Spanish Major Courses – Fall 2021

Major-Level Spanish Courses Fall 2021

All courses are taught in Spanish.

Spanish 250: Family and Gender Roles in Spain: 1900 to Present
Section A – Prof. Gwen Barnes-Karol, T 9:35-11:00 / Th 9:30-10:50
Section B – Staff, T 1:20-2:45 / Th 2:15-3:35

Since the late 20th century, Spain has undergone a “revolución familiar” – dramatic changes in family structures and gender roles, the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community, and relationships between generations. While some of these changes may seem to parallel those that have occurred in other countries (including the U.S.), the way they came about in Spain is unique. In this class, we’ll explore the history of families and gender roles from the early 1900s to the present day through analysis of a series of “cultural texts” – from statistical data to periodical press articles to films to a historical novel that will help us imagine the lives of two teachers at a time when new ways of seeing the world put traditional values to the test. You will continue to develop your oral expression in Spanish through class discussions, presentations, and other activities, and most importantly, through various modes of academic writing. The course includes participation in three out-of-class conversation groups.


  • Novel: Historia de una maestra (Josefina R. Aldecoa)
  • Film: La lengua de las mariposas
  • Other non-literary readings (course packet)

Prerequisite: Spanish 232 or Placement into Spanish 250 or Spanish 251
Spanish 250 or Spanish 251 required for the Spanish major (only one of these two courses can count for the major)

Spanish 250 or Spanish 251 required for the Latin American Studies major

Counts Toward Majors: Latin American Studies, Performance, Political Science, Spanish, Women’s and Gender Studies.

Counts Toward Concentrations: Family Studies, International Relations, Management Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies.


Spanish 251: Gender and Race in Latin America
Prof. Jonathan O’Conner, MWF 12:55-1:50

Students explore diverse experiences of modern Latin America through the lenses of gender and race, which provide a productive framework for examining economic, class, and other key aspects of Latin American society. Students will work with a variety of sources, both literary and non-literary, including articles, images, documents, and at least one substantive literary work). This cultural analysis provides for the development of critical reading and writing skills (e.g., description, narration, exposition, and argumentation). Taught in Spanish. Offered each semester. 

Prerequisite: Spanish 232 or placement into Spanish 250.

Counts toward Women’s and gender studies, RACE, and Latin American studies majors and RACE and Women’s and gender studies concentrations.


Spanish 273: Cultural Heritage of the Latinx U.S.
Prof. Ariel Strichartz, MWF 9:05-10:00
  • What are the connections between the image in the center of the Mexican flag–an eagle perched on a cactus, devouring a serpent–and the Brown Power movement of the late 1960s and 1970s?
  • How does rasquachismo—as an attitude, sensibility, and aesthetic—express the lived reality of Chicanos?
  • How did the Actos of Luis Valdez’s Teatro Campesino, performed in flatbed trucks on the picket lines of the 1965 Grape Strike, seek to raise consciousness among agricultural workers?
  • How have Cuban novelists and playwrights explored the lasting repercussions of exile on Cuban families divided between the Island and the United States, both within and across generations?
  • How do the various meanings of “AmeRícan” in the poetry of Tato Laviera affirm the complex identity of Puerto Ricans whose migration makes “walking bridges” between the Island and the continental United States?

This major-level course offers to all students–both those familiar as well as those unfamiliar with the topic of Latinxs in the United States–an opportunity to explore the histories and experiences of Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, and Puerto Ricans in the United States. Through the analysis of novels, stories, plays, poetry, essays, and manifestos, we will explore the importance of the following factors, among others, for shaping cultural identity:

  • place and land
  • the relationship between the individual and the collective of which they form a part.
  • religion and spirituality
  • the representation of the past

Tentative readings include the following:

  •  Tomás Rivera, …y no se lo tragó la tierra (novel)
  • Cristina García, Soñar en cubano (novel)
  • Several one-act plays by Teatro Campesino
  • Sandra Cisneros, “Milagritos: Promesas Cumplidas” (narrative)
  • Manuel Martín, Jr., Sanguivin in Union City (play)
  • Dolores Prida, La botánica (play)
  • Poetry by Pedro Pietri and Tato Laviera
  • Other selected poems, manifestos, and essays

Pre-requisite: Spanish 250 or Spanish 251

Counts as a 270-level elective for the Spanish major.


Spanish 275: Exploring Hispanic Literature: Artistic Portraits and Intertexts in Hispanic Literature
Prerequisite: Spanish 250 or Spanish 251
Prof. Kristina Medina-Vilariño  T 1:20-2:45 / Th 2:15-3:35

Ferdinand de Saussure and Julia Kristeva, key figures in the fields of cultural anthropology, linguistics, and literary theory, have argued that the meaning transferred from reader to writer is always mediated by a set of codes previously established by other texts.  In literature, these sets of codes often stem from previous artistic works, such as paintings, fashion designs, artistic movements, films, or literary texts. In this class students will explore literary texts from different genres (poetry, short stories, essays, theater, and novel (such as La contadora de películas de Hernán Rivera Letelier) and epochs (from Golden Age to Postmodernism), which make implicit or explicit reference to other forms of art.  In order to analyze each text, we will (a) learn and apply different literary approaches to form and content, and (b) establish a dialogue between the multiple codes embedded in them.  Some of the works to be discussed are: “Fábula de Polifemo y Galatea,” a poem by Luis de Góngora´s poem; La contadora de cuentos, a short novel by Hernán Rivera Letelier; and La cuarterona by Alejandro Tapia y Rivera. Students will be provided with most texts via public web access.


