hit you might know as “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”) seem to have little in common. However, a historical examination of such sites reveals that they share basic social building blocks, shaped under similar push and pull factors. This course is concerned with the ways in which migrant groups have altered the religious landscape of North America and how they innovatively reproduce practices from their places of origin. Our main focus will be on the ramifications of religious movement within the U.S.; however, we will also explore migrations that have shaped the continent. Crossing into the U.S. from the eastern seaboard, the Pacific Rim, and the southern border with Mexico, migrants bring their new ways of creating sacred space and negotiating religious life. We will seek to understand the multifaceted relationships between religion and migration. How have migrants negotiated the role of religion in their private and public lives? What have been the social consequences pertaining to gender, praxis, politics, and respectability? The course takes into account migrations prior to the twentieth century in order to understand regional cultures within the U.S. Additionally, case studies in this course will draw heavily from the third wave of American immigration, characterized by twentieth-century “internal migrations” of African Americans, Latinas/os, Native Americans, and rural dwellers into the urban environments. We will conclude by examining the ways in which forces of modern globalization have changed the nature of religious diversity in the U.S. We will extensively compare migrant cultures as we interrogate power and privilege pertaining to race and religion. The cultural production of these migrant groups under study will bring to the class an empathetic understanding of diverse cultures and their forms of belonging.

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020

248 Cuba: The Politics of Extremism

(Offered as POSC 248 and LLAS 248) The study of Cuba’s politics presents opportunities to address issues of universal concern to social scientists and humanists in general, not just Latin Americanists. When is it rational to be radical? Why has Cuban politics forced so many individuals to adopt extreme positions? What are the causes of radical revolutions? Is pre-revolutionary Cuba a case of too little development, uneven development or too rapid development? What is the role of leaders: Do they make history, are they the product of history, or are they the makers of unintended histories? Was the revolution inevitable? Was it necessary? How are new (radical) states constructed? What is the role of foreign actors, existing political institutions, ethnicity, nationalism, religion and sexuality in this process? How does a small nation manage to become influential in world affairs, even altering the behavior of superpowers? What are the conditions that account for the survival of authoritarianism? To what extent is the revolution capable of self-reform? Is the current intention of state leaders of pursuing closed politics with open economics viable? What are the most effective mechanisms to change the regime? Why does the embargo survive? Why did Cubans (at home and abroad) care about Elián González? Although the readings will be mostly from social scientists, the course also includes selections from primary sources, literary works and films (of Cuban and non-Cuban origin). As with almost everything in politics, there are more than just two sides to the issue of Cuba. One aim of the course is to expose the students to as many different sides as possible.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Corrales.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Fall 2019

261 History of Central America

(Offered as HIST 261 [LA/TC/TE/TR/TS] and LLAS 261) In this course, students will gain an understanding of major events and themes in the histories of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. As important, they will think and write critically about the contentious history of the region. For good reason, Central America is often considered as a whole, but despite many commonalities, each country's history is unique. How did the indigenous cultures of northern Central America compare to those of the south? Why did the once-united Federation of Central America fracture into five different states? How did Honduras become the quintessential "banana republic"? Why did Guatemala suffer decades of military dictatorships, while Costa Rica abolished its military at the same time? Through lectures and readings, we will answer these questions as we address topics including precolonial indigenous cultures; the conquest, slavery, and encomienda; independence and the struggles of nation-building; foreign interventions; and reforms, revolutions, and counterrevolutions. Two class meetings per week.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

262 Latin America and the United States

(Offered as HIST 262 [LA/TE] and LLAS 262) In this course, students will gain an understanding of major events and themes in the history of United States foreign policy toward Latin America from colonial times to the present.  As important, they will think and write critically about the contentious history of U.S.-Latin American relations.  Just a few of the many topics to be addressed are the Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. invasion of Mexico, the construction of the Panama Canal, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and the Iran-Contra Scandal.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020

263 Struggles for Democracy in Modern Latin America, 1820 to the Present

(Offered as HIST 263 [LA/TE/TR/TS] and LLAS 263) Latin Americans began their struggle for democracy during the independence wars at the start of the nineteenth century. Their struggle continues today. This course considers the historical meanings of democracy in various Latin American countries, with particular attention to the relationship between liberalism and democracy in the nineteenth century; the broadening of democracy at the start of the twentieth century; the rise and fall of military dictatorships in the 1960s–1980s and their impact upon civil society; and the current clashes between neo-liberal economic programs and the neo-populist resurgence of the left. Readings and discussions will focus on the ways broad economic and political shifts impacted individuals' lives; how each economic class experienced these shifts differently; the way race and gender have shaped peoples' experience with democratization and repression; and the personal processes of radicalization by which individuals became inspired to take risks in their struggle for inclusion and against repression. Because the approach is thematic and chronological, some countries and regions will receive more attention than others. Meetings and readings will draw on secondary studies, historical documents, testimonials, music, images, and film. Two meetings per week.

Spring Semester. Professor López.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

264 Introduction to Latin America: Conquest, Colonization and Rebellion

(Offered as HIST 264 [LA/TC/TE/TR/P] and LLAS 264)  Over the course of three centuries, massive migrations from Europe and Africa and the dramatic decline of indigenous populations in South and Central America radically transformed the cultural, political, economic, and material landscape of what we today know as Latin America. This course will investigate the dynamism of Latin American societies beginning in the ancient or pre-conquest period and ending with the collapse of European rule in most Spanish, Portuguese, and French speaking territories in the New World. We will explore this history through the eyes of various historical actors, including politicians, explorers, noble men and women, indigenous intellectuals, and African slaves. In addition to interrogating the myriad of peaceable and creative cross-cultural exchanges and interactions that characterized the relationship between these groups, we will also explore how conflict, exploitation, and natural disaster shaped the Colonial Latin American experience. Through a mixture of lecture, small and large group activities, and analysis of primary and secondary sources we will also consider how historians understand the past as well as the foundational debates which shape our current interpretations of colonial Latin American history. Two class meetings per week.

Fall semester. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

301 Literature and Culture of the Hispanic World

(Offered as SPAN 301 and LLAS 301) This course provides an introduction to the diverse literatures and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world over the course of six centuries, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. Students will learn the tools, language, and critical vocabulary for advanced work reading the canon of Hispanic literatures from Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean Basin, identifying aesthetic trends, historical periods and diverse genres such as poetry, narrative, theater and film. The syllabus will include a wide variety of authors of different national, political, and artistic persuasions and an array of linguistic styles. This course prepares students for advanced work in Spanish and for study abroad.

Requisite SPAN 202 or Spanish Placement Exam. Proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Spanish are required. Limited to 20 students per section. Fall semester: Visiting Professor Porter.  Spring semester: Professor Brenneis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

341 Mexican Rebels 

(Offered as LLAS 341 and HIST 341 [LA/TE/TR/TS]) What inspires individuals to risk everything to try to change their world? Students will attempt to answer this question through cases ranging from personal acts of rebellion, to social movements and armed conflict. The course pays close attention to personal acts of rebellion against repressive racial, political, and gender structures, focusing on such figures as Hernán Córtes’s legendary consort La Malinche (Malintzin Tenepal), the seventeenth-century protofeminist Sor Juana Inéz de la Cruz, the transgender revolutionary general Amelia/o Robles Ávila, and the artists Gerardo Murillo, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. We also will address armed conflicts such as the Tlaxcalan war against the Aztec Empire, the Wars of Independence (1810-1821), the Maya uprising against white domination in the second half of the nineteenth century, guerrilla resistance against US and French invasions in the 1840s and 1860s, the War of Reform (1857-1860), the Cristero War (1926-1929), the Zapatista uprising of the 1990s, and, most importantly, the Mexican Revolution of (1910-1921). And we will examine social protests, such as the student movement that ended in the Tlatelolco Massacre of 1968, El Barzón, #YoSoy132, MORENA, APPO, the Ayotzinapa protests, and peasant ecology initiatives.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor R. Lopez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

342 Marxism and Revolution in Twentieth-Century Latin America

(Offered as HIST 342 [LA] and LLAS 342) With one significant exception, Latin America’s major revolutions have been led by groups espousing one of three main currents of Marxist thought: Marxism-Leninism (Stalinism), Trotskyism, and Maoism. In this course, the student will master the basics of those theories through the reading and analysis of their primary texts. We will then consider case studies of Marxist-inspired revolutions in Bolivia, Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, and Peru. With the aid of lectures and further readings, the student will critically evaluate, in a series of papers, how Marxist theories were applied in practice in twentieth-century Latin America. One class meeting per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2019

343 Comparative Borderlands: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Transnational Perspective

(Offered as SPAN 342, LLAS 343 and SWAG 343) “Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out,” Chicana feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldúa wrote in the hybrid text Borderlands/La Frontera. She was referring to, what she called, the linguistic imperialism of English in the US Southwest. And yet she also carved out a third space for those subjects at the crossroads of multiple ways of being – the queer and the abject. In this course, we will examine cultural and literary texts that speak to the ways that race, gender, and sexual identity are conditioned by the historical development of geopolitical borders. We will pay particular attention to the US-Mexico Borderlands but we will also examine other places in which “borderlands” of identity exist. Course conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

344 The Cuban Revolution, 1959–2009

(Offered as HIST 344 [LA] and LLAS 344) Sixty years after its triumph, the Cuban revolution continues to ignite controversy and to influence the politics of the Americas and beyond This course will provide an in-depth examination of the origins, course, development, and historical interpretations of the Cuban revolution over its first half-century. Its charismatic leader, Fidel Castro, will receive special attention, as will his closest collaborators: the honorary Cuban, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, and Fidel's younger brother, Raúl. Among many other topics to be explored are the revolution's turn to Marxism-Leninism and the Soviet bloc; its contentious relationship with the United States; the creation and construction of a Cuban socialism; Cuba's special relationship with Africa; and the perennial efforts of Cuban émigrés to overthrow the revolution. We will conclude by considering the revolution's prospects in a post-Soviet—and now post-Fidel—world.

