Undegraduate Course Information - Spring 2021


SPA 314: Civilization of Spanish America

Dr. Ruth Brown

Note: This class is 100% online with no live class meetings on Zoom. We'll have two due dates/week: Tuesday and Thursday at midnight. It is 8-weeks, so we move pretty fast and cover a lot of material each week. But, the asynchronous part means that you can do the work whenever fits best for your schedule.

Course description: This course is designed to acquaint students with Spanish America’s intellectual, cultural and historical development, from Pre-Columbian times to the present. We will draw on a variety of materials, including nonfiction writing, poetry, music, visual art, and Internet sources to inform our study some of the many cultures, people, and nations that make up Spanish America. Through online discussions and individual exploration, students will be asked to evaluate and think critically about Spanish-American cultures while refining their own communicative abilities in Spanish. 


SPA 400

Food Cultures of the Hispanic World

Dr. Ana Rueda

This Food Studies course focuses on food as a doorway to understand culture in the Hispanic World: Spain and Portugal, Latin America and Brazil. The course is taught in Spanish except for some presentations by guest speakers (faculty from the College of Agriculture, Food & Environment, and The College of Arts & Sciences). We will study Luso-Hispanic cuisine, taking into account a long and complex history of food cultures, with an emphasis on distinctive social, cultural, linguistic, geographic, political, and economic characteristics. The textbook will be complemented by select readings in Spanish and English. We will explore

  • the different cultures and national identities within the Iberian Peninsula and the major diet components in select areas of the Hispanic World;
  • spices, sugar, coffee, and other ingredients in the context of exchanges among the Iberian Peninsula, the Mediterranean, the New World, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia;
  • food wars and banana republics;
  • how the indigenous cultures of Latin America respond to Spanish and Portuguese colonial foods to create distinct cuisines, and how American products transform Iberian cuisine dramatically;
  • food practices and sociability related to the culture of the table, modes and techniques of food preparation and consumption, kitchen design and culinary artifacts;
  • Latino influences impacting food choices in the United States, nutrition, and foodways in the context of globalization.


Food as represented in paintings, literature, film, music and politics will complement our learning experiences. Due to the current situation, the class will be unable to use the Learning Kitchen on campus to create and taste traditional dishes. Students work on select topics for their different projects (2 oral presentations 20%, visual modalities/infographics assignments 10%, brief reports 20%, 2 short papers 30%, and final paper 20%).


SPA 464 MWF 11am-12pm (via Zoom)

Latina/x American Women Fiction Writers Confront the 21st Century

Dr. Dierdra Reber

For the past ten years, a new generation of predominantly 30s- and 40s-something women writers hailing from across Latin America and the Latina/o/x US have been crafting “ghost stor[ies] for the real world,” “psychological realism, science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism” whose narrative modalities include “psychological menace,” “black magic,” “physical and metaphysical blindness,” and “dangerous games that blur the line between love and violence.” Often categorized as “speculative fiction,” their works are populated with “broken souls,” “toxins,” “drugs,” “pain,” “disappearance,” “psychopathic cannibal[s],” “Siamese fighting fish, cockroaches, cats, snakes, [and] strange fungus” in apartment buildings and libraries, on road trips and space travel, at the Mexico-US border and in the Antilles, across time in the past, present, and future. One author is likened by critics to a “psychoanalyst in a planetary refugee camp.” These authors play with horror, magic, and the weird to render fierce social criticism from their narrative exposition of material realties about relationships, affect, power, economic realities, and the prospects for self-determination and decolonization of the feminist subject. As a genre, the short story is making a marked comeback with this generational cohort, and it will be our principal focus, fundamentally considering how these works theorize contemporary realities from a literary platform: from their collective literary vantage point, what does it mean to be a contemporary Latin/x American woman? Class discussion will be conducted in Spanish; course materials will be selected according to availability in both Spanish and English. Students will be expected to participate actively in class discussion, write frequent short critical reactions to readings, give one or more in-class presentations, and write a final analytical essay.


Authors/texts may include:

Selva Almada, “El viejo muerto,” in Disculpe que no me levante (2014; Argentina)

Karen Chacek, “¿Alguien le ha visto?”, “La criatura del 85”, “Palabras-zumbido”, “Como cada vez” (Mexico 2014)

Liliana Colanzi, Nuestro mundo muerto (Our Dead World; Bolivia 2016)

Mariana Enríquez, Las cosas que perdimos en el fuego (Things We Lost in the Fire; Argentina 2016)

Paulina Flores, Qué vergüenza (Humiliation; Chile 2015)

Laia Jufresa, El equinista (The Cornerist; Mexico 2014)

Carmen María Machado, Her Body and Other Parties (US 2017)

Lina Meruane, “Ay,” in Disculpe que no me levante (2014; Chile)

María José Navia, Instrucciones para ser feliz; “Aquí” (Chile 2015; 2019)

Guadalupe Nettel, El matrimonio de los peces rojos (Natural Histories; Mexico 2013)

Malka Older, …and Other Disasters (US 2019)

Giovanna Rivero, “De tu misma especie” in Disculpe que no me levante (2014; Bolivia)

Samanta Schweblin, Pájaros en la boca (Mouthful of Birds; Argentina 2009)

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