Spanish Language and Literature

The Spanish program emphasizes a critical understanding of the Spanish-speaking world by focusing on language skills, analytical tools, and the study of a variety of kinds of cultural expressions. These studies are one effective way of gaining a deeper understanding of the world, which is an important element of a liberal arts education. The program offers courses in language, literature, film and other cultural expressions from the Spanish-speaking world. There are study abroad opportunities in Madrid and Cáceres, Spain; Quito, Ecuador; Oaxaca, Mexico; San José, Costa Rica; and Santiago and Valparaíso, Chile.

Off-campus experiences are complemented by on-campus study and experiences that maintain and improve a student's language skills. Opportunities to view Spanish language films, read Spanish publications, and converse with native speakers are an integral part of the Spanish program.

Faculty members meet students inside and outside the classroom, participate in campus activities, and counsel students regarding graduate and professional career choices in high school and college teaching, science, publishing, international trade, international banking, and other fields.


Language placement exams are required for students who have taken Spanish courses or who are native speakers of Spanish, even if they are not sure they will continue studying Spanish at Kalamazoo College. Students with three or more years of high school Spanish will not be placed into SPAN 101. Placement exams for first-year and incoming transfer students completed by June 15th will be scored before First-Year Registration in July. All placement exams for first-year students taken between June 15th and August 15th will be scored prior to Orientation week. All students (including first-year students) who do not complete a language placement exam prior to the deadlines indicated above will not be able to register for Spanish until they have taken a language placement exam. Students needing to take the language placement exam have until the end of 4th week of the current quarter to complete the placement exam if they wish to take a language class the following quarter. Exams taken by the deadline will be scored in 5th week so that students will know their placement in time for registration for the next quarter. 

Those students who wish to receive credit for language courses they have taken at another college or university before enrolling at Kalamazoo College must take the Spanish language placement test and test into a higher-level course than the one for which they are seeking credit. Any appeal of the placement test results should be directed to a Spanish faculty member.

Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) Credit for Spanish Major and Minor

Students with Advanced Placement (AP) or IB scores must still take the placement test in Spanish. An Advanced Placement (AP) score of 4 or 5 in Spanish language will count as one credit toward the Spanish major or minor, provided that the student take Spanish 203 or beyond as her/his first Spanish course at the college.

An advanced placement (AP) score of 5 in Spanish literature shall count as one credit toward the Spanish major or minor provided that the student take Spanish 203 or beyond as her/his first Spanish course at the college.

IB scores of 5-6-7 on the Higher Level may count toward a major, minor, or concentration at the discretion of the department faculty.

Requirements for the Major in Spanish

Number of Units
Eight units are required, not including SPAN 101, 102, or 201 but which may include the SIP. No more than two of these units can be earned during study abroad. No more than three units total may be earned off campus through any combination of study abroad, AP, IB, transfer credits or inter-institutional enrollment. Although a student may take any number of courses at the 200 (intermediate) level, no more than two of these courses may count toward the major.

Required Courses
SPAN 301 Introduction to Hispanic Literature (prerequisite to all 400 level courses)
SPAN 491 or 492, the Senior Seminars (taken in the winter quarter of the senior year)
At least two additional units in 400-level courses taken on campus.

Comprehensive Exam
The successful completion of Comprehensive Examinations (given during the Senior year) is a requirement for the Spanish major.

Units from Study Abroad
Only two units, to be used toward the major in Spanish, may be earned in a long term (6 month) or an extended term (9 month) program. One unit only from a short term (3 month) program may be used.

  1. The student who goes abroad AFTER having taken SPAN 301 may bring back one unit in hispanophone literature or culture, and another one in language or topics pertaining to the country/region; students on short-term programs may only bring back one unit. That student must still take the Senior Seminar and enough 400-level courses on campus to complete the eight-unit requirement.
  2. The student who goes abroad BEFORE having taken SPAN 301 may bring back one unit in hispanophone literature or culture and another one in language or topics pertaining to the country and region; students on short term programs may only bring back one unit. Students must still take SPAN 301, the Senior Seminar, and enough 400-level courses to complete the eight-unit requirement.

Spanish majors are expected to participate in a study abroad program and acquire a high proficiency of language skill. Spanish majors are encouraged to develop appropriate cognate programs in areas such as History, Political Science, Economics, Music, Philosophy, Anthropology, Sociology, International and Area Studies, or International Economics and Business.

Requirements for the Minor in Spanish

Number of Units
Six units are required.

