Hispanic Studies at Brown has had a long and distinguished national and international reputation for more than seventy-five years, dating from its inception by such accomplished scholars as William Fichter, Juan López-Morillas, and Alan S. Trueblood. The Department of Hispanic Studies offers an in-depth introduction to Hispanic culture in a very broad sense, which gives students much more than the ability to communicate in the world’s third-most-spoken language. It prepares them to be able to understand a completely different national, continental, and global reality in all its complexity.
The aim of the Department of Hispanic Studies is twofold. At the undergraduate level it offers the possibility of learning the language and culture of both Spain and Latin America. At the graduate level it trains students to become effective teachers and scholars of Spanish language and culture. Instruction and supervision are arranged as to ensure that students acquire a broad understanding of the whole field of Spanish studies as well as a specialized grasp of one of its subfields, and are well prepared to develop independently as scholars. The various specialties of the faculty cover a wide range of areas, with teaching and research activities well integrated into a comprehensive whole. Consequently, students are trained as Hispanists in a broad sense in order to develop a field of specialization. Instruction in all of the courses is in Spanish, and the development of fluency in reading, speaking, and writing the language is an important goal in all courses.
Hispanic Studies at Brown also offers a wide array of literature and culture courses. Due to the nature of Hispanic culture, the development of a transatlantic approach is stressed. The department is a leader in the study of contemporary interactions among Spain, the United States, and Latin America in literature, the arts, film, and popular culture. It is internationally known not only for its academic rigor but also for its plurality of critical and theoretical approaches to the study of Peninsular and Latin American literatures. In order to move beyond the traditional mapping of influences, dominance, and master narratives, the department has developed a series of meetings, organized by the "Transatlantic Project at Brown University," which are focused on the interplay between models and answers, patterns and displacements, and world-views and views of the local. In a period of increased globalization this area of research assumes that the global is made up of many regionalities and their intensive and creative interplay. The department seeks to maintain a balanced strength between language and literature and between Peninsular and Latin American facets of a unified field.
The faculty members represent a broad range of approaches to literature and culture, maintaining a productive balance, which ensures that students are exposed to various methodological and theoretical positions, from philology to literary theory and cultural studies. Faculty are actively involved in many research projects, according to their fields of specialty, and the language specialists regularly teach an interdisciplinary course on language theory and methods of foreign language pedagogy.
Students are very involved in weekly tertulias that take place at the Machado House, a dormitory that has a section where only Spanish can be spoken. They also organize cultural events such as the Día de los muertos ("Day of all Souls") celebration, and a Hispanic movie series. The department has ongoing exchanges with the universities of Santiago de Compostela and Salamanca in Spain, as well as the Colegio de México, in Mexico City. Every year advanced graduate students are sent to those universities to enhance their teaching and research, and graduate students from those institutions are welcome to teach in Brown’s language program.
Concentrators in Hispanic Studies are overwhelmingly double concentrators: they bring to their classes a dual perspective that engages the study of Hispanic cultures with other fields such as history, government, sociology, economics, medicine, and law. The richness and depth of these interests make for lively and intellectually rewarding classroom discussions.