Hispanic Studies is a field in the Humanities broadly concerned with the languages and cultures of the vast “Hispanic” world, extending chronologically from Roman Hispania and pre-Columbian peoples to the present, and geographically from New York to Patagonia, from Spain and Equatorial Guinea to the Pacific coast of the Americas.
Our discipline studies cultural production—fundamentally literature, film, art, and other forms of representation, as well as language. Not only the fields but also the perspectives of these studies are multiple: as all disciplines dealing with cultural production, literature, and the arts, Hispanic Studies imply an array of philosophical, literary, aesthetical, historical, linguistic, anthropological and sociopolitical approaches and methods of analysis.
You can find examples of the kind of scholarly work that is done in Hispanic Studies by visiting our journal, Dissidences.
Traditionally, Spanish programs were mostly concerned with philology: the study of language in texts and the study of literature in historical perspective. Scholarly practices such as linguistics, language pedagogy, and bilingual education have influenced the field for many years. In recent decades, theoretical and inter-disciplinary endeavors such as cultural, post-colonial, ethnic and gender studies inform the scholarship in the area, now often called Hispanic Studies to indicate its richer, multi-faceted object of inquiry, which includes but transcends language.
Cultural studies are an attempt to broaden traditional patterns in the study of cultural production in order to include not only literature and the arts but also alternative creative languages and new and emerging forms of aesthetical, social, political, cultural and gender representation. While gender and ethnic studies focus on different ways of deconstructing and destabilizing exclusionary social and cultural knowledge and practices (e.g. from the point of view of feminism, subaltern, gay and lesbian, migration or border studies), post-colonial studies are concerned with the particular and often differing ways in which societies (i.e. Latin American nations and particularly Latin American minorities) are even now working through the aftermath of colonialism.
The Spanish Program at Bowdoin aims to prepare its students for three basic goals: (1) to effectively communicate in Spanish with professional command of the language; (2) to be knowledgeable in the past and present histories of the nations of the Hispanic world, its different social structures and interrelations as well as its current situation; and (3) to be informed, insightful analysts of the Hispanic cultural production, with a stress on Latin American and Spanish literature. The latter requires not only familiarity with works, genres, and historical periods, but also with the theoretical concepts, critical methods, and research skills necessary for rigorous, contextualized and astute readings.
The skills developed through the Spanish major and minor at Bowdoin serve our alumni in all walks of life. The ability to view and articulate experience from more than one cultural perspective and language, gives our graduates an edge in many professions such as business, law, medicine, international relations, education, journalism, politics, social work, communications, sociology, and anthropology. Of course, the program is an apt and comprehensive preparation for graduate studies in fields like Spanish and Latin American literatures, Hispanic linguistics, Latin American studies and arts, and comparative literature, among others.
Some of the ways in which our graduates use their intercultural skills to enrich and inform their life paths can be found in the Spanish Featured Alumni section.
Image: Ateneo Bookstore, Buenos Aires - photo by prof. Enrique Yepes