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Hispanophone Literature and History

Course Overview

This course is designed as a continuation of Advanced Spanish II. This class is divided into two sections: History and Literature. In the History section, the students will be studying about the different groups that conquered and lived in the Iberian Peninsula and how the Spanish language arrived in the Americas during the colonization period. This will help the students to understand the origin of the Spanish language, its evolution, and how some words in English share the same Latin root. Students will be exposed to different Spanish dialects from the Iberian Peninsula, Latin America, and the United States and understand some phonological variations. The Literature section will be an introduction to some canonical readings through an introductory timeline from the literature of Spanish conquest in the New World to different literary movements such as Baroque, Modernism, New Novel, and Boom. Students will engage in class discussions about different interpretations and analysis after reading poetry, short stories, and extracts from various novels such as Don Quixote.

Course Content

History of the Language: Unit 1

The main objective of this first unit is to gain general knowledge about the pre-Roman languages in Hispania, the Indo-European languages and its evolution to nowadays, the origin of the Spanish language, Latin as the Roman language and its evolution in Hispania, and the romance languages. The objective of this unit is to learn the history of the Spanish language while students engage in class discussions, listen to speakers of Latin, work with interactive maps and prepare class presentations.

History of the Language: Unit 2

The students will study about derivative words cultismos and patrimonialismos and how the English and Spanish language adopted some of the same words. The phonological evolution of Latin to medieval Spanish and to current times by reading a text in Old Castilian, how phonological sounds change with time due to the minimum effort laws. The students will also listen to different Spanish speakers to identify their linguistic variations. The objective of this unit is that students learn to think critically about languages, that it is always evolving and constantly changing according to social and cultural aspects within communities.

History of the Language: Unit 3

The students will study the Arabic influence in the Spanish language as well as the Amerindian languages and borrowed Spanish words incorporated into English. The students will also learn about different dialects such as Judeo-Spanish, Aragon, and Galician. Finally, they will study and learn about different Latino immigrant groups, how they arrived in the United States (Cesar Chávez, Cuban and Puerto Rican immigration), and the different dialects and aspects of these groups’ languages compared to the Spanish spoken in Latin America and Spain. The objective of this unit is to understand language contact due to the interaction of different varieties of languages, how they have influenced each other and will continue influencing over time.

Literature – Unit 1

In this unit the students will read some letters of Cristobal Colón and Hernan Cortés, as well as Nahuatl poems. The students will analyze these letters and poems by participating in classroom discussions and compare both points of view, from the conqueror and conquered perspective. They will also read an overview of the Poema del Mio Cid during the medieval narrative in Spain and its importance.

Literature – Unit 2

In this unit the student will read some extracts of literature pieces. They will start studying the Renaissance period and read some chapters of Don Quijote during the Golden Era of Spain. Then the students will study the Baroque movement and its characteristics in Spain and Latin America, read and analyze poetry from Francisco de Quevedo, expressing the decline of Spain, to the feminism in Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz in Latin America. The students will learn about Neoclassicism and Romanticism movements and read some extracts from Civilización y Barbarie and Facundo by Sarmiento, where he describes his perception about the Native Americans and the gaucho. Finally, the students will compare these last two literary works with some sections of Martín Fierro by José Hernandez who dignified the gaucho in contrast to Sarmiento.

Literature – Unit 3

During this unit, the students will study the modernism movement with Ruben Darío, who addressed different social problems from the time, by analyzing his poem Para una cubana. They will study the Vanguardism movement and read poems by Pablo Neruda. The class will engage in a discussion while analyzing the topics in his poems like love and praising banal subjects. Finally, the students will learn about Alfonsina Storni and her discourse about the female role in society. The students will also be introduced to the Ethnocentrism movement with Nicolas Guillén who gave importance to new voices that once were marginalized.

Literature – Unit 4

In this last unit, the students will study about the narrative in the Modernism movement with Jorge Luis Borges and the philosophical concepts in his stories about cyclical time and the search for the absolute by reading some of his short stories Borges y yo and El libro de arena. Then they will study about the Boom and the New Novel movements with García Márquez and Julio Cortazar, where the students will learn how the Latin American revolutions influenced the work of these authors. The students will read Magic Realism extracts to discuss the real and imaginary elements as well as some short stories. Finally, they will study about the Post Boom novel and Postmodernism by reading a short story by Elena Poniatowska.