Spanish and French Studies

Overview

The study of a culture through its language offers insights into unfamiliar worlds which cannot be realized in any other way; such study is one of the distinguishing features of a liberal arts education. Moreover, competence in a language other than English can provide a decided advantage for any post-graduate education or career objective.

The Spanish and French Studies program at Occidental is designed to provide the student with an analytical grasp of the traditions and complexities of the Spanish and/or French-speaking world. The rich cultural and literary expressions of Spain and Latin America provide the context for a classroom environment that builds strong conversational skills and immerses the student in intensive language use. Similarly, the department introduces students to the rich intellectual, literary, cultural, and political traditions of the Francophone world through the study of works from Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, and Europe. Classroom instruction and discussions take place entirely in Spanish or French, and Occidental College's strategic position in Southern California also provides students with numerous opportunities to use the Spanish language interactively. The department also offers courses in Modern Standard Arabic, as well as courses in Arabic conversation and Arabic literature and culture in translation.

The department strongly encourages all students, whether considering a major in the department or not, to investigate Occidental's opportunities for study abroad (see Off-Campus Study). In recent years, students from a wide variety of departments, including the sciences, have taken advantage of these programs, greatly enhancing their education and future opportunities. These programs exemplify Occidental's ideal of a liberal education that increases sensitivity to and appreciation of other cultures. Finally, the department also invites students to engage in community-based learning through the different activities available in the intermediate and advanced Spanish language classes.

Linguistics at Occidental College is housed in the Department of Spanish and French Studies.

Linguistics is the scientific study of language as a type of human activity: how languages are constructed and why, where they came from, and how they got that way. It also delineates the breadth and limitations of language's usability. Thus linguistics straddles the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. As an applied field, it is highly useful to anyone learning another language, to those intending to teach English or any other language, to people studying other cultures (since culture is encoded and transmitted largely via language structures), and to those studying human cognition or child development (since language structure plays a central role in both).

French Studies

French Studies majors are required to take seven courses, including Fren 202 and six 4-unit courses numbered above 202. Additionally, students must complete a 2-unit senior comprehensive independent study. A maximum of three courses may be taken outside the department, including those taken on study abroad programs. Only one course may be taken in English, with approval from the department. Students are responsible for documenting the work they do abroad, especially regarding independent research, internships, or courses taken directly at a university. A portfolio of their work should be submitted upon their return in order to receive credit towards the French major or minor. French majors must enroll in at least 4 units in the department during their senior year.

When planning their 300-level coursework for the major, we strongly encourage students to take a course on translation, a course with a pre-1800 focus, and a course on Francophonie.

Major Requirements

FREN 202Introduction to Literary Analysis/Advanced Composition and Grammar

4 units

Six additional courses above FREN 202

SECOND-STAGE WRITING REQUIREMENT

Students majoring in French may satisfy the second-stage of Occidental's college-wide writing requirement by submission of either a paper written during their junior year or a translation portfolio.

COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT

The comprehensive requirements in French consist of a 2-unit senior comprehensive independent study.

HONORS

Majors in the department with an overall GPA of 3.25 may qualify for Honors at graduation through a distinguished comprehensive thesis or examination. See the Honors Program and consult the major advisor and chair for details by the end of the fall semester, junior year.

Spanish Studies

Major Requirements

Spanish majors are required to take eight courses (32 units), including SPAN 202 or SPAN 211, six courses numbered above SPAN 202/SPAN 211, and SPAN 490. Of the group of six courses, a minimum of two must be in literature and one in linguistics. At least one of the six courses must be numbered SPAN 340 or above. 

A maximum of three courses may be taken outside the department, including those taken on study abroad programs. Only one course may be taken in English, with approval of the department. All courses taken outside the department for the Spanish major must be approved in advance by the students' departmental adviser. Students are responsible for documenting the work they do abroad, especially regarding independent research, internships, or courses taken directly at a university. A portfolio of their work should be submitted upon their return in order to receive credit towards the Spanish major or minor. 

For both the Spanish major and minor, the terms literature and culture refer to the literatures and cultures of Spain, Spanish America, and the Latino United States. The term linguistics includes courses taught both in English and Spanish.

Concentration Options

Students majoring in Spanish Studies have the option to choose a concentration in Literature, Culture, or Linguistics. In addition to the requirements above, students pursuing a concentration must also satisfy the following requirements:

  • Literature. Three courses in literature, one course in linguistics, and two additional courses in literature, linguistics, or culture
  • Culture. Three courses in culture, two courses in literature, and one course in linguistics
  • Linguistics. Three courses in linguistics, two courses in literature, and one additional course in literature, linguistics, or culture

Literature Courses


SPAN 301Introduction to Pre-Columbian and Colonial Latin American Literature and Civilization

