Current Courses

This page shows the titles and descriptions of our current undergraduate elective courses and graduate seminars. Full course offerings and details.

Fall 2024

Selected Undergraduate Courses

Spanish 131 - Small Masterpieces: Art of the Short Story in Latin America

Prof. Daylet Domínguez

Spanish 131: Small Masterpieces: Art of the Short Story in Latin America (Spanish 25 is requirement for this course)

Discover the great tradition of the short story in modern Latin American literature. A wide range of stories will be available to read, analyze and debate, drawing on modern and contemporary writers. Students will be encouraged to investigate the internal structure of the genre through critical and theoretical essays—many of them written by the authors themselves. Readings will include works by Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Augusto Monterroso, Silvina Ocampo, Elena Garro, Horacio Quiroga, Juan Rulfo and Guillermo Cabrera Infante.

Spanish 135: Borderland Ecologies

Prof. Daniella Cádiz Bedini

This course explores different conceptions of borders and borderlands as they appear in the literature of Latin America from the 1840s to the present. We'll read an array of critical and theoretical texts alongside primary sources — including novels, biographies, journals, art, music, and film — to examine the varied histories and forms that the border takes: the geopolitical borders of nation-states in the Americas, the borders between life and death, the gaps between survival and destruction, and the borders between temporal zones like the past, present, and future. Combining methods such as archival history, hemispheric approaches, and race studies, we'll attempt to answer a range of questions: How have texts from the Americas envisioned the border, and what understandings of geopolitical strife and dispossession underpin these visions? Is there such a thing as an environmentalism of the borderlands and what are some of the forms that extractivism takes at these various sites? In what ways do acts of translation work to bridge the spaces between borders, or, inversely, how do they amplify and highlight the spaces in between?

Students will write some brief responses to the materials as well as a short paper that can serve as the basis for the final research essay. The course will be taught in Spanish and reading proficiency in Spanish is required.

Spanish 135: Latine Cultural Studies

Prof. Raúl Coronado

We all know what culture is. It’s what people make or do: their customs, food, and religious practices. It can also be objects: music, art, literature and other books, or movies. But it’s not always something tangible, something concrete. It can be expressive, like dancing, singing, or myths. But some people also talk about “having” culture or “being cultured,” implying that someone is “cultivated” or has a good appreciation of the highest values of that society. But how can all of these things be categorized under “culture”? In this course, we will unpack all of these meanings of culture. In doing so, we will be in a better position to offer more nuanced interpretations of what we mean by “culture.”

We’ll begin the semester by exploring the many different labels we use to describe the Latine community. We will then shift to the meanings of the concept “culture,” and we will study the theory of representation that allows us to unpack examples of Latine culture. We will explore these questions by diving into the specifics of Latine culture. We’ll have occasion to study the history of Latine culture, folk culture, popular culture, music, art, and literary culture

Portuguese 135: The Brazilian Short Story

Prof. Nathaniel Zlotkin Wolfson

This course offers an immersive exploration of the diverse voices, themes, and styles found within Brazilian short fiction. From the prose of Machado de Assis to the evocative narratives of Clarice Lispector, students will encounter a wide range of authors who have contributed to Brazil's vibrant literary landscape. Participants will unravel the complexities of Brazilian society, history, and culture as reflected in the short story form. Each week, we'll delve into a selection of short stories (and related music and film) spanning different periods, regions, and literary movements. By the end of the course, students will not only have a comprehensive understanding of Brazilian short fiction but will also have cultivated a deeper appreciation for the diversity and complexity of Brazilian culture. Conducted in Portuguese. 

Graduate Seminars

Spanish C209 - Empirical Approaches to Contact-Induced Change

Prof. Justin Davidson

Taught in English, this course serves as an in-depth exploration of two antithetical phenomena in Contact Linguistics: endogenous change and contact-induced change. A focal point of the seminar will be problematizing the assessment of linguistic innovation and change as contact-induced, as frameworks of language contact span the gamut from 'perhaps no change is ever contact-induced' all the way to 'all change is contact-induced'. Through a review of several case studies on phonological, phonetic, morphosyntactic, and lexical variables in Spanish and other languages in contact, students will gain a critical understanding of various theoretical frameworks and terminology to define and consequently empirically classify language contact phenomena.