Not offered 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

(Offered as HIST 345 [LA/TR/TS], LLAS 345, and SWAG 345) Popular mythologies of Latin America have historically relied on hyper-masculine archetypes, including the conquistador, the caudillo, and the guerrillero to explain the continent’s past, culture and political development. By contrast, students in this course will be asked to bring women, gender and sexuality from the margins to the center of Latin American history. In doing so, we will reevaluate four transformative historical moments: the Spanish conquest, the wars of independence, the emergence of industrial capitalism, and the proliferation of late twentieth-century political revolutions. Through an exploration of these key periods of upheaval we will assess how social conflict was frequently mediated through competing definitions of masculinity and femininity. In addition, this course will explore the ways in which women’s activism has been central to social and political movements across the continent. Furthermore, we will investigate how the domain of sexual practice and reproduction underpinned broader conflicts over racial purity, worker power, and the boundaries of citizenship in racially and ethnically diverse societies. The course will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered in 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

346 Indigenous Histories of Latin America

(Offered as HIST 346 [LA/TE/TR]  and LLAS 346) In this course, students will explore the cultures and civilizations of native peoples of Latin America from ancient times to the present.  Examining the Caribbean, Mesoamerican, Andean, and Amazonian regions, we will consider questions such as: What were the earliest cultures of the Americas like?  How did civilizations such as the Maya, the Aztecs, and the Inca confront the unprecedented challenges of the conquest?  How did indigenous peoples resist and forcibly adapt to centuries of Spanish and Portuguese colonialism?  What roles did native peoples  play in the new nations of the nineteenth century?  How have indigenous peoples pursued their own struggles for citizenship in the face of threats to their autonomy and the environment?  In a series of short writing assignments and a longer paper based on original research, students will explore secondary historiographies, analyze diverse primary sources, and discuss different historical methods in the study of the indigenous past and present. Two meetings per week.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

 
2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

357 Understanding Spanish Structure and Use

(Offered as SPAN 357 and LLAS 357) Spanish is the second-most widely spoken language in the world. With more than 400 million native speakers, it has official status in 21 countries. In the United States more than 40 million people use Spanish in their daily lives. What exactly is the Spanish language? What do you actually know when you speak Spanish? These questions are at the heart of this course. By following a bottom-up design—from smallest to largest segments of language—we will understand the basic characteristics of human language and will examine the architecture of the Spanish language: how its sounds are produced and how they combine; how its words are constructed from their component parts; how its sentences are formed; how its meanings are understood; and how its use reflects aspects of our socio-cultural behavior. As an approach to the formal study of the Spanish language, we will explore actual and diverse language data such as texts, speech samples, and songs to grasp complex linguistic phenomena. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: Spanish 202 or permission of instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Sánchez-Naranjo.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022

362 Childhood in African and Caribbean Literature

(Offered as ENGL 318, BLST 362 [A/CLA], and LLAS 362) The course will concentrate on Caribbean authors. It explores the process of self-definition in literary works from Africa and the Caribbean that are built around child protagonists. We will examine the authors’ various methods of ordering experience through the choice of literary form and narrative technique, as well as the child/author’s perception of his or her society. French texts will be read in translation.

Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Cobham-Sander.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2020

375 Amherst Latinx Lives

(Offered as AMST 375, LLAS 375, SOCI 375 and SPAN 375) Over the past four decades, the Latinx student population at Amherst has increased more than seven-fold, from about 30 students per class in the 1970s, to over 200 per class in the last several years. As a community, however, we know very little about the subjective experience of Latinxs who live, study, and work at Amherst College. In this course, we will read and discuss different genres of scholarship that focus on the Latinx experience—empirical research, fiction, memoirs, and films—before proceeding to a series of workshops on how to conduct oral history interviews. Students will then apply this theoretical and practical knowledge to an exploration of the experiences of Latinx students, alumni, faculty, and staff in our community. These interviews will form the basis of a collectively-edited documentary designed to encourage cross-cultural dialogues within and outside the Latinx community, and in the process, increase awareness of the diversity of Latinx lives on our campus. Students of all backgrounds are welcome, and knowledge of Spanish or Spanglish is useful but not required.

Admission with the consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-2022 Professors Schroeder Rodríguez and Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

451 Translation Roots of a US Literary Landscape

(Offered as SPAN 451 and LLAS 451) This course highlights literary connections between the United States and the Spanish-speaking world via translation. Through a study of texts from the late nineteenth century to the present, we will look at the role of translation in literary histories and current literary activities. We will examine how writers have translated in order to practice and enhance their creative writing. We will use translation as a way to access and analyze literary texts. We will also think about translation as professional and collaborative activities. We will study the work of José Martí (Cuba), Julia de Burgos (Puerto Rico), Silvina Ocampo (Argentina), Felipe Alfau (Catalonia-Spain), Salvador Dalí (Catalonia-Spain), Achy Obejas (Cuba), and Urayoán Noel (Puerto Rico), among others. In addition, we will explore ways of contributing with translational activities to our own literary landscape in the Amherst area by possibly collaborating with local institutions such as the Emily Dickinson Museum, the Eric Carle Museum, and the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or permission of the instructor.  Limited to 18 students. Fall Semester: Visiting Associate Professor Galasso.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

455 One Hundred Years of Solitude

(Offered as LLAS 455 and SPAN 455) A patient, detailed, Talmudic reading of Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpiece, Cien años de soledad, known as “the Bible of Latin America.” The course sets it in biographical, historical, and aesthetic context. Conducted in Spanish.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Stavans. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2018, Spring 2021

461 The Creole Imagination

(Offered as ENGL 491, BLST 461 [CLA], and LLAS 461) What would it mean to write in the language in which we dream? A language that we can hear, but cannot (yet) see? Is it possible to conceive a language outside the socio-symbolic order? And can one language subvert the codes and values of another? Questions like these have animated the creolité/nation language debate among Caribbean intellectuals since the mid-1970s, producing some of the most significant francophone and anglophone writing of the twentieth century. This course reads across philosophy, cultural theory, politics, and literature in order to consider the claims such works make for the Creole imagination. We will engage the theoretical and creative work of Édouard Glissant, Maryse Condé, Wilson Harris, Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, Patrick Chamoiseau, Jamaica Kincaid, and Edwidge Danticat. We also will consider how these writers transform some of the fundamental ideas of psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and critical historiography. At stake in our readings will be the various aesthetic and political aspects of postcolonial struggle–how to think outside the colonial architecture of language; how to contest and subvert what remains from history’s violence; and how to evaluate the claims to authenticity of creolized New World cultural forms.

Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Cobham-Sander.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2020

463 Research Seminar in the History of the Atlantic Slave Trade

(Offered as BLST 363 [CLA], HIST 463 [AF/TC/TE/TS/TR/P] and LLAS 463) In this course students will consult, analyze, and employ a variety of sources, including the accounts of missionaries, journals of slave traders, the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, and the few available slave narratives written by Africans. Students will be presented with the tools to write original research on topics including the involvement of Western African societies in the slave trade, the logistics of the Middle Passage, characteristics of the captives transported from Africa to the Americas, and the Africans' own experiences of the Middle Passage and adaptation to the slave régimes of the Americas. Students will write a series of short assignments leading up to a major research paper of 20-25 pages.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

485 Telenovelas

(Offered as SPAN 485 and LLAS 485) Arguably the most influential popular form of cultural expression in Latin America, a single episode of any prime-time telenovela is watched by more people than all the accumulated number of Spanish-language readers of One Hundred Years of Solitude over time. The course will explore the historical origin and development of telenovelas as well as various production techniques, the way scripts are shaped and actors are asked to perform, the role of music and other sounds, etc. Each country in the region has its own telenovela tradition. We will look at Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and the Spanish-language productions of Univisión and Telemundo in the United States, among others. But the main objective of the course will be to analyze the performative nature of emotions in telenovelas and also gender, class, and political tension on the small screen. And we will delve into the strategies various governments have used by means of telenovelas to control the population (“melodrama is the true opium of the masses,” said a prominent Mexican telenovela director), their use as educational devices, and the clash between telenovelas and fútbol in the region’s celebrity ecosystem. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Stavans.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499 Senior Honors

Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Related Courses

AMST-305 Gender, Migration and Power: Latinos in the Americas (Course not offered this year.)
ARHA-255 Latin American Art: Strategies and Tactics (Course not offered this year.)
BLST-201 Power and Resistance in the Black Atlantic (Course not offered this year.)
ENGL-491 The Creole Imagination (Course not offered this year.)
HIST-345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-248 Cuba: The Politics of Extremism (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-307 States of Extraction: Nature, Women, and World Politics (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-421 Indigenous World Politics (Course not offered this year.)
RELI-240 Religion on the Move: Religion and Migration in North America (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-330 Latin American Cinema (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-335 New Latin American Documentary (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-370 <em>Mare Nostrum</em>: The Caribbean as Idea and Invention (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-435 Puerto Rico: Diaspora Nation (Course not offered this year.)

Five College Programs & Certificates

Five College Programs & Certificates

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Latinx and Latin American Studies

Professors del Moral, R. López (Chair), Schmalzbauer*, and Schroeder Rodríguez; Associate Professor Lohse; Assistant Professors Barba, and Coranez Bolton*.

Affiliated Faculty: Professors Cobham-Sander‡, Corrales*, and Stavans; Associate Professors Arboleda, and Walker*; Assistant Professors Infante, Ravikumar*, Sanchez-Naranjo, and Vicario.

Latinx and Latin American Studies (LLAS) is an interdisciplinary major program designed for students interested in critically examining the diverse histories and cultures of Latin America, the Caribbean, and U.S. Latinxs. Students in the major gain breadth and depth of learning through courses in the humanities and the social sciences that situate these histories and cultures within local, national, regional, hemispheric, and global contexts over time, while practical experiences such as community projects and study abroad provide opportunities to apply this learning in transformative ways.

Major Program. Majoring in LLAS requires the completion of nine courses: seven courses as described below, plus two additional courses to be chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor.

  • one required course: LLAS 200: Major Debates in Latinx and Latin American Studies.
  • one course on U.S. Latinxs in any department.
  • one course on Latin America in any department.
  • one course on the Caribbean in any department.
  • two courses taught in one of the languages spoken in Latin America and the Caribbean, other than English. These courses may focus on the development of language skills, and/or they may be content courses on a subject relevant to the Major.
  • a research or methods seminar in any department, with completion of the written project on a topic relevant to LLAS. In order to ensure that the research will be on a topic relevant to LLAS, the research or methods seminar must be approved by both the Major advisor and the professor teaching the course.

LLAS majors may credit up to three courses from another major, provided they fall into one of the categories listed above. In addition, majors must have

  • a concentration with at least three courses in one of the following areas: U.S. Latinxs, Latin America, or the Caribbean.
  • at least two courses in the humanities and at least two in the social sciences.
  • coursework in at least three departments.
  • residency requirement: at least five of the nine courses must be taken at Amherst College.
  • Capstone Requirement: The capstone requirement will be met through a portfolio of work done in the Major, introduced by a reflective essay that addresses how the interdisciplinary nature of the coursework informs a question or topic of special interest to the student and his/her long-term plans. Students will publicly share these reflections during a LLAS Major Capstone Symposium.