4 units

SPAN 302Introduction to Medieval and Golden Age Spanish Literature and Culture

4 units

SPAN 304Introduction to Modern Spanish Literature and Civilization

4 units

SPAN 309Latin American Writers in Spain

4 units

SPAN 314Latin American Women's Voices in Fiction and Film

4 units

SPAN 316Violence in Latin American Fiction and Film

4 units

SPAN 320Golden Age Spanish Literature and Film

4 units

SPAN 351Cervantes and the Renaissance

4 units

SPAN 353Images of Sacred and Profane Love in Medieval and Golden Age Spain

4 units

SPAN 362Modern Spanish Theater and Cinema

4 units

SPAN 363Hispanic Autobiography

4 units

SPAN 370The Jungle in Modern Latin American Literature

4 units

SPAN 377Magical Realism in Latin America

4 units

SPAN 378Buenos Aires in Latin American Fiction and Film

4 units

SPAN 382Contemporary Mexican Novel

4 units

SPAN 383Survey of Chicano Literature

4 units

Culture Courses


SPAN 312Spanish Film and Culture

4 units

SPAN 313Latin American Film and Culture

4 units

SPAN 314Latin American Women's Voices in Fiction and Film

4 units

SPAN 316Violence in Latin American Fiction and Film

4 units

SPAN 320Golden Age Spanish Literature and Film

4 units

SPAN 342Spanish in the United States

4 units

SPAN 362Modern Spanish Theater and Cinema

4 units

Linguistics Courses


LING 301Introduction to Linguistics

4 units

LING 350/PSYC 351Psycholinguistics

4 units

LING 355Sociolinguistics

4 units

SPAN 340Spanish Phonology

4 units

SPAN 341History of the Spanish Language

4 units

SPAN 342Spanish in the United States

4 units

SPAN 343Spanish Sociolinguistics

4 units

SECOND-STAGE WRITING REQUIREMENT

Students majoring in Spanish will satisfy the second-stage component of Occidental College's writing requirement by receiving a grade of B- or higher in a Spanish course numbered 340 or above. See the department chair for additional information.

COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT

The comprehensive requirement consists of the senior seminar and an oral presentation on a topic related to the senior research paper.

HONORS

Majors in the department with GPA of at least 3.50 in major courses and an overall GPA of 3.25 may qualify for Honors at graduation through a distinguished comprehensive thesis. See the Honors Program and consult the major advisor and chair for details by the end of the fall semester, junior year.

Minor Requirements

French Studies:

A minor in French consists of 5 courses (20 Units), including FREN 201 plus 4 courses (16 units) above FREN 201, and including one course (4 units) at the 350 level or above. A maximum of two courses can be taken outside the department, including courses abroad.

Linguistics:

Students pursuing a minor in Linguistics are required to take LING 301. Subsequently, they must take a second course in linguistics. This course may be a second course listed under linguistics in the catalog, a Spanish linguistics course, or a linguistics course via transfer or study abroad (with approval of the linguistics faculty). All students must take one semester of a foreign language from one of the following categories: 1) Greek or Latin, 2) Spanish or French, 3) German or Russian, 4) Arabic, Chinese, or Japanese. This course must be in addition to and in a different category from the language used to fulfill the Core language requirement. Students must also choose two additional courses with a language focus in consultation with the linguistics faculty. These courses may include one more foreign language course, a course in Spanish linguistics, COGS 330, PHIL 344, EDUC 205, or a linguistics course via transfer or study abroad (with approval of the linguistics faculty).

Spanish Studies:

Spanish minors are required to take 5 courses, at the 202/211 level or higher. Courses numbered 300 and above are courses in literature, linguistics, and culture. At least one course must be numbered 340 or above. A maximum of 2 courses may be taken outside the department, including those taken on study abroad programs. Only 1 course may be taken in English. All courses taken outside the department for the Spanish minor must be approved in advance by the department.

Transfer Credit Policies

The Spanish and French Studies Department does not accept online courses for transfer credit.

Students who earn a score of 4 on the AP French Language examination will earn four units of credit and be placed into FREN 201 while those who earn a score of 5 will earn four units of credit and be placed in to FREN 202. Students who earn a score of 4 on the AP Spanish Language examination will earn four units of credit and be placed into SPAN 201 while those who earn a score of 5 will earn four units of credit and be placed into SPAN 202. The department does not place students based on IB or A-level examinations.

Students may apply up to three courses (12 units of credit) in transfer toward the major or two courses (eight units) in transfer toward the minor.

Students should reference the Transfer Credit section for more details.

Courses

Arabic Courses

French Courses

Linguistic Courses

Spanish Courses


Faculty

Regular Faculty

Hanan Elsayed, chair

Associate Professor 

B.A., Montclair State University; M.A., Ph.D., Rutgers University; Graduate Certificate in African Studies, Rutgers University

Mariska Bolyanatz

Assistant Professor

B.A., Gordon College, Massachusetts; M.A., University of Illinois, Chicago; Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles

Robert Ellis

Norman Bridge Distinguished Professor of Spanish 

B.A., Pomona College; M.A., Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles

Salvador Fernández

Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs

Professor

B.A., University of California, Riverside; M.A., Indiana University; Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles

Susan Grayson

Professor

A.B., M.A., Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles; Ph.D., Wright Institute Los Angeles Attestation d’études, Université de Bordeaux

Felisa Guillén

Professor

B.A., M.A., University of Madrid; Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara 

Arthur Saint-Aubin

Professor

B.A., Swarthmore College; M.A., Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University

Michael Shelton

Associate Professor, Cognitive Science, Spanish and French Studies 

B.S., St. Cloud State University; M.A., Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University

On Special Appointment

Lauren Brown

Non-Tenure Track Associate Professor

B.A., Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles

Maria Castro

Non-Tenure Track Associate Professor

B.A., Filosofía y Letras, Universidad Complutense de Madrid; M.A., George Washington University; M.A.,Ph.D., University of Washington

Zohaa A. El Gamal

Non-Tenure Track Instructor

Alicia Gonzalez

Non-Tenure Track Instructor

A.B., Stanford University; M.A., University of California, Los Angeles

Gloria Orozco

Non-Tenure Track Assistant Professor

B.A., M.A., Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles

Karina Rincon

Non-Tenure Track Instructor

A.B., Occidental College; M.A., University of California, Los Angeles