Romance Languages & Literatures

Spines of books in French

The Department of Romance Languages & Literatures offers courses in the French and Francophone, Italian, Portuguese and Luso- Brazilian, Spanish and Latin American literary traditions. Undergraduates may pursue a Concentration or Secondary Fields in these areas.

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Kathy Richman
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Undergraduate Program Coordinator: Cathy Downey

Gateway Courses

Spring 2022



FRENCH 70C: Introduction to Francophone Literature
Matthew Rodriguez

This course offers a survey of the vast landscape of literary and cultural production of the French-speaking world. We will read and examine works by writers from the Maghreb, West Africa, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean, and Québec, as we consider how literature amends historical narratives, maps individual and collective experiences, and grapples with the legacies of colonialism, slavery, and empire. Attending closely to works of literature as both aesthetic forms and historical, cultural objects, we will see how the contributions and innovations of Francophone writers intervene in and shape some of the most urgent discussions in literary studies (and beyond) on race, gender and sexuality, memory, justice, and nature and the environment. Readings may include works by Maryse Condé, Abdellah Taïa, Assia Djebar, Nathatcha Appanah, Ousmane Sembène, and Patrick Chamoiseau.

FRENCH 112: Lyric Poetry in Medieval and Renaissance France (12th to 16th Century)
Virginie Greene

Medieval and Renaissance poets created both new poetic forms and new figures of poets. Singers, writers, composers, lovers, dreamers, rhetoricians, moralists, and preachers: poets could be all of those. This course studies how their poetry grew from and elaborated upon the impulse "I have to sing'' (chanter m'estuet) to become a highly self-conscious art of writing.

FRENCH 135: Under the Table/Sous la Table
Janet Beizer

An exploration of the underbelly of the flourishing of the culinary arts in France, from pre-revolution to today, with a focus on the 19th century. Pairings of novels, newspaper articles, etc celebrating gastronomy with others exposing how such a flourishing was facilitated. Weekly units might be : sugar ; rum ; spices ; working class ; slaves (etc)


ITAL 165: Preparing the Revolution: Machiavelli, Gramsci, and the People
Francesco Erspamer

Mostly dedicated to two Italian thinkers four centuries apart, this seminar explores the rise and development of modern populism, and suggests that culture and the arts are indispensable characteristics of good government. Readings include Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince and The Art of War, and Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks.


SPANSH 70C: Tales of Two Spains: A Survey of Spanish Modern Literature and Culture (18th to 21st Centuries)
Daniel Aguirre-Oteiza

This course presents a diverse set of literary and cultural materials that will help understand Spain’s frequently contested Modernity. The guiding topic of discussion will be the conflicting definitions of Spanish national identity from the 18th to the 21stcenturies. Materials include short stories, philosophical and political essays, travelers’ letters, memoirs, journals, travelogues, films and poems.


SPANSH 150: Migration and Border-Crossing in Film and Photography
Raquel Vega-Duran


From an interdisciplinary perspective, this course explores the ways in which film and photography recount past and present human migrations, and how they contribute to and question the construction of the social imaginary of the migrant. Focusing on migrations particularly related to Spanish-speaking countries, we will examine themes such as "global” vs. “local”; conceptions of hybridity, otherness, belonging, border, assimilation, and neo-racism; the paradoxical nature of the “migrant”;  the role of history, language, religion, and culture in the acceptance and rejection of foreigners; the relationship between border and identity; the feminization of migrations; the use of the term "illegal" in relation to migrations; and the emergence of “new" identities; among others. We will learn how to analyze the complexities of film and photography, considering movies, documentaries, photographs, and other visual materials which cover past and present migrations from Africa, America, Asia, and Europe. We will also study the history of migrations, and will examine the intricacies of the concept of migrant (as both emigrant and immigrant), paying particular attention to the different stages of migrants' journeys (the departure from the home country; the crossing of transit countries and borders; the arrival; and the settlement or forced deportation). No previous knowledge of film or photography required.


SPANSH 157: Thinking Beyond the Human: Persons, Things, and the Environment in Latin American Culture
Diana Sorensen


The 21st Century forces us to rethink the relationships between humans, nonhumans and the things we make and discard.  This course invites you to re-situate yourself in the planet by considering our interaction with the world and its manifold things through the study of Latin American culture.


SPANSH 178: Queer Latinidad: Race, Sex, and Power in the U.S.
Jorge Sanchez Cruz


This course investigates the slippages between queerness and Latinidad. We will explore the contested terrain of the X—a colonial wound, a trace of enslavement, and a condition of crossing the borderlands—and, at the same time, engage with literary, cultural, and theoretical interventions that contour the fields of Latinx studies and queer studies.




ROM-STD 153: Ecology as Non-Human Sociology. A Critical Counter-History
Emanuele Coccia


This seminar aims to critically retrace the history of the concepts and ideas that have guided ecological research from its foundation in 18th century Europe to the present day. The point of arrival will be the definition of a new perspective that goes beyond the notion of species. Among the authors to be read: Isaac Biberg, Daniel Wilcke, Christopher Gedner, Alexander von Humboldt, August Grisebach, Hewett Watson, Karl Moebius, Frederic Clements, Arthur Tansley, Henry Gleason, Charles Elton, Raymond Lindeman, Karl von Frisch.