Spanish 280: Plantation Cultures of the Caribbean and its Aftermath

Prof. Daylet Domínguez

Through a wide spectrum of sources (essays, fiction, poetry and art), this graduate seminar will examine commonalities and the discontinuities among the last Spanish colonies (Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic). We will explore the ways in which writers told an origin story and attempted to foster a sense of common destiny and of belonging to a nation. Rather than strive for breadth of coverage, the course opts for depth: we will delve into the major themes that shaped modern Caribbean literature and culture in the 19thand 20th centuries: slavery, plantation and capitalism; race relations and whitening ideologies; colonialism and imperialism; nation, exile and diaspora; revolution, utopia and dictatorship. We will pay close attention to the ways in which literary, racial and national imaginaries were constructed and consolidated through the 19th century, and the long-lasting impact they had in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The readings will include works by Virgilio Piñera, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, José Luis González, Antonio S. Pedreira, Reinaldo Arenas, Alejo Carpentier, Salomé Ureña, Cirilo Villaverde, Fernando Ortiz and Salvador Brau, among others. Critical and theoretical essays by Antonio Benítez Rojo, Susan Buck-Morss, Èdouard Glissant, Peter Hulme, Sidney Mintz, among many others.

Spanish 285: From the School of Toledo to Mutatis Mutandis: The History, Theory and Practice of Translation.

Prof. Nasser Meerkhan

This course will focus on the history, theories, and practices of translation from the middle ages until today. The history part will have a special emphasis on the multilingual and multiethnic Toledo School of Translation (12th-13th c.)We will also study the history of translation theories as well as current theories and practices of translation. You will put the latter into practice through translation workshops that range from medieval to modern to contemporary texts. These will be chosen from a wide variety of sources such as chronicles, works of fiction, legal documents, articles, among others.

The first half of the semester will also include 30-minute lectures at the end of each class focusing on the medieval works from the GE reading list. This part is optional for students who are not taking/have already taken their GE exams.

The course will be offered in English; however, knowledge of Spanish is necessary for the workshops.

Portuguese 275: Media and Modernity

Prof. Nathaniel Zlotkin Wolfson

This seminar explores approaches to the pairing of media and modernity. How do writers and artists imagine the interfaces of media and daily life? Focusing on Brazil, this seminar will cover a range of materials from the 19th century through the present, allowing us to track the evolution of media and technology in different aesthetic languages. How do writers register the ways in which communication technologies alter the chemistry of social relations and political subjectivities? How do they demonstrate new perceptions of time? In addition to working with literary and art objects, we will also become familiar with Brazilian and Latin American media philosophies and their divergences from canonical media philosophy. Doing this will involve working with recent thinkers of media who have been drawing from other kinds of discourses, including geography, diasporic Black thought, music and ecocriticism.

Spring 2024

Selected Undergraduate Courses

Spanish 135: How to Write About "Everyday Life"

Prof. Ignacio E Navarrete

We think we know what everyday life is, but what exactly do we mean when we refer to la vida cotidiana? Do we mean the places where we live? Our bodies, the food that we eat, the way that we spend money? Our daily customs and habits, the furniture in our homes, our most intimate relationships? The stream of consciousness of our thoughts? More importantly, how do we write about something that seems so clear and obvious, yet is so elusive when we try to pin it down? In this course we will read some selections from authors who have tried to theorize about the concept of everyday life, and from writers, from Spain and Mexico, who sought to represent it. Readings will include selections from novelists Cervantes, Galdós, Soledad Puertolas, Marta Sanz, and José Emilio Pacheco, and the Mexican historian Pilar Gonzalbo Aizpuru; we will read a small book, Los mexicanos pintados por si mismos, and compare it to paintings from the same period. But this is not a conventional literature course; rather, the emphasis is on student writing, including building up the vocabulary necessary for the description of different aspects of everyday life. For that reason, there will be weekly quizzes and writing assignments which may be creative rather than critical in nature. Note: Earlier versions of the course included field trips to the Berkeley Art Museum and to the De Young Museum in San Francisco; we will try to do them again. The De Young field trip will be on a Saturday.