Departmental Honors Program. Candidates for Latin Honors must complete a senior thesis. The work of the thesis may be creative or scholarly in nature. Interested candidates must apply and be accepted by the end of their third year, and must, in addition to the coursework described above, enroll in LLAS 498 and/or 499 during their senior year.

*On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-2021. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22. 
 
 

130 Latinx Religion

(Offered as RELI 130and LLAS 130) On the dawn of the quincentenary of the Protestant Reformation, the April 2013 cover story of Time Magazine heralded the “Latino Reformation.” After 500 years of religious contact, conflict, and conversions throughout the Americas, “Latino USA” is undergoing unprecedented religious transformations. Latinxs, now comprising the largest ethnic minority group in the United States, are largely responsible for the new expressions of Abrahamic religious traditions in the country. This course is a historical survey of the growing and diverse U.S. Latinx religious experiences. The chronology of the course will begin with pre-contact Indian religions and cultures, then follow with an examination of Iberian Catholic and Indian contact cultures, Catholic and Protestant migrations into the U.S., and the negotiation and representation of Latinx religious identities today.

Spring semester. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2022

135 Race and Religion in the U.S. West/Mexico Borderlands

(Offered as REL 135, AMST 231, HIST 135 and LLAS 135) One historian aptly described the U.S. West as “one of the greatest meeting places on the planet." The region is a site of cultural complexity where New Mexican Penitentes maintained a criminalized sacred order, an African American holiness preacher forged the global Pentecostal movement, Native Americans staked out legal definitions and practices of "religion," Asian immigrants built their first Buddhist and Sikh temples in the face of persecution, and dispossessed Dust Bowl migrants (in the spirit of the Joad family in John Steinbeck’s novel the Grapes of Wrath) arrived and imported no-nonsense southern Baptist and Pentecostal sensibilities. Until recently, standard surveys of religious history in North America have devoted minimal attention to the distinctive role of religion in the American West and the region's shifting border, having largely focused rather on religious history in the flow of events westward from Massachusetts’s Puritan establishment. In this historical survey, we examine the contours of religion by taking into account new "sights," "cites," and "sites" of race, class, and gender in order to deconstruct and reconstruct the larger incomplete meta-narrative. First-year students are especially welcome. No prerequisites are necessary. 

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22.  Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

140 Immigration and White Supremacy

(Offered as AMST 140 and LJST 140) While discussions of white supremacy are more common now than even a few years ago, the image of the United States as a nation of immigrants remains popular. How can we connect these two notions, that on the one hand the country was founded on and practices a settler colonialism and racial capitalism that privileges whites, with that on the other hand many immigrants of color are working towards their American Dream? Through sociological and historical texts, the course will interrogate what is behind immigration to the United States, including the nation’s imperial and neocolonial interventions abroad that have created the foundation for much displacement. The course also delves into how immigrants navigate racial hierarchies – sometimes successfully and sometimes not – across a variety of spaces, including education, the workplace, cultural discourse, and more. Attention will be given to various groups, including Asian Americans, Latinxs, and others. Students will have research and writing assessments.

Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professors del Moral and Dhingra.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

144 Contemporary Dance Technique: Salsa Performance and Culture

(Offered as THDA 144H and LLAS 144H) This class introduces students to beginner-level salsa technique. We will explore the New York Mambo style of salsa, the Caracas street style, as well as elements of the Cuban Casino style. Students will master variations of the salsa basic step, turns, connecting steps, and arm work. Although we will mostly focus on solo practice, we will learn some essential concepts of partnering work based on the principles of leading and following. Toward the end of the semester, students will be able to use the acquired salsa vocabulary as the basis for improvising and choreographing combinations.

Through the study of salsa’s history, political dimensions, lyrical content, and matrilineal legacy, students will develop an understanding of this artistic expression not only as a dance form or musical genre, but also as a unifying voice of resistance and liberation for Caribbean and Latino cultures. Students will be able to recognize the voices of some of the most iconic Salsa artists and appreciate the contributions of some of the most important female Cuban and Cuban-American performers. We will investigate the legacy of Celia Cruz, paying close attention to the design and performance elements that defined her as The Queen of Salsa. Class discussions and brief writing assignments will serve as opportunities to reflect upon readings, documentaries and other information that will expand our understanding of the form.

Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

186 Pre-Columbian Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 186 and LLAS 186) This course provides an introduction to the Pre-Columbian art and architecture of the Americas. It explores major traditions in architecture and city planning, murals, sculpture, painting, masks, and textiles. The first half of the semester concentrates on Preclassic and Classic Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America); the second on Postclassic Mesoamerica, North America, and the Andes.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Couch.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

200 Major Debates in Latinx and Latin American Studies

(Offered as LLAS 200 and AMST 206) In this course students will become familiar with the major debates that have animated Latinx and Latin American Studies, addressing a wide range of issues from the Conquest to the present. Each week students will focus on specific questions such as: Does Latin America have a common culture? Is Latin America part of the Western world? Is Latinx a race or an ethnicity? Is U.S. Latinx identity rooted in Latin America or the United States? Are Latin American nations post-colonial? Was the modern concept of race invented in the Caribbean at the time of the Conquest? The opposing viewpoints around such questions will provide the main focus of the reading assignments, which will average two or three articles per week. In the first four weeks, students will learn a methodology for analyzing, contextualizing, and making arguments that they will apply in developing their own positions in the specific controversies that will make up the rest of the course.

Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Schroeder Rodriguez. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

201 Power and Resistance in the Black Atlantic

(Offered as BLST 201 [D] HIST 267 [AF/LA/TEp/TR] and LLAS 201) The formation of "the Black Atlantic" or "the African Diaspora" began with the earliest moments of European explorations of the West African coast in the fifteenth century and ended with the abolition of Brazilian slavery in 1888. This momentous historical event irrevocably reshaped the modern world. This course will trace the history of this transformation at two levels; first, we examine large scale historical processes including the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the development of plantation economies, and the birth of liberal democracy. With these sweeping stories as our backdrop, we will also explore the lives of individual Africans and African-Americans, the communities they built, and the cultures they created. We will consider the diversity of the Black Atlantic by examining the lives of a broad array of individuals, including black intellectuals, statesmen, soldiers, religious leaders, healers and rebels. Furthermore, we will pay special attention to trans-Atlantic historical formations common during this period, especially the contributions of Africans and their descendants to Atlantic cultures, societies, and ideas, ultimately understanding enslaved people as creative (rather than reactive) agents of history. So, our questions will be: What is the Black Atlantic? How can we understand both the commonalities and diversity of the experiences of Africans in the Diaspora? What kinds of communities, affinities, and identities did Africans create after being uprooted by the slave trade? What methods do scholars use to understand this history? And finally, what is the modern legacy of the Black Atlantic? Class time will be divided between lecture, small and large group discussion.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hicks.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

204 Housing, Urbanization, and Development

(Offered as ARCH 204, ARHA 204, and LLAS 204) This course studies the theory, policy, and practice of low-income housing in marginalized communities worldwide. We study central concepts in housing theory, key issues regarding low-income housing, different approaches to address these issues, and political debates around housing the poor. We use a comparative focus, going back and forth between the cases of the United States and the so-called developing world. By doing this, we engage in a “theory from without” exercise: We attempt to understand the housing problem in the United States from the perspective of the developing world, and vice versa. We study our subject through illustrated lectures, seminar discussions, documentary films, visual analysis exercises, and a field trip.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

205 Finding Your Bilingual Voice

(Offered as SPAN 205 and LLAS 205) Heritage learners of Spanish are students who have grown up speaking, listening, reading and/or writing Spanish with family or in their community. Because of their unique backgrounds, Spanish heritage language learners (SHLLs) are bilingual and bicultural. They function between a Hispanic and an American identity. This fluid and multiple identity can bring challenges, as SHLLs try to fit into both groups. With this in mind, through meaningful activities that focus on students’ experiences and emotions, this Spanish language course will center on bilingualism, specifically through writing, as a necessary means for identity formation. Because in narrating our stories with others, we enact our identities, this course will connect students with the bilingual community in Amherst or Holyoke. Through this course, students will incorporate their personal experience as SHLLs into their coursework. Activities will foster critical thinking, and students will learn to analyze, read, discuss, write, and reflect on issues of language, culture, and identity. Using a student-centered approach, the course will include collaborative brainstorming, free-writing, developing topics of personal importance, and peer and group editing in order to develop students’ writing proficiency and to build community.

This course prepares Spanish heritage language students for advanced-level courses offered by the Spanish Department. Limited to 18 students per section. This course may be counted toward the Spanish Major. The class will be conducted entirely in Spanish, though some assignments can be submitted in English. Prerequisite: SPAN 201, SPAN 202 or placement exam.

Consent Required (students must identify as Spanish heritage language students). Spring Semester. Senior Lecturer Granda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

225 Latin American Literature in Translation

A joyful introduction to modern Latin American literary classics in translation through the works of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, Julio Cortazar, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Roberto Bolano, Clarise Lispector, and others. The discussion-driven classes will focus on aesthetic movements like Magical Realism as well as on the development of national identity, mestizaje, civil unrest, racial and gender relations, humor, translation, and the opposition between Europeanized and indigenous worldviews. Students will delve into canonical poems, stories, essays, and short novels from the seventeenth century to the present that have reshaped the international scene. Language: English. 

Limited to 40 students. January term. Professor Stavans. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in January 2022, Spring 2022

226 Theorizing the Black Queer Americas

(Offered as BLST 226[D], LLAS 226 and SWAG 226) This course focuses on Black Queer and Trans life and struggle as well as the cultural and intellectual contributions Black Queer and Trans have made to in numerous fields throughout the Americas (North and South). While for many years narratives of the lives of Black LGBTQ people have been silenced and erased due to stigma and intersectional oppression on the basis of race, gender, and sexuality, scholars and artists in the past four decades have worked to recover the stories of Black Queer and Trans communities throughout the diaspora. The Black Queer/Trans Americas will dive into works that highlight these cultural contributions, while also understanding the compounded systemic violence that Black LGBTQ communities have faced and continue to face. By the end of this course students will have a strong understanding of how systems of power work to restrict the freedoms of Black Queer and Trans communities, and how Black LGBTQ people have lived, organized, and created in spite of and in response to these oppressions. This interdisciplinary undergraduate upper level course will utilize academic texts accompanied by poetry, fiction, film, television, and visual art to understand Black Queer and Trans subjectivities. In addition to course materials, the class will also make use of presentations from local artists, activists, and community members in the local area to add to the course experience. Every week will focus on a different theme or field of study related to Black LGBTQ+ life. 

