The Spanish-Speaking World: Cultural Crossings

Fall 2014, Winter 2015 and Spring 2015 quarters

Taught by

Spanish language, Latin American studies
Spanish language, Latin American literature

Spain and Latin America share not only the Spanish language but also an intertwined history of complex cultural crossings. The cultures of both arose from dynamic and sometimes violent encounters and continue to be shaped by uneven power relationships as well as vibrant forms of resistance. In this program, students will engage in an intensive study of the Spanish language and explore cultural production by Spaniards and Latin Americans in historical context. Every week will include seminars on readings in English, Spanish language classes, a lecture or workshop conducted in Spanish and a Spanish-language film. There will be regular written seminar responses, synthesis essays and a winter-quarter research project. Please note that Spanish language classes are integrated into the program, so students do not have to register for them separately. We welcome students with any level of Spanish, from true beginner to advanced. No previous study of Spanish is required to enter in the fall.

Fall quarter, we will explore cultural crossings in Spain and Latin America prior to the 20th century. We will study the coexistence of Jews, Christians and Muslims in medieval Spain and the suppression of Jewish and Muslim communities during the Spanish Inquisition. We will also examine violence against indigenous peoples and Africans during Spain's process of imperial expansion and how subsequent colonial institutions were contested by diverse resistance movements, including Latin America's struggles for independence in the 19th century. Our readings will include historical accounts as well as contemporary cultural products that reexamine and reimagine these encounters.

Winter quarter, we will turn to the 20th and 21st centuries in Latin America, with emphasis on the roles of class, gender and ethnicity in various groups' struggles to contest unequal power relations and determine their own futures. Possible cases include: ethnic and national movements in the Caribbean; ongoing issues of land, violence and sovereignty in Mexico; indigenism and indigeneity in Mexico, Guatemala and Peru; legacies of the Nicaraguan revolution; roles of new social movements in transitions to democracy in the Southern Cone; and the impact of unprecedented migration in the Americas. In each of these contexts, we will explore the interrelationships between politics and cultural production and how literature and film can impact processes of social change.

Spring quarter offers two options for study abroad and an internship option with local Latino organizations for those who stay on campus. The Santo Tomás, Nicaragua, program is coordinated with the Thurston-Santo Tomás Sister County Association and its counterpart in Nicaragua and is open to 4-8 intermediate/advanced language students. The Mérida, Mexico option is co-coordinated with HABLA Language and Culture Center, and is open to 15 or more students of all language levels.  For students staying in Olympia, the program will have an on-campus core of Spanish classes and seminars focused on Latino/a communities in the U.S. and the opportunity for student-originated projects and/or internships. All classes during spring quarter, in Olympia and abroad, will be conducted entirely in Spanish.

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

Latin American and international studies, literary and cultural studies, Spanish language, politics, history, education, film studies, writing, and human and social services.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day

Final Schedule and Room Assignment


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Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

More information about online learning.

Required Fees

$100 per quarter in fall and winter for overnight field trips.

Internship Possibilities

Students remaining on campus spring quarter may intern with organizations serving local Latino/a communities. Students must complete an In-program Internship Learning Contract (designed for this program) in consultation with the faculty and Academic Advising.

Study Abroad

Mexico or Nicaragua, 10 weeks, spring, approximately $4700 for Mexico (15 or more students at all language levels) or approximately $3600 for Nicaragua (4-8 intermediate/advanced language students), plus airfare.  A deposit of $250 is due by Feb 1, 2015.

May be offered again in


Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter); 16 (Spring)

Variable Credit Options

Variable credit is available in spring, based upon internship options.

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 50


Course Reference Number

So - Sr (16 credits): 10153

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Accepting New Students

Signature Required

Admission will be based upon a Spanish language assessment.  Please contact faculty at the academic fair or via email ( for more information.

Course Reference Number

So - Sr (16 credits): 20085

Go to to register for this program.


Accepting New Students

Signature Required

Admission will be based upon a Spanish language assessment. Please contact faculty at the academic fair or via email ( for more information.

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16 credits): 30063
So - Sr (1-16 credits): 30064

Go to to register for this program.

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