The interdisciplinary program of Latin American & Latino/a Studies (LALS) fosters a rich and critical understanding of Latin America, including Brazil and the Hispanic Caribbean, in its broadest sense. The program focuses on the cultural production, history and political, social and economic structures created by the inhabitants of the area extending from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego, from California to Cuba, and in dialogue with the rest of the world. Students explore the diversity that existed in Latin America before the arrival of Europeans, the societies that subsequently developed among Native Americans, Europeans, Asians and Africans, and contemporary issues and forms of expression both of Latin Americans and of Latinos in the United States.
Congratulations to Michelle Joffroy, Teaching Award Winner
Michelle Joffroy, Assoc. Professor in Spanish, has just been named a winner of the Sherrerd Teaching Award for 2021. See why here.
Seniors! We invite your submissions for Annual Prize in LALS
Awarded to a senior major or minor for an outstanding paper or piece of creative work (e.g., poem, visual art, video) from any Latin American or Latino/a Studies class.
Deadline for submission: May 5, 2021. Read more details.
The LALS Program has four primary goals for its students:
- To understand Latin America and Latinos in the United States through the lenses of literature, the arts and the social sciences.
- To investigate the specific historical conditions that have shaped—and continue to shape—these societies.
- To develop communication skills in Spanish and/or Portuguese.
- To further knowledge of the unique ways in which visual culture, literature, artistic production, history, politics and economics intertwine for present-day people who consider themselves Latin Americans.
These goals focus our curriculum to prepare majors to successfully attain essential capacities, with particular strengths in developing historical and comparative perspectives through the study of the development of societies, cultures and philosophies; the study of languages; and the understanding of multi- and interdisciplinary approaches. Likewise, the program curriculum fosters the development of informed global citizens with its fundamental commitment to engaging with communities beyond Smith, domestically and internationally, and its attention to the regional and global challenges of ethnic and racial diversity, as well as gender, environmental and social justice.
The curriculum is attentive to the development of critical and analytical thinking skills and the cultivation of the skills necessary to convey information and understanding. Students develop close reading, clear speaking and writing skills, most explicitly but not exclusively in literature and history courses. Course offerings in the humanities create opportunities for creative expression, in written as well as visual media and performance, and those in the social sciences develop the necessary skills to evaluate and present evidence accurately, verbally and in writing. Community-based research courses and public scholarship -oriented research projects provide opportunities for students to work collaboratively and to reflect critically on the collaborative process.
The major (10 courses, 40 credits) builds upon core interdisciplinary work in Latin American Studies and centers a commitment to the study of Spanish and/or Portuguese. Building on the strength of the core, students will follow a program of studies related to Spanish America and/or Brazil from the disciplines of anthropology, art, dance, economics government, history literature, sociology and theater, through courses offered in affiliated departments and programs. Given the importance of Latino/a studies within the field of Latin American Studies, majors are required to take at least one course in this field. LALS emphasizes student-adviser mentoring partnerships to chart an appropriate curricular path through the major based on students' academic and co-curricular interests.
- LAS 150
- Other core requirements: LAS 250 and LAS 310: Capstone
All students must also complete seven electives:
two humanities courses (e.g., literary studies, historical studies, cultural studies) in Spanish or Portuguese; normally these will be at the 200-level [8 credits]
- Two courses in the social sciences (e.g., sociology, anthropology, government, economics); normally these will be at the 200-level [8 credits]
- One historically-focused class on Latin America, normally at the 200 level [4 credits]
- One course that focuses on the arts in/of Latin America (art history, film studies, theater, dance); normally this will be at the 200-level [4 credits]
- One course on Latin America at the 300-level; this class may be in any discipline [4 credits]
Of these seven courses, at least one must focus on the period before Independence (e.g., pre-1825) and one must focus on Latino/a studies.
To build coherence across this range of classes, we expect students to work with their major advisers, choosing their seven courses to develop an intellectual focus. Such foci may be:
- Thematic (e.g., race/diaspora, indigeneity, gender/sexuality, Latinidades, migration/immigration)
- Geographic (e.g., national, transborder/border studies, regional)
- Temporal (e.g., pre-1825, 19th/20th century, contemporary)
The minor in Latino/a studies consists of six courses (24 credits) emphasizing key intellectual and methodological capacities: exposure to the shared, transnational histories of Latin and Latino/a America; critical engagement with Spanish as a language of thought and cultural production; a shared, intellectual and interdisciplinary experience with a community of majors and minors in the program.
- One course in the history of Latin America and/or the Caribbean
- One humanities or cultural communication course in Spanish (normally at the 200-level)
- LAS 310: Capstone
All students must also complete three Latino/a-focused courses that fulfill these distribution requirements:
• At least one course in the social sciences, normally at the 200-level (ANT, ECO, GOV, SOC, HST)
• At least one course in the humanities/arts, normally at the 200-level (ARH, CLT, DAN, ENG, SPN, THE)
Students may count one course in Latino/a studies from another Five College institution toward the minor.
Honors Director: Dana Leibsohn (2020–21)
Please consult the director of honors for specific requirements and application procedures. More information about honors is available on the class deans website.
Admission by permission of the Latin American and Latino/a Studies Committee.
- The same as those for the major.
- Thesis proposal, preferably prepared during the second semester of the student's junior year and submitted for consideration no later than the end of the first week of classes the following September.
- A thesis and an oral examination on the thesis.
LAS 430d Thesis
Credits: 8 (yearlong course); offered each year
LAS 431 Thesis
Credits: 8; offered each fall
Students can choose from approximately 30 courses on Latin America offered every year by the departments of art, comparative literature, dance, government, history, sociology and Spanish and Portuguese, as well as from the interdisciplinary courses offered in the Latin American studies program. Fifty or more courses on Latin America are available through the Five College Consortium.
For additional information, please refer to the Smith College Course Search.
LAS 201 Colloquium in Latin American and Latino/a Studies
- Voicing Gender in Latinx Popular Music
- Environmental Legacies and Ecological Futures in Latin America
LAS 301 Seminar: Deep History of Water
LAS 310 Seminar: Latin American Studies: Issues, Methods and Debates
LAS 400 Special Studies
For additional information, please refer to the Smith College Course Search.
AFR 155 Introduction to Black Women's Studies
AFR 289 Race, Feminism and Resistance
GOV 237 Colloquium: Politics of the U.S./Mexico Border
GOV 239 Social Justice Movements in Latin America
HST 275 An Introduction to Public History
POR 381 Seminar in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies: Brasil Profundo
SPN 230 Latin American and Peninsular Culture and Society
- A Transatlantic Search for Identity
- Climate Voices
SPN 245 Latin American and Peninsular Studies
SPN 260 Latin American Cultural History: Becoming Latin America
SPN 372 Seminar: Topics in Latin American and Iberian Studies: Stages of Conflict
Studying Latin America at Smith
Opportunities & Resources
Study Abroad Opportunities
The Smith College Office for International Study has an extensive list of programs available for students wishing to go abroad. This list changes frequently, so please contact them directly for details.
Study Abroad in Brazil
See your academic adviser for more opportunities.
Master’s in Latin American Studies at Georgetown University
Students interested in pursuing graduate studies in LAS have the option of completing a Master of Arts in Latin American studies at Georgetown University in only one extra year and a summer. Those interested must consult with an LAS adviser during their sophomore year or early in their junior year.
Students primarily interested in Latin American literature may wish to consult the major programs available in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.
Five College Certificate
The Five College Certificate in Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies gives you the opportunity to show an area of specialization in Latin American studies in conjunction with or in addition to your major.