Required Courses
SPAN 301 Introduction to Hispanic Literature

Five courses chosen from the following (at least three must be at the 400-level)
SPAN 202, 203, 205, 295B, 295H, any of our 400-level courses

Units from Study Abroad

  1. A student may count one unit from abroad toward the minor in Spanish. The unit, which must be taught in Spanish, may be in the literature of the hispanophone world, or in language, or a cultural/topical course pertaining to the hispanophone world.
  2. If a student has taken SPAN 301 (Introduction to Literature) before going abroad, the student brings back a unit in literature or culture (from abroad) towards the minor. A student who goes abroad before taking SPAN 301 needs to take SPAN 301 and enough 400-level courses on campus after study abroad in order to complete the minor requirements. Students who go on study abroad before taking SPAN 301 should contact Spanish faculty prior to their return to determine which on-campus Spanish course to take next in the sequence.

Spanish courses

SPAN101Beginning Spanish I Introduction to the Spanish Language and the Spanish-speaking world. Students begin developing competency in the four basic skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) through communicative activities and cultural exploration.Prerequisite: Placement test if student has any prior experience with Spanish.
SPAN102Beginning Spanish II Further development of the four skills through continued exploration of the Spanish-speaking world. Students will work to acquire the linguistic skills and cultural knowledge needed to navigate a variety of cultural settings. Prerequisite: SPAN-101 or Placement Test
SPAN201Intermediate Spanish The refining and expansion of communicative skills. Students develop critical thinking and cross-cultural competency by reading, discussing, and writing about authentic texts. Prerequisite: SPAN-102 or Placement Test
SPAN202Conversation and Composition Critical explorations of the Spanish-speaking world through focused reading, discussion, and related written assignments.Prerequisite: SPAN-201 or Placement Test
SPAN203Advanced Conversation and Composition An introduction to the critical analysis of texts from the Spanish-speaking world. Students begin to acquire a more sophisticated knowledge of the intricacies of the Spanish-speaking world while putting into practice more complex forms of written and oral expression.Prerequisite: SPAN-202 or Placement Test
SPAN205Culture of Health and Disease in the Hispanic Community This course enables students to connect with Spanish-speaking clients and healthcare providers by teaching appropriate vocabulary and presenting different cultural attitudes and practices relating to health and disease. A service-learning component is included in this course.Prerequisite: SPAN-201
SPAN206Business Spanish/Español Comercial Business Spanish is a course aimed at developing students' communicative skills and intercultural awareness when interacting with Spanish-speakers in a business setting. The course employs a multifaceted, communicative approach to second language acquisition that foments the development of all essential skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The course is driven by topics, language functions and situations pertinent to business settings.Prerequisite: Take SPAN-201 or place into SPAN-202 or above.
SPAN295BBusiness Spanish Business Spanish is a course aimed at developing students' conversation skills and intercultural competence when interacting with Spanish-speakers in a business setting. The course employs a multifaceted, communicative approach to second language acquisition that foments the development of essential skills in listening and speaking as its primary focus, and in reading and writing as a secondary focus. The course syllabus is driven by topics, language functions, and situations pertinent to business settings. Prerequisite: SPAN-201
SPAN295HSpanish for Heritage-Speakers The course is intended to encourage heritage-speakers of Spanish to foster their cultural and linguistic identity by providing them with a learning environment in which they are among their latino peers. Students will broaden their writing and speaking skills in order to express themselves fluently in both informal and formal Spanish. In addition, analysis of authentic texts aims to empower students by exposing them to the great diversity found within the Spanish-speaking world (Latin American, Spain, and the United States).
SPAN301Introduction to Hispanic Literatures An introduction to the periods, concepts, genres, and major figures of Spanish and Spanish-American literature. Using selected texts, discussion, and a variety of written assignments, this course will introduce students to literary analysis and bibliographic methods. Prerequisite: SPAN-203 or Placement Test
SPAN302Advanced Oral Communication This course is for advanced Spanish students who are committed to improving their competency in spoken Spanish, and who are interested in moving to a cohesive multi-paragraph discursive level. Students will learn the strategies required to communicate effectively in a variety of contexts. Students will be expected to develop proficiency in a number of discursive modes including conversations, discussions, presentations, debates, and reports, among others. Attention will be given to pronunciation, intonation, both verbal and non-verbal communication, as well as the skill of active listening. This course will not count for the Spanish major prior to the 2018 catalog requirements.Prerequisite: Take SPAN-203
