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Latin American Studies is an interdisciplinary program that combines subject matter and modes of inquiry from several academic disciplines to give the student a broad background encompassing the historical, political, social, and cultural aspects of the region. Students are encouraged to develop the analytical and evaluative skills that will enable them to gain a systematic understanding of the region. Majors demonstrate language proficiency in Spanish and are strongly encouraged to participate in a Willamette-sponsored program in Latin America.
The degree program in Latin American Studies affords the student a wide range of career opportunities in the United States and abroad. The rapid growth of the Latino population in the United States produces an increasing need for trained persons with a knowledge of the Latin American region to work in teaching, government, the nonprofit sector, journalism, business, and other fields. The major is also well-suited to students who wish to pursue graduate work in Latin American studies or other disciplines in which a Latin American specialization is helpful.
Eleven credits are required in the Latin American Studies major. These should be determined in consultation with a Latin American Studies academic advisor by the end of the sophomore year. A service learning component is also required for the major; it may be met by satisfactory completion of LAS 251 or (subject to prior faculty approval) by a service learning component in an approved study-abroad program. A minimum of six credits must be earned in residency at Willamette University. Credits that students earn in a Willamette-sponsored Latin American program may be substituted for course requirements listed below, subject to faculty approval. Credits to be earned abroad should be approved by the Latin American Studies faculty before the foreign study program begins.
Double majoring in Latin American Studies and International Studies (Latin American regional focus) is not permitted.
LAS Honors: Given to the graduating senior(s) with the highest GPA in the major (minimum: 3.7). No more than two students will receive LAS honors in a given year.
Students must take four credits in each of the three groups (A, B and C) but no more than two credits from any given group.
Minors will not take LAS 497 Senior Thesis in Latin American Studies.
This course is a historical-critical survey of the public discourse of Latino/Latinas in the United States from colonial times to the present. As such, we will focus significantly on such issues as language, establishment of identities, civil rights, immigration, the formation of communities, political participation, and cultural assimilation. In order to accomplish our task we will study the historical context of the discourse, prominent rhetors, and various pieces of discourse. Analyzing the environment out of which discourse springs, contributors to voice, and the arguments, styles, themes, and issues articulated is crucial for understanding Latino/Latina voices in the United States. This course will also count toward the Rhetoric & Media Studies major.
Mode of Inquiry: Analyzing Arguments, Reasons, and Values and Interpreting Texts.
This course provides an introduction to major aspects of Latin American Cultures (especially indigenous cultures), including the following: conquest history, ethnicity, national identity, religion, healing, politics, gender, media representations, Latinos in the U.S., and language. A service-learning component involves work with a local community agency serving Latinos.
This course examines films, features and documentaries, by and about Latin Americans. It focuses on the political, economic, social, and aesthetic tensions that characterize the region and contextualize cinematic production. It explores the constitution of Latin American cultural identity through film. Readings, written and oral work will be carried out in English.
This course presents the intellectual and material achievements of ancient Mesoamerican civilizations, particularly the Olmec, Zapotec, Teotihuacan, Maya, Toltec and Aztec; examines the contributions of humanistic and scientific approaches to understanding pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations; and looks at the enduring influences of Mesoamerican cultures in contemporary Mexico and Central America.
Mode of Inquiry: Interpreting Texts; Thinking Historically; Indigenous Peoples and Cultures Cluster
This course looks at the role of Latino national origin groups in shaping state and national politics in the United States. It examines the political history, voting behavior, and non-electoral political mobilization of the three largest Latino groups in the United States -- Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban, and questions the degree to which it is useful to conceive of a single Latino politics and Latino community. The course also focuses on specific public policies of concern to Latinos, and it pays particular attention to the transnational hemispheric processes that link U.S. Latinos to their countries of origin. Not open to freshmen.
Prerequisite: One POLI 100 or 200 level course, or one 200 level LAS course or consent of instructor
In the Senior Thesis, students are expected to integrate various components of the major program in the analysis of a topic of special interest. Topics must be proposed to and approved by the Latin American Studies faculty. The thesis will normally be written in English, but the incorporation of documentation and references in Spanish will be required. Also, a multi-page précis of the thesis in Spanish must accompany the thesis. The thesis is presented to a faculty examination committee upon its completion.
General Studies Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered
Prerequisite: Senior standing in Latin American Studies