Spring 2018

A Social History of the Spanish Language

Listed in: Spanish, as SPAN-343


Ilan Stavans (Section 01)


(Offered as COLQ 343 and SPAN 343) Histories of the Spanish language regularly focus on the syntactical changes (grammatical structure, verb conjugations, etc.) undergone through time. This course takes a different approach: it looks at the concrete way people have used Spanish in everyday life over the last one thousand years, concentrating on revolutions, labor and political movements, domestic life, and cultural activities such as reading, writing, and consuming newspapers, radio, TV, movies, and the internet. The course will provide the theoretical framework to approach the material appropriately, from Saussure and Samuel Johnson to contemporary arguments in socio-linguistics. Students will select a Spanish-language country (Argentina, Mexico, Cuba, Peru, Chile, Puerto Rico, Colombia, or the Dominican Republic) and, in chronological order, delve into specific texts and examples in order to understand linguistic usage across history. This course is part of a model of tutorials at Amherst designed to enable students to engage in substantive research with faculty.  The size of the course will be small: six students. Participants must also commit to working for six weeks in the summer of 2018. The college will provide housing and a stipend. All semester and summer work will culminate in the publication of a new social history of the Spanish language. Conducted in Spanish.

Open to sophomores and juniors interested in research.  Limited to 6 students. Spring semester. Professor Stavans.

If Overenrolled: Priority to rising juniors and seniors who have taken at least two other advanced Spanish courses


Attention to Research, Languages Other Than English


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