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Spanish & Latin American Cultures

219 Milbank Hall  
Language Program Director: Javier Perez-Zapatero, 212-854-5421
Department Administrative Assistant, Tynisha Rue: 212-854-2597
212-854 7491 (fax)

Chair: Wadda Rios-Font (Professor)
Professor: Alfred Mac Adam
Assistant Professors: Orlando Bentancor, Ronald Briggs, Maja Horn
Senior Associates: Jesus Suarez Garcia, Javier Perez Zapatero (Language Coordinator)
Associates: Isaura Arce Fernandez, Maria Eugenia Lozano

The Department of Spanish and Latin American Cultures

The Department of Spanish and Latin American Cultures at Barnard College boasts a long tradition of excellence in undergraduate education for women. Throughout its history, it has afforded students a solid preparation in both Spanish language and the literatures and cultures of Spain, Spanish America, and the Spanish-speaking United States.


The keystone of our integrated curriculum is linguistic and intellectual continuity from the elementary language level to the most advanced literature and culture courses. Our language courses are  skill - and proficiency- oriented and provide the foundatonan students need for advanced study, either at Barnard or in college-level study abroad. Our upper-level courses stressthe necessary historical and theoretical tools needed to understand the cultural and aesthetic production of the Hispanic world. Through our strong collaboration with interdisciplinary programs at Barnard, including Comparative Literature, Africana Studies, Women’s Studies, and the Forum on Migration, as well as our teamwork with the Columbia Department of Spanish and Portuguese, we are ideally poised to train students for a wide range of post-graduation experiences in MA/PhD programs or in the professional sphere.

Student Learning Outcomes

Through the Major in Spanish and Latin American Cultures, students who rigorously apply themselves to their studies will be able to:

  • Use the Spanish language at the B2-C2 proficiency levels (Independent User/Proficient User), as defined by the Common European Framework of Reference (depending on initial background and ability);*
  • Identify and describe the cultures of Spain and Spanish America throughout their history, from Islamic Spain and the colonial period through the present.
  • Demonstrate specialized knowledge of selected literary and cultural works, authors and cultural producers of the Hispanic world, understood in their aesthetic, historical, and social contexts.
  • Use basic principles of literary and cultural theory to analyze and interpret a variety of texts and other cultural products.
  • Express their ideas, analyses, and interpretation through clear oral exposition and effective critical writing.
  • Conduct research in the fields of Spanish and Spanish American literature and culture, and demonstrate the results of their research and thinking in original academic essays.

Major and Minor in Spanish and Latin American Cultures

Majors and minors in this department will provide students with a solid literacy in the cultures of the Hispanic world. Literacy at the level of language instruction entails the students' ability to express themselves fluently in Spanish, both orally and in writing. Literacy at the cultural level entails an intellectual grasp of Spanish and Spanish-American cultural and artistic products and the knowledge of the historical and methodological contexts in which to situate them. Students must consult with the major advisor to carefully plan their program upon major declaration. With advisor approval, courses taken abroad or at another institution can apply toward the major/minor. The Department of Spanish and Latin American Cultures addresses the Barnard senior research requirement through the writing of a substantial paper in a topic-based senior seminar; there is the possibility of further research development for some students. The Spanish and Latin American Cultures majors have been designed in conjunction with the Columbia Department of Spanish and Portuguese.  Hence, Barnard students may, always in consultation with the major advisor, move freely between the departments of both institutions in search of the courses that best fit their interests and schedules.

* The Common European Framework of Reference defines these levels as follows:

Proficient User

C2 Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.

C1 Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.

Independent User

B2 Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.