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Willamette University

900 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301

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Latin American Studies View this department's website

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.

Requirements for the Latin American Studies Major (9 Credits)

One credit from Politics or History:

Any course with a Politics or History designation/prefix (POLI or HIST) that is approved as an LAS course. The following courses are automatically approved: POLI 362 Latin American Politics, HIST 256 Colonial Latin America, HIST 258 Modern Latin America. Also, every semester check the Course Schedule on the web for possible additional offerings under this category. Honors in Latin American Studies is awarded to all graduating students with a GPA of 3.8 or greater within the major.

Note: No double counting any courses used for other categories, i.e., Politics or History, People and Place, or Language and Literature.

One credit from People and Place:

  • LAS 251 (US) Latin American Cultures (1)
  • LAS 330 Landscapes and Cultures of South America (1)
  • LAS 331 Landscapes and Cultures of Middle America (1)

Note: No double counting any courses used for other categories, i.e., Politics or History, People and Place, or Language and Literature.

Four Credits from Society and Culture: 

  • ANTH 235 Cultures of Mexico and Ecuador
  • HIST 256 Colonial Latin America (1)
  • HIST 258 Modern Latin America (1)
  • LAS 330 Landscapes and Cultures of South America (1)
  • LAS 331 Landscapes and Cultures of Middle America (1)
  • LAS 380 Latin American Cinema [Crosslisted with SPAN 380] (1)
  • POLI 362 Latin American Politics
  • POLI 376 Latin American Revolutions (1)
  • REL 334 Liberation Theology amd Social Change (1)
  • SOC 131 Sociological Inquiry: Latina/o Sociology (1)
  • SOC 315 Social Movements, Collective Action, and Protest
  • SPAN 333 (TH) Hispanic Civilization (1)

Also, every semester check the Course Schedule on the web for possible additional offerings under this category

Note:  No double counting any courses used for other categories, i.e., Politics or History, People and Place, or Language and Literature.

Two credits from Language and Literature

  • ENGL 381 Latin @ Countercultures Digital Research Project (1)
  • SPAN 355 (IT) Latin American Literature I: Conquest to Modernismo (1)
  • SPAN 356 (IT) Latin American Literature II: Modernismo to the Present (1)
  • SPAN 427 Topics in Latin American Literature (1)
  • SPAN 428 Contemporary Mexican Literature (1)
  • SPAN 430 History of Hispanic Thought (1)
  • SPAN 431  Contemporary Latin American Novel and Short Story (1)
  • SPAN 435 Contemporary Latin American Women Writers (1)

Note: No double counting any courses used for other categories, i.e., Politics or History, People and Place, or Language Literature.

One credit Senior Thesis:

In the fall of your senior year, all LAS majors must take LAS 497(W), Senior Thesis in Latin American Studies.

Requirements for the Latin American Studies Minor (5 Credits)

  • One credit from Politics or History
  • One credit from People and Place
  • Two credits from Society and Culture
  • One credit from Language and Literature

Indicators of Achievement

Student Learning Outcomes for the Latin American Studies Major

  1. Interdisciplinary understanding of Latin America, including perspectives from various disciplines in the social sciences and humanities
  2. Proficiency in Spanish
  3. First-hand experience in Latin America and/or with Latinos in the U.S.
  4. Exposure to service-learning in Latin America and/or with Latinos in the U.S.
  5. Excellence in analysis of issues related to Latin America

Faculty


Course Listings

LAS 251 (US) Latin American Cultures (1)

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.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Chambers

LAS 330 Landscapes and Cultures of South America (1)

This course is designed to serve as an introduction to the lands and peoples of South America. The nature of the colonial experience is of primary concern to us, with similarities and differences drawn between the operation of the two great imperial powers, Spain and Portugal.

  • Offering: Alternate springs
  • Instructor: Chambers

LAS 331 Landscapes and Cultures of Middle America (1)

Landscapes and Cultures of Middle America is designed to serve as a general introduction to the lands and peoples of Middle America, defined territorially as Mexico, Central America, and the Greater and Lesser Antilles. As our opening lecture will demonstrate, these geographical limits are increasingly blurred as the lives of North Americans are inexorably tied to those of our southern neighbors. The course will feature regular film screenings, with visual representations of Middle America reality drawn from several genres (documentary, drama, historical reconstruction).

  • Offering: Alternate springs
  • Instructor: Chambers

LAS 379 Latinos in U.S. Politics (1)

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

  • Offering: Alternate falls
  • Instructor: Staff

LAS 380 Latin American Cinema (1)

[Crosslisted with SPAN 380]

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.

  • Offering: Alternate years in fall
  • Instructor: Varas, Staff

LAS 497 (W) Senior Thesis in Latin American Studies (1)

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

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Staff