About the Program
2012-2013 Director of Graduate Studies: Professor Michelle Clayton
The PhD Program in Hispanic Studies at Brown
The Department of Hispanic Studies at Brown University trains students to be both specialists and generalists, language teachers and literature scholars, researchers and active intellectuals. We think of our graduate students as colleagues and teachers of the future, and encourage them to develop their critical and creative interests from the moment they enter the program. Our students also directly enrich the program during the years they spend in training with us by organizing special events such as our biannual graduate student conference, reading groups, and other intellectual and creative activities.
The first three years in the program offer training across the various fields of Hispanic Studies. Our faculty represents a broad range of topics and approaches, and students are required to take courses in seven different areas during the first five semesters, culminating in written examinations based on both general and specialized lists according to the student’s particular focus. They must also show proficiency in two languages other than Spanish and English during the period of their coursework. During the fourth semester, students work closely with a faculty member on an article-length major paper, which often lays the groundwork for the dissertation. Written exams take place in the fifth or sixth semester, and the dissertation prospectus is presented by the end of the sixth semester. The fourth and fifth years are dedicated to researching and writing the dissertation, during which time our students can count on careful guidance from members of their committee. In addition to guidance on their research projects, students also receive hands-on preparation for entry into the job market, in which Brown has had notable success in recent years.
Students take a total of sixteen courses during their first three years at Brown: four per semester in the first year, three per semester in the second year (when students begin to act as teaching assistants and teaching fellows), and two in the first semester of the third year. (Students entering the program with an MA may be exempted from up to two courses, after consultation with the director of graduate studies.) Course offerings are plentiful, as each faculty member teaches one graduate seminar each year, from panoramic courses covering broad areas (e.g. Golden Age Spain, Colonial Latin America, modern Latin American poetry or narrative) to more focused seminars on writers, movements, or topics, often transatlantic in scope. A more complete listing can be found in our course catalog, which will be further enriched by the addition of new faculty to our program in the coming academic year. While being trained as scholars in Hispanic Studies, students are also encouraged to take classes in related disciplines, such as French and Francophone Studies (with whom we share the beautiful Rochambeau House), Comparative Literature, English, History, Literary Arts, Modern Culture and Media, and Portuguese and Brazilian Studies.
Of the sixteen courses, two required are a History of the Spanish Language and a Methodology course, which provides excellent training for our students in classroom teaching, complemented by our exceptionally strong language faculty. From the second year onward, our graduate students serve as teaching assistants and fellows, in courses ranging from beginning to Advanced Spanish, often with the possibility of designing their own survey course in literature in the final year of the program. The Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning at Brown offers further training in specific aspects of teaching, and many of our students choose to follow certificate programs to enrich their teaching acumen. Students also have the opportunity to serve as residential advisor for the Casa Machado, a Spanish-speaking undergraduate house located across the street from the department.
We encourage our students to take advantage of the many opportunities for disciplinary exchange and collaborations that characterize intellectual life at Brown, especially through the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Cogut Center for the Humanities, the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women, and the Program for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies. Excellent general scholarly resources are available through the David Rockefeller Library, while the John Carter Brown and Hay libraries contain extraordinary holdings in special materials which are of great interest to both the Brown community and the many visiting scholars who travel to Providence each year. Finally, our students also have the opportunity to take courses at neighboring institutions such as Harvard and Yale, or to study abroad at the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela or the Universidad de Salamanca.
Please feel welcome to approach any of the faculty –particular the director of graduate studies—with requests for particular guidance, or with ideas for intra- or inter-departmental events or initiatives you might like to organize. We are delighted to help you expand your cultural horizons and grow as active scholars, critics, and teachers during your time at Brown.