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Brown in Cuba

In the Fall of 2008, Brown University launched a study abroad program in Havana, Cuba, in collaboration with Casa de las Américas.  Now in its second year, this initiative gives a small group of undergraduate students an unprecedented opportunity to experience the complexities of Cuban history, culture, and politics.  Led by Cogut Postdoctoral Fellow Adrián López-Denis, this semester-long program consist of four intense seminars taught in Spanish by Cuban professors. As a complement to the basic courses, all students participate in a variety of field trips and extracurricular activities.

At the core of the program is the “virtual classroom” project, a video link-up between the Brown-in-Cuba program and students enrolled in the seminar “Literature and the Arts in Today’s Cuba” taught here at the Cogut Center by Faculty Fellow Esther Whitfield.  Four times this Fall, the two classrooms will come together to hear distinguished scholars talk about the role of culture in Cuba and the relationship between the arts, the government and the academy more broadly.  During each meeting, one guest will be based in Havana and the other in Providence.  This semester’s speakers include architect and critic Mario Coyula Cowley, of the University of Havana, talking with Gabriel Feld, Professor of Architecture at RISD; and Cuban writer Víctor Fowler Calzada with Jacqueline Loss, Associate Professor of Spanish at the University of Connecticut.

The “virtual classroom” will be a dynamic forum for engaging with literary and artistic production in Cuba.  At the end of the semester, students in Havana and Providence will team up to create on-line dossiers contextualizing the work of the authors and artists who have spoken in our classrooms.  These dossiers will include excerpts from their work as well as from the critical literature devoted to it. 

The project is supported by the Cogut Center for the Humanities and by grants from the Instructional Technology Group, the Department of Comparative Literature, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the Dean of the College.