  • Novel: La contadora de películas de Hernán Rivera Letelier (please buy online, it will not be available at St. Olaf College’s bookstore.)
  • Theater: La cuarterona by Alejandro Tapia y Rivera(please buy online, it will not be available at St. Olaf College’s bookstore.)
  • Other readings via Moodle. 

This course is required for the Spanish major.


Spanish 276:  Spanish as a First and Second Language
Prerequisite: Spanish 250 or Spanish 251
Prof. Maggie Broner
MWF 11:50-12:45

¿Qué significa hablar bien una lengua? ¿Qué lenguas tienen poder en Estados Unidos y el mundo hispanohablante? ¿Por qué es el español una lengua minoritaria en los Estados Unidos? ¿Por qué se enseña el español como una lengua extranjera y no como una segunda lengua en los Estados Unidos? ¿Por qué los libros de texto de español introducen el uso de “vosotros” pero no “vos”? ¿Qué es Spanglish y quién lo habla? This course will critically explores these, and other, questions related to the acquisition and use of Spanish as first, Heritage, and second language in a social context. The course introduces the cognitive and social processes involved in learning, acquiring, and using Spanish as a second language.  In addition, Span 276 explores Spanish as a first and Heritage language through the study of the different varieties of Spanish spoken in the Spanish-speaking world, with particular emphasis on Spanish and English bilingualism in the U.S.. The questions also invite us to look at the intersections between language, power, and identity. In order to do all this, this course will introduce some foundational notions from the fields of Second Language Acquisition, Hispanic Linguistics and sociolinguistics.

Tentative reading list:

  • Packet of journal articles and book chapters (available through the Bookstore)
  • El español a través de la lingüística by Jennifer Ewald and Anne Edstrom (available through the Bookstore)
  • Mi mundo adoraro by Supreme Justice Sonia Sotomayor (available through the Bookstore)
  • Materiales para Span 276 course handouts available through the Bookstore)

This course is required for the Spanish major

Counts for Linguistic Studies concentration

Counts for RACE


Spanish 313: Literature and Society in Spain “What Is a Meaningful Life?”
Prerequisite: Spanish 250 or Spanish 251; and Spanish 275
Prof. León Narváez, MWF 8:00-8:55
  • What is a meaningful life? How do human beings vary in their understanding of that life? What do they seem to communicate as to the nature of a meaningful life? What do Spanish writers of the past convey about the possibility of leading a life that has meaning? There is a general focus in our society on happiness and ‘the pursuit of happiness’. How does happiness relate to having a life of meaning?

As we consider these questions and others, we will read some of the works that mattered to me when I was a teenager and in my twenties. We will explore together how they had an impact on my life, how they influenced my view of the meaningful life, as well as your understanding of these works. I will have the opportunity to consider again the importance of literature in my life and for you to consider its importance, if any, in yours.

What we will read may include: 

  • Lazarillo de Tormes, a novel by an unknown author
  • selections from El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha, a novel by Miguel de Cervantes
  • Don Juan Tenorio, a play by José Zorrilla
  • Pepita Jiménez, a novel by Juan Valera
  • essays written by José Mariano de Larra and Azorín
  • San Manuel Bueno, Mártir, a novel written by Miguel de Unamuno
  • poetry written by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, Federico García Lorca, and others
  • Historia de una escalera, a play by Antonio Buero Vallejo

Either Spanish 313 or 314 is required for the Spanish major

Can count as a 300-elective if you’ve already taken 314 or 313 with a different topic

Counts as a “focus on Spain” course


Spanish 399: Seminar in Literature, “The Culinary Metaphor in Latin American Literature: Examples from Mexico and Cuba”
Prerequisite: Spanish 250 or Spanish 251 and at least on 270-level course
Prof. Ariel Strichartz, T 11:45-1:10 / Th 12:45-2:05

Do you think of the kitchen as a space associated with servitude and tedious tasks, or as a site of creative freedom? What is the connection between the kitchen (and the domestic sphere it represents) and the public sphere thought to exist beyond its reach? Why has society traditionally discounted as menial the work of a female cook in a domestic kitchen, while praising as an elevated art form that of a male chef? How might culinary acts such as cooking, feeding, and eating perpetuate, destabilize, or invert systems of power? In acts such as eating when one element or body is subsumed within another, which can be said to have more power?

In this course, we will explore the many representations of “food spaces” such as kitchens and dining rooms and the acts–cooking, feeding, and eating–associated with them. Through the analysis of selected narrative works (novels and short stories), plays, essays, and films that span several centuries of cultural production from Mexico and Cuba, we will investigate the metaphorical capabilities of food, “el medio simbólico por excelencia,” for responding to a wide range of Latin American sociopolitical contexts. Our analysis of literary works will be enriched and informed by a series of theoretical and conceptual readings from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including philosophy, theology, and anthropology.

Tentative primary works include the novels El hombre, la hembra y el hambre (Daína Chaviano, Cuba) and Como agua para chocolate (Laura Esquivel, Mexico); the plays El gordo y el flaco (Virgilio Piñera, Cuba); Cocinar el amor (Hugo Salcedo, Mexico); and the stories “Lección de cocina” (Rosario Castellanos, Mexico); and “El lobo, el bosque y el hombre nuevo” (Senel Paz, Cuba).

In addition to analyzing the literary representation of all things culinary, we’ll also explore the interdisciplinary field of food studies and its relevance for the study of Latin America. Throughout the semester, students will carry out an individual project within food studies related to one of their academic areas of study or interest (biology; political science; anthropology; economics; pre-health professions; etc.) and within a Latin American context.

Counts as a “focus on Latin America” course for the Spanish major

Counts as a 300-level elective for the Spanish major