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Poe.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

234 The Sanctuary Movement: Religion, Activism, and Social Contestation

(Offered as REL 234, AMST 234 and LLAS 234) From sanctuary cities and states to sanctuary campuses and churches, declarations of sanctuary sites have swept the nation in recent years. The U.S. Sanctuary Movement, established in 1982 to harbor Central American asylum seekers fleeing civil wars, has today assumed broader social implementations in the New Sanctuary Movement. Beginning with an examination of antecedents to the U.S. Sanctuary Movement in global contexts, this course will offer students an in-depth study of the Sanctuary Movement since the 1980s with special attention to the New Sanctuary Movement which is active today throughout the country.  

No prerequisites necessary. Limited to 20 students. 

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021

240 Religion on the Move: Religion and Migration in North America

(Offered as RELI 240 and LLAS 240) Little Syria in Manhattan, Crypto-Jewish homes in New Mexico, colonias Mormonas in northern Mexico, a Gurdwara deep in the crop-combed fields of California, and Detroit’s New Bethel Baptist Church (the vocal antechamber of Aretha Franklin’s #1 hit you might know as “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”) seem to have little in common. However, a historical examination of such sites reveals that they share basic social building blocks, shaped under similar push and pull factors. This course is concerned with the ways in which migrant groups have altered the religious landscape of North America and how they innovatively reproduce practices from their places of origin. Our main focus will be on the ramifications of religious movement within the U.S.; however, we will also explore migrations that have shaped the continent. Crossing into the U.S. from the eastern seaboard, the Pacific Rim, and the southern border with Mexico, migrants bring their new ways of creating sacred space and negotiating religious life. We will seek to understand the multifaceted relationships between religion and migration. How have migrants negotiated the role of religion in their private and public lives? What have been the social consequences pertaining to gender, praxis, politics, and respectability? The course takes into account migrations prior to the twentieth century in order to understand regional cultures within the U.S. Additionally, case studies in this course will draw heavily from the third wave of American immigration, characterized by twentieth-century “internal migrations” of African Americans, Latinas/os, Native Americans, and rural dwellers into the urban environments. We will conclude by examining the ways in which forces of modern globalization have changed the nature of religious diversity in the U.S. We will extensively compare migrant cultures as we interrogate power and privilege pertaining to race and religion. The cultural production of these migrant groups under study will bring to the class an empathetic understanding of diverse cultures and their forms of belonging.

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020

248 Cuba: The Politics of Extremism

(Offered as POSC 248 and LLAS 248) The study of Cuba’s politics presents opportunities to address issues of universal concern to social scientists and humanists in general, not just Latin Americanists. When is it rational to be radical? Why has Cuban politics forced so many individuals to adopt extreme positions? What are the causes of radical revolutions? Is pre-revolutionary Cuba a case of too little development, uneven development or too rapid development? What is the role of leaders: Do they make history, are they the product of history, or are they the makers of unintended histories? Was the revolution inevitable? Was it necessary? How are new (radical) states constructed? What is the role of foreign actors, existing political institutions, ethnicity, nationalism, religion and sexuality in this process? How does a small nation manage to become influential in world affairs, even altering the behavior of superpowers? What are the conditions that account for the survival of authoritarianism? To what extent is the revolution capable of self-reform? Is the current intention of state leaders of pursuing closed politics with open economics viable? What are the most effective mechanisms to change the regime? Why does the embargo survive? Why did Cubans (at home and abroad) care about Elián González? Although the readings will be mostly from social scientists, the course also includes selections from primary sources, literary works and films (of Cuban and non-Cuban origin). As with almost everything in politics, there are more than just two sides to the issue of Cuba. One aim of the course is to expose the students to as many different sides as possible.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Corrales.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Fall 2019

261 History of Central America

(Offered as HIST 261 [LA/TC/TE/TR/TS] and LLAS 261) In this course, students will gain an understanding of major events and themes in the histories of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. As important, they will think and write critically about the contentious history of the region. For good reason, Central America is often considered as a whole, but despite many commonalities, each country's history is unique. How did the indigenous cultures of northern Central America compare to those of the south? Why did the once-united Federation of Central America fracture into five different states? How did Honduras become the quintessential "banana republic"? Why did Guatemala suffer decades of military dictatorships, while Costa Rica abolished its military at the same time? Through lectures and readings, we will answer these questions as we address topics including precolonial indigenous cultures; the conquest, slavery, and encomienda; independence and the struggles of nation-building; foreign interventions; and reforms, revolutions, and counterrevolutions. Two class meetings per week.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

262 Latin America and the United States

(Offered as HIST 262 [LA/TE] and LLAS 262) In this course, students will gain an understanding of major events and themes in the history of United States foreign policy toward Latin America from colonial times to the present.  As important, they will think and write critically about the contentious history of U.S.-Latin American relations.  Just a few of the many topics to be addressed are the Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. invasion of Mexico, the construction of the Panama Canal, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and the Iran-Contra Scandal.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020

263 Struggles for Democracy in Modern Latin America, 1820 to the Present

(Offered as HIST 263 [LA/TE/TR/TS] and LLAS 263) Latin Americans began their struggle for democracy during the independence wars at the start of the nineteenth century. Their struggle continues today. This course considers the historical meanings of democracy in various Latin American countries, with particular attention to the relationship between liberalism and democracy in the nineteenth century; the broadening of democracy at the start of the twentieth century; the rise and fall of military dictatorships in the 1960s–1980s and their impact upon civil society; and the current clashes between neo-liberal economic programs and the neo-populist resurgence of the left. Readings and discussions will focus on the ways broad economic and political shifts impacted individuals' lives; how each economic class experienced these shifts differently; the way race and gender have shaped peoples' experience with democratization and repression; and the personal processes of radicalization by which individuals became inspired to take risks in their struggle for inclusion and against repression. Because the approach is thematic and chronological, some countries and regions will receive more attention than others. Meetings and readings will draw on secondary studies, historical documents, testimonials, music, images, and film. Two meetings per week.

Spring Semester. Professor López.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

264 Introduction to Latin America: Conquest, Colonization and Rebellion

(Offered as HIST 264 [LA/TC/TE/TR/P] and LLAS 264)  Over the course of three centuries, massive migrations from Europe and Africa and the dramatic decline of indigenous populations in South and Central America radically transformed the cultural, political, economic, and material landscape of what we today know as Latin America. This course will investigate the dynamism of Latin American societies beginning in the ancient or pre-conquest period and ending with the collapse of European rule in most Spanish, Portuguese, and French speaking territories in the New World. We will explore this history through the eyes of various historical actors, including politicians, explorers, noble men and women, indigenous intellectuals, and African slaves. In addition to interrogating the myriad of peaceable and creative cross-cultural exchanges and interactions that characterized the relationship between these groups, we will also explore how conflict, exploitation, and natural disaster shaped the Colonial Latin American experience. Through a mixture of lecture, small and large group activities, and analysis of primary and secondary sources we will also consider how historians understand the past as well as the foundational debates which shape our current interpretations of colonial Latin American history. Two class meetings per week.

Fall semester. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

301 Literature and Culture of the Hispanic World

(Offered as SPAN 301 and LLAS 301) This course provides an introduction to the diverse literatures and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world over the course of six centuries, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. Students will learn the tools, language, and critical vocabulary for advanced work reading the canon of Hispanic literatures from Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean Basin, identifying aesthetic trends, historical periods and diverse genres such as poetry, narrative, theater and film. The syllabus will include a wide variety of authors of different national, political, and artistic persuasions and an array of linguistic styles. This course prepares students for advanced work in Spanish and for study abroad.

Requisite SPAN 202 or Spanish Placement Exam. Proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Spanish are required. Limited to 20 students per section. Fall semester: Visiting Professor Porter.  Spring semester: Professor Brenneis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

341 Mexican Rebels 

(Offered as LLAS 341 and HIST 341 [LA/TE/TR/TS]) What inspires individuals to risk everything to try to change their world? Students will attempt to answer this question through cases ranging from personal acts of rebellion, to social movements and armed conflict. The course pays close attention to personal acts of rebellion against repressive racial, political, and gender structures, focusing on such figures as Hernán Córtes’s legendary consort La Malinche (Malintzin Tenepal), the seventeenth-century protofeminist Sor Juana Inéz de la Cruz, the transgender revolutionary general Amelia/o Robles Ávila, and the artists Gerardo Murillo, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. We also will address armed conflicts such as the Tlaxcalan war against the Aztec Empire, the Wars of Independence (1810-1821), the Maya uprising against white domination in the second half of the nineteenth century, guerrilla resistance against US and French invasions in the 1840s and 1860s, the War of Reform (1857-1860), the Cristero War (1926-1929), the Zapatista uprising of the 1990s, and, most importantly, the Mexican Revolution of (1910-1921). And we will examine social protests, such as the student movement that ended in the Tlatelolco Massacre of 1968, El Barzón, #YoSoy132, MORENA, APPO, the Ayotzinapa protests, and peasant ecology initiatives.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor R. Lopez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

342 Marxism and Revolution in Twentieth-Century Latin America

(Offered as HIST 342 [LA] and LLAS 342) With one significant exception, Latin America’s major revolutions have been led by groups espousing one of three main currents of Marxist thought: Marxism-Leninism (Stalinism), Trotskyism, and Maoism. In this course, the student will master the basics of those theories through the reading and analysis of their primary texts. We will then consider case studies of Marxist-inspired revolutions in Bolivia, Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, and Peru. With the aid of lectures and further readings, the student will critically evaluate, in a series of papers, how Marxist theories were applied in practice in twentieth-century Latin America. One class meeting per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2019

343 Comparative Borderlands: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Transnational Perspective

(Offered as SPAN 342, LLAS 343 and SWAG 343) “Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out,” Chicana feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldúa wrote in the hybrid text Borderlands/La Frontera. She was referring to, what she called, the linguistic imperialism of English in the US Southwest. And yet she also carved out a third space for those subjects at the crossroads of multiple ways of being – the queer and the abject. In this course, we will examine cultural and literary texts that speak to the ways that race, gender, and sexual identity are conditioned by the historical development of geopolitical borders. We will pay particular attention to the US-Mexico Borderlands but we will also examine other places in which “borderlands” of identity exist. Course conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

344 The Cuban Revolution, 1959–2009

(Offered as HIST 344 [LA] and LLAS 344) Sixty years after its triumph, the Cuban revolution continues to ignite controversy and to influence the politics of the Americas and beyond This course will provide an in-depth examination of the origins, course, development, and historical interpretations of the Cuban revolution over its first half-century. Its charismatic leader, Fidel Castro, will receive special attention, as will his closest collaborators: the honorary Cuban, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, and Fidel's younger brother, Raúl. Among many other topics to be explored are the revolution's turn to Marxism-Leninism and the Soviet bloc; its contentious relationship with the United States; the creation and construction of a Cuban socialism; Cuba's special relationship with Africa; and the perennial efforts of Cuban émigrés to overthrow the revolution. We will conclude by considering the revolution's prospects in a post-Soviet—and now post-Fidel—world.

