Why take courses in this discipline?

The study of Spanish at Grinnell is an interdisciplinary immersion in Spanish-speaking cultures worldwide. You’ll live the language in class, at weekly tables and labs and special events, talk with visiting guests and scholars, and enjoy study-abroad and internship opportunities in Latin America and Spain. Related concentrations include gender, women’s, and sexuality studies; Latin American studies; global development; linguistics; European studies; and film and media studies. Majors often pursue advanced degrees or careers in public health, social work, international relations, law, or bilingual education.

How does this discipline contribute to the liberal arts?

Courses in Spanish involve language study, writing/communication, human behavior, and creative expression.

What kinds of questions are asked in this discipline?

Courses in Spanish examine the diverse cultural achievements of Latin America, Latinx America, and Spain, and they enable students to respond with intelligence and sensitivity to other cultures. The department seeks to develop in students from all disciplines the critical ability to identify problems and view them from multiple perspectives: cultural, historical, literary, and linguistic. The growing importance of bilingual areas in urban America underscores the advisability of Spanish-language study for careers in health care, bilingual education, community development, and social services.

How does a student get started?

All entering students who have previously studied Spanish will receive an email in mid-July with a link to take the online Spanish placement exam. The online placement exam will be open through the end of July. The department will use the placement exam results along with high school transcripts to determine appropriate placement. Students will receive their placement notification via email in August. Should the department not be able to give a clear placement with the information collected from the placement exam and the high school transcript, students will be invited via email to have an oral interview with a Spanish faculty during New Student Orientation in order to recommend the appropriate starting point for each student. Students having the oral interview will be notified of their placement via email before they meet with Tutorial advisers to plan their schedules for the fall. Should students decide to take Spanish, they must enroll in the course recommended by the Spanish department.

The placement exam is only given to the entering class during the month of July. All students should receive their Spanish placement before registering for their first semester in Grinnell regardless of their plans to take Spanish courses at Grinnell. Therefore, all students are strongly encouraged to complete the online placement exam. In addition, students might consult with the department during New Student Orientation if they have any questions about their placement. Several academic programs have a language requirement; therefore, students will have to know their Spanish placement if they are pursuing a program with a language requirement.

In order to assure that students fulfill the language requirements to study in an off-campus Spanish program and benefit from all the opportunities available to them there, we strongly recommend early planning and enrollment in Spanish courses starting in their first semester of study in Grinnell.

Basic Language Sequence (2 semesters, SPN 105 and 106): The first two semesters of Spanish stress oral communication with attention to grammar in context, writings, and reading. They do not count towards a major.

The third-semester Spanish (SPN 217) offers a quick review of grammar points and introduces students to longer readings and discussions. Prerequisite: 106 or placement by department. It counts towards the major.

The fourth semester (SPN 285) continues to emphasize language skills while at the same time introducing students to basic textual analysis of readings, films, and visual art from Latin America and Spain. Prerequisite: 217 or placement by department. It counts towards the major.

AP/IB Credit

A score of 4 or 5 on the AP Spanish Language or AP Spanish Literature exam; a score of 5 or higher on the IB Spanish Language or Spanish Literature exam; a score of B or higher on the A-Level exam; or a score of 2 or higher on the CAPE exam would count for four credits in the Humanities Division, but would not count as credits toward the major.

Courses in Spanish

All Courses in Spanish

Regular Low 300-Level Courses

  • Constructing Identities in Independent Latin America
  • Women and Gender and Spanish Literature
  • Studies in Modern Spanish Literature
  • Creativity and Dissidence in Modern Latin America
  • Readings in Latinx Literature and Culture
  • Cultures of the Spanish Speaking World
  • The Art of Language

Regular 300-Level Seminars

  • Modernization and Innovation in Contemporary Latin America
  • U.S. Latinx Identities and Sexualities
  • The Latin American Colonial World
  • Spanish Dialectology
  • Studies in Contemporary Spanish Literature and Film
  • Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Spanish Literature

Recent Special Topics

  • Designing Empire: Plazas, Power, and Urban Planning in Habsburg Spain and Its Colonies
  • SPN 395: Caravans, Gangs, Drugs: Central America?
  • SPN 395: Afrowomen and Religious Exemplarity in Spanish and Latin American Colonial Literature
  • SPN 295-01: Learning from the Latinx Community

Sample Four-Year Plan for a Spanish Major

There is no typical four-year plan for a Spanish major. The following provides scenarios for a student beginning in SPN 105 or a student beginning in SPN 217.

Year Fall Spring
First SPN 105 or 217 SPN 106 or 285
Second SPN 217 or low-3XX SPN 285 or low-3XX
Third SPN low-3XX or SPN 3XX (seminar) or off-campus study SPN low-3XX or SPN 3XX (seminar) or off-campus study
Fourth SPN 3XX (seminar) SPN 3XX (seminar)

Off-Campus Study

Many Spanish majors study at programs in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, and Spain.

Contributions to Other Majors/Concentrations

Courses in Spanish contribute to concentrations in:

Department Events and Opportunities

Opportunities: Spanish Table, Spanish House, Hora Cultural, Spanish Lab, Spanish SEPC

Awards: Helena Percas de Ponseti Award (excellence in the major), Dennis Perri Award (dedication to the major), James C. Randall ’94 Memorial Fellowship (research or internship in a Spanish-speaking country), Spanish Summer Internship Fellowship (internship in the U.S. using the Spanish language)

Student Organizations with Which the Spanish Department Has Collaborated: Crecemos Unidos, Student Organization for Latinos/Latinas (SOL)

Internships and community service involving Latino communities can be found through the Center of Career, Life, and Service.

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