SPAN401The Spanish-Speaking World on Film Research, discussion, and analysis of selected topics and issues in the Spanish-speaking world as reflected in film. Students develop the vocabulary and critical-thinking skills necessary to analyze and interpret the genre in both oral and written form. This course may be repeated for credit toward graduation if the content is different, but may count only once toward the major or minor.Prerequisite: SPAN-301
SPAN435Advanced Literary Studies Course focuses on major figures and movements in Spanish and/or Spanish-American literature. Topics will vary. May be repeated for credit if the course content is different.Prerequisite: SPAN-301
SPAN445Visual Practices in Latin America This course introduces students to critical texts, debates and questions proposed by the visual studies field in the context of Latin American cultural production. The course will examine and question various historical cases in which the visual medium has been used as a tool of power and dominance of populations, and as a way to express resistance and subversion. The course will include discussions on: Barroco de Indias, Mexican Muralism, Third Cinema, issues on photography and photojournalism, and soap opera aesthetics under dictatorships. In order to participate in an active and well-informed way, students are required to read, observe, reflect and write about visual material. Prerequisite: SPAN-301
SPAN455Limits of Genre This course explores the limits of the traditional boundaries (poetry, narrative, drama, essay) among literary classifications. Appropriate cultural, historical, and political context provides the backdrop to understand the crossing of boundaries among literary genres and the incorporation, in literary texts, of diverse art forms.Prerequisite: SPAN-301
SPAN465Imperial Spain Enlightenment to the Restoration A survey of Spanish literature from the 16th to the 19th centuries. This period covers Spain's imperial expansion, religious and political conflicts in Europe, and a problematic internal reorganization. This upheaval nevertheless sparked numerous literary innovations in narrative, theatre and poetry. Students will analyze literary texts, and appropriate secondary readings, in order to understand the key concepts and debates in the early modern period; some of which remain unresolved today.Prerequisite: SPAN-301
SPAN470Modern Spain A survey of Spanish literature from the 19th and 20th centuries. As Spain's overseas territories won their independence, the Spanish nation struggled to modernize and redefine itself. Lingering internal conflicts fueled a series of civil wars, and regional differences challenged national discourses on unity and identity. The literary sphere is where many of these clashes were articulated, and where many versions of modern and postmodern subjectivities were posited. Students will use literary and visual texts to examine important themes and movements in Spanish culture.Prerequisite: SPAN-301
SPAN475Conquest, Colonization, and Independence Study of the principal literary figures, works, and cultural and political contexts of XIV century to 1830.Prerequisite: SPAN-301
SPAN480Constructing Spanish-America Study of the principal literary figures, works, and cultural and political contexts from mid XIX-century to mid XX-century. Prerequisite: SPAN-301
SPAN485Literary Revolutions of Spanish-America Examination of the intellectual and literary patterns in Spanish-American literature from the mid-XXth century onward.Prerequisite: SPAN-301
SPAN491Peninsular Spanish Seminar Advanced study of outstanding authors, works, or genres that will vary to reflect the interest of students and the professor. Prerequisite: One unit above SPAN 301 and senior standing
SPAN492Spanish-American Seminar Advanced study of outstanding authors, works, or genres that are generally recognized as seminal to an understanding of Spanish America's social, philosophical, and aesthetic traditions.Prerequisite: One unit above SPAN 301 and senior standing
SPAN495The Post-Civil War Novel in Spain This course will focus on examples of literary experimentation after the shock and devastation of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The tremendous loss of life, property and infrastructure led intellectuals to question the Twentieth Century's narrative of progress and to ponder the human condition in the context of moral and material degradation. During the Francoist regime, intense censorship and propaganda forced novelists to experiment with alternative - and often cryptic - forms of expression. Students will read, decode and contextualize works from the literary tendencies of tremendismo, social realism and the so-called New Spanish NovelPrerequisite: SPAN-301
SPAN593Senior Individualized Project Each program or department sets its own requirements for Senior Individualized Projects done in that department, including the range of acceptable projects, the required background of students doing projects, the format of the SIP, and the expected scope and depth of projects. See the Kalamazoo Curriculum -> Curriculum Details and Policies section of the Academic Catalog for more details.Prerequisite: Permission of department and SIP supervisor required.
This Academic Catalog is current as of May 23, 2018

An official catalog is produced each summer for the following academic year and stored in the Archives section of this site. These versions are used for degree audits. Throughout the year, approved changes are incorporated immediately. Updates that have been submitted and approved by early summer will be included in the archival catalog for the next academic year in mid-summer.