Not offered 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

(Offered as HIST 345 [LA/TR/TS], LLAS 345, and SWAG 345) Popular mythologies of Latin America have historically relied on hyper-masculine archetypes, including the conquistador, the caudillo, and the guerrillero to explain the continent’s past, culture and political development. By contrast, students in this course will be asked to bring women, gender and sexuality from the margins to the center of Latin American history. In doing so, we will reevaluate four transformative historical moments: the Spanish conquest, the wars of independence, the emergence of industrial capitalism, and the proliferation of late twentieth-century political revolutions. Through an exploration of these key periods of upheaval we will assess how social conflict was frequently mediated through competing definitions of masculinity and femininity. In addition, this course will explore the ways in which women’s activism has been central to social and political movements across the continent. Furthermore, we will investigate how the domain of sexual practice and reproduction underpinned broader conflicts over racial purity, worker power, and the boundaries of citizenship in racially and ethnically diverse societies. The course will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered in 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

346 Indigenous Histories of Latin America

(Offered as HIST 346 [LA/TE/TR]  and LLAS 346) In this course, students will explore the cultures and civilizations of native peoples of Latin America from ancient times to the present.  Examining the Caribbean, Mesoamerican, Andean, and Amazonian regions, we will consider questions such as: What were the earliest cultures of the Americas like?  How did civilizations such as the Maya, the Aztecs, and the Inca confront the unprecedented challenges of the conquest?  How did indigenous peoples resist and forcibly adapt to centuries of Spanish and Portuguese colonialism?  What roles did native peoples  play in the new nations of the nineteenth century?  How have indigenous peoples pursued their own struggles for citizenship in the face of threats to their autonomy and the environment?  In a series of short writing assignments and a longer paper based on original research, students will explore secondary historiographies, analyze diverse primary sources, and discuss different historical methods in the study of the indigenous past and present. Two meetings per week.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

 
2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

357 Understanding Spanish Structure and Use

(Offered as SPAN 357 and LLAS 357) Spanish is the second-most widely spoken language in the world. With more than 400 million native speakers, it has official status in 21 countries. In the United States more than 40 million people use Spanish in their daily lives. What exactly is the Spanish language? What do you actually know when you speak Spanish? These questions are at the heart of this course. By following a bottom-up design—from smallest to largest segments of language—we will understand the basic characteristics of human language and will examine the architecture of the Spanish language: how its sounds are produced and how they combine; how its words are constructed from their component parts; how its sentences are formed; how its meanings are understood; and how its use reflects aspects of our socio-cultural behavior. As an approach to the formal study of the Spanish language, we will explore actual and diverse language data such as texts, speech samples, and songs to grasp complex linguistic phenomena. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: Spanish 202 or permission of instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Sánchez-Naranjo.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022

362 Childhood in African and Caribbean Literature

(Offered as ENGL 318, BLST 362 [A/CLA], and LLAS 362) The course will concentrate on Caribbean authors. It explores the process of self-definition in literary works from Africa and the Caribbean that are built around child protagonists. We will examine the authors’ various methods of ordering experience through the choice of literary form and narrative technique, as well as the child/author’s perception of his or her society. French texts will be read in translation.

Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Cobham-Sander.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2020

375 Amherst Latinx Lives

(Offered as AMST 375, LLAS 375, SOCI 375 and SPAN 375) Over the past four decades, the Latinx student population at Amherst has increased more than seven-fold, from about 30 students per class in the 1970s, to over 200 per class in the last several years. As a community, however, we know very little about the subjective experience of Latinxs who live, study, and work at Amherst College. In this course, we will read and discuss different genres of scholarship that focus on the Latinx experience—empirical research, fiction, memoirs, and films—before proceeding to a series of workshops on how to conduct oral history interviews. Students will then apply this theoretical and practical knowledge to an exploration of the experiences of Latinx students, alumni, faculty, and staff in our community. These interviews will form the basis of a collectively-edited documentary designed to encourage cross-cultural dialogues within and outside the Latinx community, and in the process, increase awareness of the diversity of Latinx lives on our campus. Students of all backgrounds are welcome, and knowledge of Spanish or Spanglish is useful but not required.

Admission with the consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-2022 Professors Schroeder Rodríguez and Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

451 Translation Roots of a US Literary Landscape

(Offered as SPAN 451 and LLAS 451) This course highlights literary connections between the United States and the Spanish-speaking world via translation. Through a study of texts from the late nineteenth century to the present, we will look at the role of translation in literary histories and current literary activities. We will examine how writers have translated in order to practice and enhance their creative writing. We will use translation as a way to access and analyze literary texts. We will also think about translation as professional and collaborative activities. We will study the work of José Martí (Cuba), Julia de Burgos (Puerto Rico), Silvina Ocampo (Argentina), Felipe Alfau (Catalonia-Spain), Salvador Dalí (Catalonia-Spain), Achy Obejas (Cuba), and Urayoán Noel (Puerto Rico), among others. In addition, we will explore ways of contributing with translational activities to our own literary landscape in the Amherst area by possibly collaborating with local institutions such as the Emily Dickinson Museum, the Eric Carle Museum, and the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or permission of the instructor.  Limited to 18 students. Fall Semester: Visiting Associate Professor Galasso.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

455 One Hundred Years of Solitude

(Offered as LLAS 455 and SPAN 455) A patient, detailed, Talmudic reading of Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpiece, Cien años de soledad, known as “the Bible of Latin America.” The course sets it in biographical, historical, and aesthetic context. Conducted in Spanish.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Stavans. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2018, Spring 2021

461 The Creole Imagination

(Offered as ENGL 491, BLST 461 [CLA], and LLAS 461) What would it mean to write in the language in which we dream? A language that we can hear, but cannot (yet) see? Is it possible to conceive a language outside the socio-symbolic order? And can one language subvert the codes and values of another? Questions like these have animated the creolité/nation language debate among Caribbean intellectuals since the mid-1970s, producing some of the most significant francophone and anglophone writing of the twentieth century. This course reads across philosophy, cultural theory, politics, and literature in order to consider the claims such works make for the Creole imagination. We will engage the theoretical and creative work of Édouard Glissant, Maryse Condé, Wilson Harris, Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, Patrick Chamoiseau, Jamaica Kincaid, and Edwidge Danticat. We also will consider how these writers transform some of the fundamental ideas of psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and critical historiography. At stake in our readings will be the various aesthetic and political aspects of postcolonial struggle–how to think outside the colonial architecture of language; how to contest and subvert what remains from history’s violence; and how to evaluate the claims to authenticity of creolized New World cultural forms.

Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Cobham-Sander.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2020

463 Research Seminar in the History of the Atlantic Slave Trade

(Offered as BLST 363 [CLA], HIST 463 [AF/TC/TE/TS/TR/P] and LLAS 463) In this course students will consult, analyze, and employ a variety of sources, including the accounts of missionaries, journals of slave traders, the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, and the few available slave narratives written by Africans. Students will be presented with the tools to write original research on topics including the involvement of Western African societies in the slave trade, the logistics of the Middle Passage, characteristics of the captives transported from Africa to the Americas, and the Africans' own experiences of the Middle Passage and adaptation to the slave régimes of the Americas. Students will write a series of short assignments leading up to a major research paper of 20-25 pages.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

485 Telenovelas

(Offered as SPAN 485 and LLAS 485) Arguably the most influential popular form of cultural expression in Latin America, a single episode of any prime-time telenovela is watched by more people than all the accumulated number of Spanish-language readers of One Hundred Years of Solitude over time. The course will explore the historical origin and development of telenovelas as well as various production techniques, the way scripts are shaped and actors are asked to perform, the role of music and other sounds, etc. Each country in the region has its own telenovela tradition. We will look at Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and the Spanish-language productions of Univisión and Telemundo in the United States, among others. But the main objective of the course will be to analyze the performative nature of emotions in telenovelas and also gender, class, and political tension on the small screen. And we will delve into the strategies various governments have used by means of telenovelas to control the population (“melodrama is the true opium of the masses,” said a prominent Mexican telenovela director), their use as educational devices, and the clash between telenovelas and fútbol in the region’s celebrity ecosystem. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Stavans.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499 Senior Honors

Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Related Courses

AMST-305 Gender, Migration and Power: Latinos in the Americas (Course not offered this year.)
ARHA-255 Latin American Art: Strategies and Tactics (Course not offered this year.)
BLST-201 Power and Resistance in the Black Atlantic (Course not offered this year.)
ENGL-491 The Creole Imagination (Course not offered this year.)
HIST-345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-248 Cuba: The Politics of Extremism (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-307 States of Extraction: Nature, Women, and World Politics (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-421 Indigenous World Politics (Course not offered this year.)
RELI-240 Religion on the Move: Religion and Migration in North America (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-330 Latin American Cinema (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-335 New Latin American Documentary (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-370 <em>Mare Nostrum</em>: The Caribbean as Idea and Invention (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-435 Puerto Rico: Diaspora Nation (Course not offered this year.)

Honors & Fellowships

Honors & Fellowships

Back

Latinx and Latin American Studies

Professors del Moral, R. López (Chair), Schmalzbauer*, and Schroeder Rodríguez; Associate Professor Lohse; Assistant Professors Barba, and Coranez Bolton*.

Affiliated Faculty: Professors Cobham-Sander‡, Corrales*, and Stavans; Associate Professors Arboleda, and Walker*; Assistant Professors Infante, Ravikumar*, Sanchez-Naranjo, and Vicario.

Latinx and Latin American Studies (LLAS) is an interdisciplinary major program designed for students interested in critically examining the diverse histories and cultures of Latin America, the Caribbean, and U.S. Latinxs. Students in the major gain breadth and depth of learning through courses in the humanities and the social sciences that situate these histories and cultures within local, national, regional, hemispheric, and global contexts over time, while practical experiences such as community projects and study abroad provide opportunities to apply this learning in transformative ways.

Major Program. Majoring in LLAS requires the completion of nine courses: seven courses as described below, plus two additional courses to be chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor.

