Featured Courses

Featured Fall 2020 Courses

Brazillian Women Writers

Portuguese/Gender & Women’s Studies 450

9:55-10:45am MW (in-person) F (online)
387 Van Hise Hall

Conceição Evaristo
Conceição Evaristo
Clarice Lispector writing
Clarice Lispector

In alignment with the #ReadWomen movement, this course, offered in English and taught by Professor Kathryn Sánchez, is a celebration of some of the most engaging women writers from Brazil.

The course aims to introduce students to selected works by contemporary Brazilian women writers and film directors with an emphasis on the complex web interconnecting representations of nationality, race, class, ethnicity, gender, and sexualities. Readings will include a variety of different forms of writing such as poetry, short stories, five novels, and chronicle and journalistic texts in constant dialog with popular and contemporary film constructions of Brazil and its people. A significant part of the course will be dedicated to the fascinating existentialist and experimental work of Clarice Lispector.

The class discussions will center on fantasies/quests of female subjecthood, women’s rights, engendered violence, race and racial discrimination, family dynamics, women and disabilities, blackness, biracial relationships, Afro-Futurism, women in the context of slavery and feminist activism in specific historical contexts, and vis-à-vis pervasive national myths of racial democracy and pluralistic expressions of identities.

No prior knowledge of Brazil is needed, and background information will be provided throughout the course to give students the tools necessary for understanding Brazil and the representation of women through these chosen texts and films.

In-class discussions will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays. Friday classes are online at the students’ convenience with films available for home streaming.

Evaristo, Conceição. Ponciá Vicencio.
Felinto, Marilene. The Women of Tijucopapo
Lisboa, Adriana. Symphony in White
Lispector, Clarice. The Hour of the Star &
The Passion According to G. H.

Pereira, Djaimila. That Hair

Short stories, poetry, and other selected writings by:
Hilda Hilst, Adelaide Ivánova, Ana Cristina Cesar, Natália Polesso, Angélica Freitas, Edla Van Steen, and Carolina Maria de Jesus

Mc Kbela (2013, Dir. Yasmin Thayná)
The Edge of Democracy (2019, Dir. Petra Costa)
Paris Square (2017, Dir. Lúcia Murat)
Sultry (2018, Dir. Marina Meliande)
The Second Mother (2015, Dir. Anna Muylaert)
Good Manners (2018, Dir. Juliana Rojas)

requisite: Sophomore (or higher) Standing

back to top


First Semester Spanish for Spanish Speakers

Spanish 206

2:25-3:15pm MTWTh
2341 Engineering Hall

This is course is catered to students who grew up in a primarily Spanish-speaking home or community, and, as a result, speak and/or understand the language. It is also designed for students who feel a cultural connection to Spanish through their childhood and who have worked on their proficiency through prior coursework. The course provides a comfortable setting for students to increase their level of confidence in speaking, listening, reading, and writing Spanish, and enhances their linguistic repertoire in each of these realms. We accomplish this by leveraging, valuing, and honoring pre-existing skills with the language coming from any variety or varieties of Spanish. We also place emphasis on the cultural background of individual students, and share experiences so as to gain knowledge about the richness of diversity across Spanish-speaking communities. Through the approach described here, a main goal of the course is to promote a reaffirmation of students’ pride with respect to their heritage language and culture.

requisite: Consent of Instructor

back to top

Topics in Spanish Language Practice

Spanish 319
On Translating Cultures and Disciplines

9:55-10:45am MWF
382 Van Hise Hall

(also offered Summer 2020 from July 13-August 9)

This course, offered by Dr. Sarli E. Mercado, focuses on further developing students’ knowledge of Spanish through an introduction to the practice of translation of texts from different disciplines. We will draw texts from journalism, literary studies, urban and gender studies, public health and environmental cultural studies, religious, legal, and ethnic studies in order to discuss the ideas, topics, and issues on language or current events they present while using translation (into English or Spanish) as a deeper reading in both individual or group projects. By considering the meaning and subsequent practice of translation, students will also learn that it is not mainly a simple substitution of one word for another in a different language or merely an exercise of capturing the sense of a phrase, rather, the course will demonstrate that translation is a complex process of moving from “original” to “copy” and that in fact it involves traveling between cultures.