Spanish 135: Indigenous Arts in the Americas: Ancestral Futures

Prof. Natalia Brizuela

This class will study recent Indigenous creative practices -poetry, novels, essays, film, photography, textile, drawing, and performance- from the Americas. We will explore how Indigenous practitioners draw on ancestral traditions to imagine and create futures beyond and outside the colonial Western frameworks of development, progress, time, and history.

Spanish 135: Elementary Judeo-Spanish: Ladino

Also JEWISH 102
Prof. Adam Mahler

Judeo-Spanish, also known as Ladino, is the linguistic legacy of the Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal in the late fifteenth century. In this translation-driven course, students will learn to read and analyze Judeo-Spanish literary and cultural texts. Combining language instruction with elements of literary studies, this fast-paced course exposes students to Sephardic culture in the longue durée, including Hispano-Jewish poetry, Moroccan balladry, liturgical texts from Amsterdam, Ottoman-era memoir, holocaust testimony from the Balkans, and Jewish-American reportage and satire.

Depending on course composition, students will have the opportunity to practice basic conversational skills. No knowledge of Hebrew or a Romance language required.

Counts towards a major / minor in The Languages Literatures and Cultures of the Spanish-Speaking World or Hispanic Languages, Linguistics, and Bilingualism

Spanish 135AC: Indigenous and Latinx Pathways of Memory in California

Prof. Estelle Tarica

This course is inspired by the concept of the “memory path” that Indigenous scholar Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui has revitalized for contemporary anticolonial practices. A “memory path” is a physical or imaginative journey across the local landscape and into the past. It is also an act of symbolic reconstitution that confronts and repairs colonial legacies of fragmentation. In this class we will read recent works by Indigenous, Latinx and Afro-Latinx writers whose verbal arts constitute powerful memory paths into California’s land and history. These authors confront historical dispossession and marginalization, from the stolen Indigenous lands of the Bay Area to Latinx and Afro-Latinx identities rendered “alien,” “illegal” or invisible, and use memory to sustain struggles for restitution and against racism. The memory pathways they create will connect us in turn to the greater Americas – to Mexico and Central America and to diverse migrant and diasporic experiences. Our analysis will be guided by Indigenous thought from both sides of the border, and by critical and historical reflection on the racialization of space. We will discuss work by poets, novelists, essayists and scholars, including Deborah Miranda, Tommy Pico, Tommy Orange, Javier Zamora, Roberto Lovato, Walter Thompson-Hernández, Alan Peláez-López, and many others. What is the potential for transformative placemaking that we find in these works and the memoryscapes they traverse? The course will be conducted in English and satisfies the American Cultures breadth requirement.

Spanish 166: Foreign Language Acquisition and Pedagogy for Spanish Language Instruction

Prof. Justin Davidson

Taught in Spanish, this course serves to familiarize students with the fields of First and Second Language Acquisition, additionally covering implications for the teaching of (K-12) Spanish in the U.S. Centering on the context of Spanish acquisition by native speakers of English, the course explores parallels and differences between first and second language acquisition, the effects of individual differences on foreign language learning, and prominent models of first and second language acquisition. Students will apply language acquisition theory to critically evaluate common K-12 Spanish classroom activities, as well as design their own, informed by empirical research.

Portuguese 104: Brazil in the World

Prof. Milena Britto de Queiroz

In exploring the persistence of a history of conquest and exchange in Brazil, this course investigates the interconnections and cross-fertilizations that have endured to diversify this country’s distinctly original national cultures.  In so doing, it uses the impacts of European colonialism in the Americas and Africa as a springboard for understanding Brazil’s regional specificity.  While there will be moments that recall a distant past, others will shed light on a present that both resembles and stands apart from much of Spanish America in the present. Throughout the course, the literature that we will be examining will find echoes in the country’s rich history.