  • one required course: LLAS 200: Major Debates in Latinx and Latin American Studies.
  • one course on U.S. Latinxs in any department.
  • one course on Latin America in any department.
  • one course on the Caribbean in any department.
  • two courses taught in one of the languages spoken in Latin America and the Caribbean, other than English. These courses may focus on the development of language skills, and/or they may be content courses on a subject relevant to the Major.
  • a research or methods seminar in any department, with completion of the written project on a topic relevant to LLAS. In order to ensure that the research will be on a topic relevant to LLAS, the research or methods seminar must be approved by both the Major advisor and the professor teaching the course.

LLAS majors may credit up to three courses from another major, provided they fall into one of the categories listed above. In addition, majors must have

  • a concentration with at least three courses in one of the following areas: U.S. Latinxs, Latin America, or the Caribbean.
  • at least two courses in the humanities and at least two in the social sciences.
  • coursework in at least three departments.
  • residency requirement: at least five of the nine courses must be taken at Amherst College.
  • Capstone Requirement: The capstone requirement will be met through a portfolio of work done in the Major, introduced by a reflective essay that addresses how the interdisciplinary nature of the coursework informs a question or topic of special interest to the student and his/her long-term plans. Students will publicly share these reflections during a LLAS Major Capstone Symposium.

Departmental Honors Program. Candidates for Latin Honors must complete a senior thesis. The work of the thesis may be creative or scholarly in nature. Interested candidates must apply and be accepted by the end of their third year, and must, in addition to the coursework described above, enroll in LLAS 498 and/or 499 during their senior year.

*On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-2021. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22. 
 
 

130 Latinx Religion

(Offered as RELI 130and LLAS 130) On the dawn of the quincentenary of the Protestant Reformation, the April 2013 cover story of Time Magazine heralded the “Latino Reformation.” After 500 years of religious contact, conflict, and conversions throughout the Americas, “Latino USA” is undergoing unprecedented religious transformations. Latinxs, now comprising the largest ethnic minority group in the United States, are largely responsible for the new expressions of Abrahamic religious traditions in the country. This course is a historical survey of the growing and diverse U.S. Latinx religious experiences. The chronology of the course will begin with pre-contact Indian religions and cultures, then follow with an examination of Iberian Catholic and Indian contact cultures, Catholic and Protestant migrations into the U.S., and the negotiation and representation of Latinx religious identities today.

Spring semester. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2022

135 Race and Religion in the U.S. West/Mexico Borderlands

(Offered as REL 135, AMST 231, HIST 135 and LLAS 135) One historian aptly described the U.S. West as “one of the greatest meeting places on the planet." The region is a site of cultural complexity where New Mexican Penitentes maintained a criminalized sacred order, an African American holiness preacher forged the global Pentecostal movement, Native Americans staked out legal definitions and practices of "religion," Asian immigrants built their first Buddhist and Sikh temples in the face of persecution, and dispossessed Dust Bowl migrants (in the spirit of the Joad family in John Steinbeck’s novel the Grapes of Wrath) arrived and imported no-nonsense southern Baptist and Pentecostal sensibilities. Until recently, standard surveys of religious history in North America have devoted minimal attention to the distinctive role of religion in the American West and the region's shifting border, having largely focused rather on religious history in the flow of events westward from Massachusetts’s Puritan establishment. In this historical survey, we examine the contours of religion by taking into account new "sights," "cites," and "sites" of race, class, and gender in order to deconstruct and reconstruct the larger incomplete meta-narrative. First-year students are especially welcome. No prerequisites are necessary. 

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22.  Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

140 Immigration and White Supremacy

(Offered as AMST 140 and LJST 140) While discussions of white supremacy are more common now than even a few years ago, the image of the United States as a nation of immigrants remains popular. How can we connect these two notions, that on the one hand the country was founded on and practices a settler colonialism and racial capitalism that privileges whites, with that on the other hand many immigrants of color are working towards their American Dream? Through sociological and historical texts, the course will interrogate what is behind immigration to the United States, including the nation’s imperial and neocolonial interventions abroad that have created the foundation for much displacement. The course also delves into how immigrants navigate racial hierarchies – sometimes successfully and sometimes not – across a variety of spaces, including education, the workplace, cultural discourse, and more. Attention will be given to various groups, including Asian Americans, Latinxs, and others. Students will have research and writing assessments.

Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professors del Moral and Dhingra.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

144 Contemporary Dance Technique: Salsa Performance and Culture

(Offered as THDA 144H and LLAS 144H) This class introduces students to beginner-level salsa technique. We will explore the New York Mambo style of salsa, the Caracas street style, as well as elements of the Cuban Casino style. Students will master variations of the salsa basic step, turns, connecting steps, and arm work. Although we will mostly focus on solo practice, we will learn some essential concepts of partnering work based on the principles of leading and following. Toward the end of the semester, students will be able to use the acquired salsa vocabulary as the basis for improvising and choreographing combinations.

Through the study of salsa’s history, political dimensions, lyrical content, and matrilineal legacy, students will develop an understanding of this artistic expression not only as a dance form or musical genre, but also as a unifying voice of resistance and liberation for Caribbean and Latino cultures. Students will be able to recognize the voices of some of the most iconic Salsa artists and appreciate the contributions of some of the most important female Cuban and Cuban-American performers. We will investigate the legacy of Celia Cruz, paying close attention to the design and performance elements that defined her as The Queen of Salsa. Class discussions and brief writing assignments will serve as opportunities to reflect upon readings, documentaries and other information that will expand our understanding of the form.

Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

186 Pre-Columbian Art and Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 186 and LLAS 186) This course provides an introduction to the Pre-Columbian art and architecture of the Americas. It explores major traditions in architecture and city planning, murals, sculpture, painting, masks, and textiles. The first half of the semester concentrates on Preclassic and Classic Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America); the second on Postclassic Mesoamerica, North America, and the Andes.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Couch.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

200 Major Debates in Latinx and Latin American Studies

(Offered as LLAS 200 and AMST 206) In this course students will become familiar with the major debates that have animated Latinx and Latin American Studies, addressing a wide range of issues from the Conquest to the present. Each week students will focus on specific questions such as: Does Latin America have a common culture? Is Latin America part of the Western world? Is Latinx a race or an ethnicity? Is U.S. Latinx identity rooted in Latin America or the United States? Are Latin American nations post-colonial? Was the modern concept of race invented in the Caribbean at the time of the Conquest? The opposing viewpoints around such questions will provide the main focus of the reading assignments, which will average two or three articles per week. In the first four weeks, students will learn a methodology for analyzing, contextualizing, and making arguments that they will apply in developing their own positions in the specific controversies that will make up the rest of the course.

Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Schroeder Rodriguez. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

201 Power and Resistance in the Black Atlantic

(Offered as BLST 201 [D] HIST 267 [AF/LA/TEp/TR] and LLAS 201) The formation of "the Black Atlantic" or "the African Diaspora" began with the earliest moments of European explorations of the West African coast in the fifteenth century and ended with the abolition of Brazilian slavery in 1888. This momentous historical event irrevocably reshaped the modern world. This course will trace the history of this transformation at two levels; first, we examine large scale historical processes including the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the development of plantation economies, and the birth of liberal democracy. With these sweeping stories as our backdrop, we will also explore the lives of individual Africans and African-Americans, the communities they built, and the cultures they created. We will consider the diversity of the Black Atlantic by examining the lives of a broad array of individuals, including black intellectuals, statesmen, soldiers, religious leaders, healers and rebels. Furthermore, we will pay special attention to trans-Atlantic historical formations common during this period, especially the contributions of Africans and their descendants to Atlantic cultures, societies, and ideas, ultimately understanding enslaved people as creative (rather than reactive) agents of history. So, our questions will be: What is the Black Atlantic? How can we understand both the commonalities and diversity of the experiences of Africans in the Diaspora? What kinds of communities, affinities, and identities did Africans create after being uprooted by the slave trade? What methods do scholars use to understand this history? And finally, what is the modern legacy of the Black Atlantic? Class time will be divided between lecture, small and large group discussion.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Hicks.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

204 Housing, Urbanization, and Development

(Offered as ARCH 204, ARHA 204, and LLAS 204) This course studies the theory, policy, and practice of low-income housing in marginalized communities worldwide. We study central concepts in housing theory, key issues regarding low-income housing, different approaches to address these issues, and political debates around housing the poor. We use a comparative focus, going back and forth between the cases of the United States and the so-called developing world. By doing this, we engage in a “theory from without” exercise: We attempt to understand the housing problem in the United States from the perspective of the developing world, and vice versa. We study our subject through illustrated lectures, seminar discussions, documentary films, visual analysis exercises, and a field trip.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

205 Finding Your Bilingual Voice

(Offered as SPAN 205 and LLAS 205) Heritage learners of Spanish are students who have grown up speaking, listening, reading and/or writing Spanish with family or in their community. Because of their unique backgrounds, Spanish heritage language learners (SHLLs) are bilingual and bicultural. They function between a Hispanic and an American identity. This fluid and multiple identity can bring challenges, as SHLLs try to fit into both groups. With this in mind, through meaningful activities that focus on students’ experiences and emotions, this Spanish language course will center on bilingualism, specifically through writing, as a necessary means for identity formation. Because in narrating our stories with others, we enact our identities, this course will connect students with the bilingual community in Amherst or Holyoke. Through this course, students will incorporate their personal experience as SHLLs into their coursework. Activities will foster critical thinking, and students will learn to analyze, read, discuss, write, and reflect on issues of language, culture, and identity. Using a student-centered approach, the course will include collaborative brainstorming, free-writing, developing topics of personal importance, and peer and group editing in order to develop students’ writing proficiency and to build community.

This course prepares Spanish heritage language students for advanced-level courses offered by the Spanish Department. Limited to 18 students per section. This course may be counted toward the Spanish Major. The class will be conducted entirely in Spanish, though some assignments can be submitted in English. Prerequisite: SPAN 201, SPAN 202 or placement exam.

Consent Required (students must identify as Spanish heritage language students). Spring Semester. Senior Lecturer Granda.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

225 Latin American Literature in Translation

A joyful introduction to modern Latin American literary classics in translation through the works of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, Julio Cortazar, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Roberto Bolano, Clarise Lispector, and others. The discussion-driven classes will focus on aesthetic movements like Magical Realism as well as on the development of national identity, mestizaje, civil unrest, racial and gender relations, humor, translation, and the opposition between Europeanized and indigenous worldviews. Students will delve into canonical poems, stories, essays, and short novels from the seventeenth century to the present that have reshaped the international scene. Language: English. 