With an intensive oral and written practice, the course includes a review of important grammatical points, as well as the acquisition of useful concepts and key vocabulary from different disciplines. Theoretical approaches to translations will also be introduced — including the ideas from scholar and theorists such as JL Borges, Lawrence Venuti, George Steiner, and Ezra Pound, among others — in order to consider a wider concept of translation. In other words, students will leave the course knowing about the various ways in which translations of texts have also been responsible for much of the communication not only among disciplines but mainly between peoples and cultures. Finally, the course includes the opportunity to participate in translation workshops conducted by invited guest writers and translators of the 4W – Living Poetry: Women in Translation Workshop and to create a bilingual Cartonera Book as a final group project.

requisite: Spanish 311

back to top

Advanced Spanish Phonetics

Spanish 420

1:00-2:15pm TTh
491 Van Hise Hall

This course, taught by Professor Rajiv Rao, builds upon the knowledge of sound classifications obtained in Spanish 320 by connecting the topics discussed there with concrete physical speech signals. We will learn to detect vocal fold vibration, evidence of tongue position, degree of closure between two organs, and friction caused by organ configuration, among other features, through the use of specialized software called Praat© (free download – this tool is currently used in many industries and knowing how to use it is a practical skill you can add to your résumé), and will also discuss sound experimental designs. We will identify a specific set of sound system challenges that speakers of English face when learning Spanish. With regard to all of these issues, we will discuss address perception and production data, and data coming from native speakers and/or second language learners (that you collect from your own social network – that is, you will be researchers and your friends and family will be your participants!). Comparisons between Spanish data and those of English and other Romance languages will be made throughout the course.

requisite: Spanish 320

back to top

Topics in Spanish Linguistics

Spanish 446
Mayan Languages and Linguistics

1:00-2:15pm TTh
394 Van Hise

This new course, taught by Professor Grant Armstrong, is an introduction to the indigenous Mayan language family. When most people hear ‘Maya’ or ‘Mayan’ they think of pyramids and an ancient civilization that mysteriously disappeared.

In reality, Mayan culture and language are still a vital part of daily life for over six million people in southern Mexico, Central America, and also in immigrant communities in the US. The Mayan languages have fascinating sound systems and grammars that have greatly contributed to theories of how human language works. Additionally, Mayan people have been at the center of recent social and political movements about the civil, human, and linguistic rights of indigenous communities.

This course takes a broad look at various linguistic topics in the Mayan-speaking world. We will first learn what the Mayan languages are and how they differ from one another in terms of sounds, words, and sentence structure. Then we will study the characteristics of Spanish spoken in Mayan-speaking regions of Mexico and Guatemala, discussing how certain aspects of these varieties of Spanish have been influenced by the Mayan languages with which they are in contact. Finally, we will discuss recent social and political issues in which language plays a vital role, which include language attitudes, political and economic power, and education. While the class centers on linguistic issues, students are encouraged to develop projects that incorporate their own interests in other relevant fields. Readings will be in Spanish and English and the class will be conducted entirely in Spanish.

requisite: In addition to advanced Spanish proficiency, the recommended prerequisite is an introductory linguistics course (in Spanish or another language). However, the course may be taken with the consent of the instructor in the absence of this prerequisite.

back to top

Border & Race Studies in Latin America

Spanish 478

1:00-2:15pm TTh
479 Van Hise Hall

Border WallThis course, taught by Professor Paola Hernández, takes into consideration the various meanings of the word “border” or “frontera”. What is a border, geographically speaking? What does it mean in political and legal terms? How do we conceive the border in cultural, literary, linguistic, political, judicial, and personal ways? What is like to live on the border or on the margins? It is said that the border is a contact zone, a meeting point, a way to transfer and share information, an invitation to (in)tolerance and ex/inclusion. We will read texts both in English and Spanish from history, politics, cultural anthropology, literature, and theatre and performance to grasp the vast understanding of what is life on the border. All instruction and discussion will be in Spanish.

requisites: Spanish 223 and 224

back to top

Find these and all other Spanish and Portuguese course offerings in the UW-Madison Course Search & Enroll!