Portuguese 135: Performativity, Gender and Sexuality in Contemorary Brazilian Art and Culture

Prof. Milena Britto de Queiroz

In this course we will examine the intersections of sexuality, gender and race in contemporary Brazilian culture and arts (literature, film, music and digital culture). Among other themes, we will explore the body, the aesthetics and politics of the street, drag culture, and “art-ivism.”

Graduate Seminars

Spanish C202: Linguistic History of the Romance Language

Also French C202 and Italian C201
Prof. Justin Davidson

Linguistic development of the major Romance languages (French, Italian, and Spanish) from the common Latin origin. Comparative perspective, combining historical grammar and external history. 

Spanish 260: Cervantes: The Major Fiction

Prof. Ignacio E Navarrete

Instead of the customary close reading of Don Quixote, I would like to do a faster reading of his major works of prose fiction. There will still be plenty of time for detailed observation, but this approach will give students a greater overview of the fiction that he published in the last remarkable decade of his life. For this same reason, I also propose to read the works in the order of publication. Thus, we will spend the first 3 weeks on Part 1 of Don Quixote (1605). The next 4 weeks we will read his short story collection, the Novelas ejemplares (“Exemplary novels,” 1613). We will then return for another three weeks to the second part of Don Quixote (1615), and spend the final four weeks on the posthumous Trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda (1617), which he considered his greatest work.

Students should do the reading in their best language, and class participation may be in either Spanish or English. Because we are going to be reading a good deal, we will dispense with the customary term paper in favor of three short essays. I look forward to the entertaining reading and the lively discussions.

Spanish 280: Lo que no imaginas: Modern Latin American Poetry and Poetics

Prof. Thomas Patrick McEnaney

This course will offer a survey of Latin American poetry from the late 19th century to our present day, studying the intersections of formal experimentation and political history, while also serving as a workshop in the techniques and limits of “close reading.” Canonical movements (modernismo, las vanguardias (ultraísmo, creacionismo, estridentismo), poesía afroantillana, el neo-barocco (y el neo-barroso), etc) and their manifestos, lesser studied and largely forgotten writers, and a multitude of theoretical writings from and about Latin American poets will help us understand how these writings have transformed poetry and its theory. Students will write several short papers, as well as a final research paper.

Portuguese 275: Tropical Avant-Gardes

Prof. Nathaniel Zlotkin Wolfson

This course explores critiques of Western theories of the avant-garde by focusing on Brazilian texts and visual materials mainly of the 20th century. We will consider how individuals involved in literary, architectural, and artistic movements especially in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1960s, associated their work with concepts of “the tropics.” In various and sometimes opposing ways, situating their practices in “the tropics” allowed them to address the relationships between avant-garde and anti-colonial movements. In the 1960s, the notion of “experimentation” in literary and art practices, so tied up with Western aesthetic theory of the avant-garde, was sometimes challenged by artists and critics. On the topic of experimentation we will read critiques of aesthetic autonomy by Hélio Oiticica and Lina Bo Bardi, as well as studies of indigenous and African cosmologies and traditions by Abdias do Nascimento, Edmilson de Almeida Pereira, and Conceição Evaristo. A second through line of this seminar considers how, in Brazil and across Latin America, technological imaginaries in literature and art have often invoked ecological destruction and capitalist extractivism. On this topic we’ll read with poets, architects and engineers. A third through line concerns alternatives to Western philosophies of rationality and the self. We’ll read texts on psychology and language theory, including those by philosopher Vicente Ferreira da Silva, psychologist Nisa de Silveira, and artist Flávio de Carvalho.

Though Brazilian texts will be emphasized, those interested in avant-garde aesthetics from other regions are very much encouraged to join. However, because of the limited availability of translations, reading proficiency of Portuguese is required.