Limited to 40 students. January term. Professor Stavans. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in January 2022, Spring 2022

226 Theorizing the Black Queer Americas

(Offered as BLST 226[D], LLAS 226 and SWAG 226) This course focuses on Black Queer and Trans life and struggle as well as the cultural and intellectual contributions Black Queer and Trans have made to in numerous fields throughout the Americas (North and South). While for many years narratives of the lives of Black LGBTQ people have been silenced and erased due to stigma and intersectional oppression on the basis of race, gender, and sexuality, scholars and artists in the past four decades have worked to recover the stories of Black Queer and Trans communities throughout the diaspora. The Black Queer/Trans Americas will dive into works that highlight these cultural contributions, while also understanding the compounded systemic violence that Black LGBTQ communities have faced and continue to face. By the end of this course students will have a strong understanding of how systems of power work to restrict the freedoms of Black Queer and Trans communities, and how Black LGBTQ people have lived, organized, and created in spite of and in response to these oppressions. This interdisciplinary undergraduate upper level course will utilize academic texts accompanied by poetry, fiction, film, television, and visual art to understand Black Queer and Trans subjectivities. In addition to course materials, the class will also make use of presentations from local artists, activists, and community members in the local area to add to the course experience. Every week will focus on a different theme or field of study related to Black LGBTQ+ life. 

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Poe.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

234 The Sanctuary Movement: Religion, Activism, and Social Contestation

(Offered as REL 234, AMST 234 and LLAS 234) From sanctuary cities and states to sanctuary campuses and churches, declarations of sanctuary sites have swept the nation in recent years. The U.S. Sanctuary Movement, established in 1982 to harbor Central American asylum seekers fleeing civil wars, has today assumed broader social implementations in the New Sanctuary Movement. Beginning with an examination of antecedents to the U.S. Sanctuary Movement in global contexts, this course will offer students an in-depth study of the Sanctuary Movement since the 1980s with special attention to the New Sanctuary Movement which is active today throughout the country.  

No prerequisites necessary. Limited to 20 students. 

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021

240 Religion on the Move: Religion and Migration in North America

(Offered as RELI 240 and LLAS 240) Little Syria in Manhattan, Crypto-Jewish homes in New Mexico, colonias Mormonas in northern Mexico, a Gurdwara deep in the crop-combed fields of California, and Detroit’s New Bethel Baptist Church (the vocal antechamber of Aretha Franklin’s #1 hit you might know as “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”) seem to have little in common. However, a historical examination of such sites reveals that they share basic social building blocks, shaped under similar push and pull factors. This course is concerned with the ways in which migrant groups have altered the religious landscape of North America and how they innovatively reproduce practices from their places of origin. Our main focus will be on the ramifications of religious movement within the U.S.; however, we will also explore migrations that have shaped the continent. Crossing into the U.S. from the eastern seaboard, the Pacific Rim, and the southern border with Mexico, migrants bring their new ways of creating sacred space and negotiating religious life. We will seek to understand the multifaceted relationships between religion and migration. How have migrants negotiated the role of religion in their private and public lives? What have been the social consequences pertaining to gender, praxis, politics, and respectability? The course takes into account migrations prior to the twentieth century in order to understand regional cultures within the U.S. Additionally, case studies in this course will draw heavily from the third wave of American immigration, characterized by twentieth-century “internal migrations” of African Americans, Latinas/os, Native Americans, and rural dwellers into the urban environments. We will conclude by examining the ways in which forces of modern globalization have changed the nature of religious diversity in the U.S. We will extensively compare migrant cultures as we interrogate power and privilege pertaining to race and religion. The cultural production of these migrant groups under study will bring to the class an empathetic understanding of diverse cultures and their forms of belonging.

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Barba.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020

248 Cuba: The Politics of Extremism

(Offered as POSC 248 and LLAS 248) The study of Cuba’s politics presents opportunities to address issues of universal concern to social scientists and humanists in general, not just Latin Americanists. When is it rational to be radical? Why has Cuban politics forced so many individuals to adopt extreme positions? What are the causes of radical revolutions? Is pre-revolutionary Cuba a case of too little development, uneven development or too rapid development? What is the role of leaders: Do they make history, are they the product of history, or are they the makers of unintended histories? Was the revolution inevitable? Was it necessary? How are new (radical) states constructed? What is the role of foreign actors, existing political institutions, ethnicity, nationalism, religion and sexuality in this process? How does a small nation manage to become influential in world affairs, even altering the behavior of superpowers? What are the conditions that account for the survival of authoritarianism? To what extent is the revolution capable of self-reform? Is the current intention of state leaders of pursuing closed politics with open economics viable? What are the most effective mechanisms to change the regime? Why does the embargo survive? Why did Cubans (at home and abroad) care about Elián González? Although the readings will be mostly from social scientists, the course also includes selections from primary sources, literary works and films (of Cuban and non-Cuban origin). As with almost everything in politics, there are more than just two sides to the issue of Cuba. One aim of the course is to expose the students to as many different sides as possible.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Corrales.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Fall 2019

261 History of Central America

(Offered as HIST 261 [LA/TC/TE/TR/TS] and LLAS 261) In this course, students will gain an understanding of major events and themes in the histories of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. As important, they will think and write critically about the contentious history of the region. For good reason, Central America is often considered as a whole, but despite many commonalities, each country's history is unique. How did the indigenous cultures of northern Central America compare to those of the south? Why did the once-united Federation of Central America fracture into five different states? How did Honduras become the quintessential "banana republic"? Why did Guatemala suffer decades of military dictatorships, while Costa Rica abolished its military at the same time? Through lectures and readings, we will answer these questions as we address topics including precolonial indigenous cultures; the conquest, slavery, and encomienda; independence and the struggles of nation-building; foreign interventions; and reforms, revolutions, and counterrevolutions. Two class meetings per week.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

262 Latin America and the United States

(Offered as HIST 262 [LA/TE] and LLAS 262) In this course, students will gain an understanding of major events and themes in the history of United States foreign policy toward Latin America from colonial times to the present.  As important, they will think and write critically about the contentious history of U.S.-Latin American relations.  Just a few of the many topics to be addressed are the Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. invasion of Mexico, the construction of the Panama Canal, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and the Iran-Contra Scandal.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020

263 Struggles for Democracy in Modern Latin America, 1820 to the Present

(Offered as HIST 263 [LA/TE/TR/TS] and LLAS 263) Latin Americans began their struggle for democracy during the independence wars at the start of the nineteenth century. Their struggle continues today. This course considers the historical meanings of democracy in various Latin American countries, with particular attention to the relationship between liberalism and democracy in the nineteenth century; the broadening of democracy at the start of the twentieth century; the rise and fall of military dictatorships in the 1960s–1980s and their impact upon civil society; and the current clashes between neo-liberal economic programs and the neo-populist resurgence of the left. Readings and discussions will focus on the ways broad economic and political shifts impacted individuals' lives; how each economic class experienced these shifts differently; the way race and gender have shaped peoples' experience with democratization and repression; and the personal processes of radicalization by which individuals became inspired to take risks in their struggle for inclusion and against repression. Because the approach is thematic and chronological, some countries and regions will receive more attention than others. Meetings and readings will draw on secondary studies, historical documents, testimonials, music, images, and film. Two meetings per week.

Spring Semester. Professor López.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2017, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

264 Introduction to Latin America: Conquest, Colonization and Rebellion

(Offered as HIST 264 [LA/TC/TE/TR/P] and LLAS 264)  Over the course of three centuries, massive migrations from Europe and Africa and the dramatic decline of indigenous populations in South and Central America radically transformed the cultural, political, economic, and material landscape of what we today know as Latin America. This course will investigate the dynamism of Latin American societies beginning in the ancient or pre-conquest period and ending with the collapse of European rule in most Spanish, Portuguese, and French speaking territories in the New World. We will explore this history through the eyes of various historical actors, including politicians, explorers, noble men and women, indigenous intellectuals, and African slaves. In addition to interrogating the myriad of peaceable and creative cross-cultural exchanges and interactions that characterized the relationship between these groups, we will also explore how conflict, exploitation, and natural disaster shaped the Colonial Latin American experience. Through a mixture of lecture, small and large group activities, and analysis of primary and secondary sources we will also consider how historians understand the past as well as the foundational debates which shape our current interpretations of colonial Latin American history. Two class meetings per week.

Fall semester. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

301 Literature and Culture of the Hispanic World

(Offered as SPAN 301 and LLAS 301) This course provides an introduction to the diverse literatures and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world over the course of six centuries, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. Students will learn the tools, language, and critical vocabulary for advanced work reading the canon of Hispanic literatures from Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean Basin, identifying aesthetic trends, historical periods and diverse genres such as poetry, narrative, theater and film. The syllabus will include a wide variety of authors of different national, political, and artistic persuasions and an array of linguistic styles. This course prepares students for advanced work in Spanish and for study abroad.

Requisite SPAN 202 or Spanish Placement Exam. Proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Spanish are required. Limited to 20 students per section. Fall semester: Visiting Professor Porter.  Spring semester: Professor Brenneis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

341 Mexican Rebels 

(Offered as LLAS 341 and HIST 341 [LA/TE/TR/TS]) What inspires individuals to risk everything to try to change their world? Students will attempt to answer this question through cases ranging from personal acts of rebellion, to social movements and armed conflict. The course pays close attention to personal acts of rebellion against repressive racial, political, and gender structures, focusing on such figures as Hernán Córtes’s legendary consort La Malinche (Malintzin Tenepal), the seventeenth-century protofeminist Sor Juana Inéz de la Cruz, the transgender revolutionary general Amelia/o Robles Ávila, and the artists Gerardo Murillo, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. We also will address armed conflicts such as the Tlaxcalan war against the Aztec Empire, the Wars of Independence (1810-1821), the Maya uprising against white domination in the second half of the nineteenth century, guerrilla resistance against US and French invasions in the 1840s and 1860s, the War of Reform (1857-1860), the Cristero War (1926-1929), the Zapatista uprising of the 1990s, and, most importantly, the Mexican Revolution of (1910-1921). And we will examine social protests, such as the student movement that ended in the Tlatelolco Massacre of 1968, El Barzón, #YoSoy132, MORENA, APPO, the Ayotzinapa protests, and peasant ecology initiatives.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor R. Lopez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

342 Marxism and Revolution in Twentieth-Century Latin America

(Offered as HIST 342 [LA] and LLAS 342) With one significant exception, Latin America’s major revolutions have been led by groups espousing one of three main currents of Marxist thought: Marxism-Leninism (Stalinism), Trotskyism, and Maoism. In this course, the student will master the basics of those theories through the reading and analysis of their primary texts. We will then consider case studies of Marxist-inspired revolutions in Bolivia, Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, and Peru. With the aid of lectures and further readings, the student will critically evaluate, in a series of papers, how Marxist theories were applied in practice in twentieth-century Latin America. One class meeting per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2019

343 Comparative Borderlands: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Transnational Perspective

(Offered as SPAN 342, LLAS 343 and SWAG 343) “Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out,” Chicana feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldúa wrote in the hybrid text Borderlands/La Frontera. She was referring to, what she called, the linguistic imperialism of English in the US Southwest. And yet she also carved out a third space for those subjects at the crossroads of multiple ways of being – the queer and the abject. In this course, we will examine cultural and literary texts that speak to the ways that race, gender, and sexual identity are conditioned by the historical development of geopolitical borders. We will pay particular attention to the US-Mexico Borderlands but we will also examine other places in which “borderlands” of identity exist. Course conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

344 The Cuban Revolution, 1959–2009

(Offered as HIST 344 [LA] and LLAS 344) Sixty years after its triumph, the Cuban revolution continues to ignite controversy and to influence the politics of the Americas and beyond This course will provide an in-depth examination of the origins, course, development, and historical interpretations of the Cuban revolution over its first half-century. Its charismatic leader, Fidel Castro, will receive special attention, as will his closest collaborators: the honorary Cuban, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, and Fidel's younger brother, Raúl. Among many other topics to be explored are the revolution's turn to Marxism-Leninism and the Soviet bloc; its contentious relationship with the United States; the creation and construction of a Cuban socialism; Cuba's special relationship with Africa; and the perennial efforts of Cuban émigrés to overthrow the revolution. We will conclude by considering the revolution's prospects in a post-Soviet—and now post-Fidel—world.

Not offered 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

(Offered as HIST 345 [LA/TR/TS], LLAS 345, and SWAG 345) Popular mythologies of Latin America have historically relied on hyper-masculine archetypes, including the conquistador, the caudillo, and the guerrillero to explain the continent’s past, culture and political development. By contrast, students in this course will be asked to bring women, gender and sexuality from the margins to the center of Latin American history. In doing so, we will reevaluate four transformative historical moments: the Spanish conquest, the wars of independence, the emergence of industrial capitalism, and the proliferation of late twentieth-century political revolutions. Through an exploration of these key periods of upheaval we will assess how social conflict was frequently mediated through competing definitions of masculinity and femininity. In addition, this course will explore the ways in which women’s activism has been central to social and political movements across the continent. Furthermore, we will investigate how the domain of sexual practice and reproduction underpinned broader conflicts over racial purity, worker power, and the boundaries of citizenship in racially and ethnically diverse societies. The course will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered in 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

346 Indigenous Histories of Latin America

(Offered as HIST 346 [LA/TE/TR]  and LLAS 346) In this course, students will explore the cultures and civilizations of native peoples of Latin America from ancient times to the present.  Examining the Caribbean, Mesoamerican, Andean, and Amazonian regions, we will consider questions such as: What were the earliest cultures of the Americas like?  How did civilizations such as the Maya, the Aztecs, and the Inca confront the unprecedented challenges of the conquest?  How did indigenous peoples resist and forcibly adapt to centuries of Spanish and Portuguese colonialism?  What roles did native peoples  play in the new nations of the nineteenth century?  How have indigenous peoples pursued their own struggles for citizenship in the face of threats to their autonomy and the environment?  In a series of short writing assignments and a longer paper based on original research, students will explore secondary historiographies, analyze diverse primary sources, and discuss different historical methods in the study of the indigenous past and present. Two meetings per week.

Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Lohse.

 
2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

357 Understanding Spanish Structure and Use

(Offered as SPAN 357 and LLAS 357) Spanish is the second-most widely spoken language in the world. With more than 400 million native speakers, it has official status in 21 countries. In the United States more than 40 million people use Spanish in their daily lives. What exactly is the Spanish language? What do you actually know when you speak Spanish? These questions are at the heart of this course. By following a bottom-up design—from smallest to largest segments of language—we will understand the basic characteristics of human language and will examine the architecture of the Spanish language: how its sounds are produced and how they combine; how its words are constructed from their component parts; how its sentences are formed; how its meanings are understood; and how its use reflects aspects of our socio-cultural behavior. As an approach to the formal study of the Spanish language, we will explore actual and diverse language data such as texts, speech samples, and songs to grasp complex linguistic phenomena. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: Spanish 202 or permission of instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Sánchez-Naranjo.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022

362 Childhood in African and Caribbean Literature

(Offered as ENGL 318, BLST 362 [A/CLA], and LLAS 362) The course will concentrate on Caribbean authors. It explores the process of self-definition in literary works from Africa and the Caribbean that are built around child protagonists. We will examine the authors’ various methods of ordering experience through the choice of literary form and narrative technique, as well as the child/author’s perception of his or her society. French texts will be read in translation.

Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Cobham-Sander.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2020

375 Amherst Latinx Lives

(Offered as AMST 375, LLAS 375, SOCI 375 and SPAN 375) Over the past four decades, the Latinx student population at Amherst has increased more than seven-fold, from about 30 students per class in the 1970s, to over 200 per class in the last several years. As a community, however, we know very little about the subjective experience of Latinxs who live, study, and work at Amherst College. In this course, we will read and discuss different genres of scholarship that focus on the Latinx experience—empirical research, fiction, memoirs, and films—before proceeding to a series of workshops on how to conduct oral history interviews. Students will then apply this theoretical and practical knowledge to an exploration of the experiences of Latinx students, alumni, faculty, and staff in our community. These interviews will form the basis of a collectively-edited documentary designed to encourage cross-cultural dialogues within and outside the Latinx community, and in the process, increase awareness of the diversity of Latinx lives on our campus. Students of all backgrounds are welcome, and knowledge of Spanish or Spanglish is useful but not required.

Admission with the consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2021-2022 Professors Schroeder Rodríguez and Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

451 Translation Roots of a US Literary Landscape

(Offered as SPAN 451 and LLAS 451) This course highlights literary connections between the United States and the Spanish-speaking world via translation. Through a study of texts from the late nineteenth century to the present, we will look at the role of translation in literary histories and current literary activities. We will examine how writers have translated in order to practice and enhance their creative writing. We will use translation as a way to access and analyze literary texts. We will also think about translation as professional and collaborative activities. We will study the work of José Martí (Cuba), Julia de Burgos (Puerto Rico), Silvina Ocampo (Argentina), Felipe Alfau (Catalonia-Spain), Salvador Dalí (Catalonia-Spain), Achy Obejas (Cuba), and Urayoán Noel (Puerto Rico), among others. In addition, we will explore ways of contributing with translational activities to our own literary landscape in the Amherst area by possibly collaborating with local institutions such as the Emily Dickinson Museum, the Eric Carle Museum, and the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or permission of the instructor.  Limited to 18 students. Fall Semester: Visiting Associate Professor Galasso.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

455 One Hundred Years of Solitude

(Offered as LLAS 455 and SPAN 455) A patient, detailed, Talmudic reading of Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpiece, Cien años de soledad, known as “the Bible of Latin America.” The course sets it in biographical, historical, and aesthetic context. Conducted in Spanish.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Stavans. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2018, Spring 2021

461 The Creole Imagination

(Offered as ENGL 491, BLST 461 [CLA], and LLAS 461) What would it mean to write in the language in which we dream? A language that we can hear, but cannot (yet) see? Is it possible to conceive a language outside the socio-symbolic order? And can one language subvert the codes and values of another? Questions like these have animated the creolité/nation language debate among Caribbean intellectuals since the mid-1970s, producing some of the most significant francophone and anglophone writing of the twentieth century. This course reads across philosophy, cultural theory, politics, and literature in order to consider the claims such works make for the Creole imagination. We will engage the theoretical and creative work of Édouard Glissant, Maryse Condé, Wilson Harris, Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, Patrick Chamoiseau, Jamaica Kincaid, and Edwidge Danticat. We also will consider how these writers transform some of the fundamental ideas of psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and critical historiography. At stake in our readings will be the various aesthetic and political aspects of postcolonial struggle–how to think outside the colonial architecture of language; how to contest and subvert what remains from history’s violence; and how to evaluate the claims to authenticity of creolized New World cultural forms.

Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Cobham-Sander.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2020

463 Research Seminar in the History of the Atlantic Slave Trade

(Offered as BLST 363 [CLA], HIST 463 [AF/TC/TE/TS/TR/P] and LLAS 463) In this course students will consult, analyze, and employ a variety of sources, including the accounts of missionaries, journals of slave traders, the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, and the few available slave narratives written by Africans. Students will be presented with the tools to write original research on topics including the involvement of Western African societies in the slave trade, the logistics of the Middle Passage, characteristics of the captives transported from Africa to the Americas, and the Africans' own experiences of the Middle Passage and adaptation to the slave régimes of the Americas. Students will write a series of short assignments leading up to a major research paper of 20-25 pages.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

485 Telenovelas

(Offered as SPAN 485 and LLAS 485) Arguably the most influential popular form of cultural expression in Latin America, a single episode of any prime-time telenovela is watched by more people than all the accumulated number of Spanish-language readers of One Hundred Years of Solitude over time. The course will explore the historical origin and development of telenovelas as well as various production techniques, the way scripts are shaped and actors are asked to perform, the role of music and other sounds, etc. Each country in the region has its own telenovela tradition. We will look at Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and the Spanish-language productions of Univisión and Telemundo in the United States, among others. But the main objective of the course will be to analyze the performative nature of emotions in telenovelas and also gender, class, and political tension on the small screen. And we will delve into the strategies various governments have used by means of telenovelas to control the population (“melodrama is the true opium of the masses,” said a prominent Mexican telenovela director), their use as educational devices, and the clash between telenovelas and fútbol in the region’s celebrity ecosystem. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Stavans.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499 Senior Honors

Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Related Courses

AMST-305 Gender, Migration and Power: Latinos in the Americas (Course not offered this year.)
ARHA-255 Latin American Art: Strategies and Tactics (Course not offered this year.)
BLST-201 Power and Resistance in the Black Atlantic (Course not offered this year.)
ENGL-491 The Creole Imagination (Course not offered this year.)
HIST-345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-248 Cuba: The Politics of Extremism (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-307 States of Extraction: Nature, Women, and World Politics (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-421 Indigenous World Politics (Course not offered this year.)
RELI-240 Religion on the Move: Religion and Migration in North America (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-330 Latin American Cinema (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-335 New Latin American Documentary (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-370 <em>Mare Nostrum</em>: The Caribbean as Idea and Invention (Course not offered this year.)
SPAN-435 Puerto Rico: Diaspora Nation (Course not offered this year.)