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Latin American & Latino/a Studies

Night sky of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The interdisciplinary program of Latin American & Latino/a Studies (LALS) has as its mission the fostering of a rich and critical understanding of Latin America, including Brazil and the Hispanic Caribbean, in its broadest sense. To this end, 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.

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.

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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.

Required Core

  • 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: Ginetta Candelario (2017–18)

Please consult the director of honors for specific requirements and application procedures. More information about honors is available of 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


For additional information, please refer to the Smith College Course Catalog.

LAS 150 Introduction to Latin American Studies 
LAS 150 is a multidisciplinary, thematically organized introduction to the cultures and societies of Latin America and serves as a primary gateway to the Latin American Studies major. This course surveys a variety of topics in culture, geography, politics, history, literature, language, and the arts through readings, films, discussions and guest lectures. The course is required for all majors in Latin American Studies. {A} {H} {S} Credits: 4 
Michelle Joffroy 
Offered Fall 2018
Normally offered each academic year 

LAS 201 Colloquium in Latin American and Latino/a Studies 
Topics course. 
Latin American, Latinx, Chicanx, and Caribbean Comics and Graphic Novels 
This course will consider South and Central Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx and Chicanx comics as well as graphic novels and comics from the US and Canada (19th century to present).  Argentinian, Brazilian, Mexican, and Peruvian comic and graphic novel traditions are widely influential and noted for aesthetic innovations, political influence, and for resistance to oppressionn and dictatorship.  The course will trace the history of Latinx and Chicanx comics from underground master Spain Rodriguez to contemporary autobio comics crreators Kelly Fernandez and Crystal Rodriguez.  The course will include artist visits {A} {L} {H} Credits: 4
N.C. Christopher Couch. Credits: 4 
Offered Spring 2019
Normally offered each academic year 

Mapping Identity and Development: The Cultural Geography of Latin America
This course serves as an introduction to the development of regions, places, and the people of Latin America from the pre-Hispanic era to the present. This course will cover its cultural history, environment and physical geography, land use, agriculture, urbanization, social and economic processes, and the Latin American diaspora. (E) {H} {S}
Jamie Worms Credits: 4 
Offered Spring 2019
Normally offered each academic year 

Landscapes of Work, Wealth and Power: The Economic Geography of Latin America 
This coursewill critically examine the economic history of Latin America to understand how its economies and societies have evolved from colonial legacies.  This course will discuss social structures, distributions of power and welaath, the role and strengths of its elites, and the complex process of state-building to illustrate the ways in which Latin American compares with the rest of the world, {H} {S}
Jamie Worme Credits: 4 
Offered Fall 2018
Normally offered each academic year 

LAS 244 Feminisms and Women’s Movements: Latin American Women’s and Latinas’ Pursuit of Social Justice Offered Spring 2019

LAS 250 Knowing Latin America 
In this inquiry-driven course, students explore a topic from different disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives central to Latin American Studies. Students will be exposed to writing in the humanities, social and natural sciences and gain a solid foundation for evaluating, contextualizing and applying current methodological trends within Latin American Studies. Case studies illustrate the diversity of thought, interdisciplinary approaches, and innovative directions in the field. Discussions address the roles and responsibilities of researchers, analysts and practitioners across a range of professions. Required for the major in Latin American Studies. Topics rotate. {A} {H} {S} Credits: 4 
Members of the department 
Normally offered each academic year 

LAS 260 (L) Colonial Latin America, 1492–1821 
Same as HST 260. The development of Latin American society during the period of Spanish and Portuguese rule. Social and cultural change in Native American societies as a result of colonialism. The contributions of Africans, Europeans and Native Americans to the new multi-ethnic societies that emerged during the three centuries of colonization and resistance. The study of sexuality, gender ideologies and the experiences of women are integral to the course and essential for understanding political power and cultural change in colonial Latin America. {H} Credits: 4 
Members of the department 
Expected to be offered in the next 3 years 

LAS 261 Latin America Since 1821 
Same as HST 261.This course provides an overview of Latin American history, from the nineteenth to twenty-first century. We will focus on key themes such as liberalism, nationalism, imperialism, social movements, state violence, and neoliberalism, and highlight the experiences of ordinary people, from enslaved persons to indigenous peasants and workers. Unit 1 focuses on the independence wars and abolition, nation-building, and the boom of export economies. Unit 2 examines the mass mobilizations that challenged authoritarianism, from the Mexican Revolution to the revolutionary movements in the Cold War era. Unit 3 traces challenges to neoliberalism in the form of center-left governments and grassroots movements. Basis for the LALS major. {H} Credits: 4 
Members of the department 
Expected to be offered in the next 3 years 

LAS 301 Seminar: Topics in Latin American and Latino/a Studies 
Topics course. 
Favelas in Brazil: The Commodification of Places of Protest 
A favela is a distinct, irregular, unplanned community in Brazil. Characterized by self-help construction methods and inadequate access to public services, these communities grew out of protest and have etched themselves into the permanent landscape and fabric of Brazil. Intrinsically, the culture of slavery, which was successfully maintained through terror and spectacular punishment, continues to inform the favelas today as many actors including local leaders, politicians, the Church, drug traffickers, militias, NGOs, residents, and the police have tried to govern these sprawling communities with varying degrees of success. Through articles, books, films and guest lecturers, this course will introduce the rich history of favelas and describe how the distinct spectacle of violence, commodification and speculation is deeply embedded in the (re)production of favelas in Brazil. {H}  Credits: 4
Jamie Worms
Offered Fall 2018
Expected to be offered in the next 3 years
 {H} Credits: 4 
Members of the department 

LAS 310 Latin American Studies: Issues, Methods and Debates 
This course studies how people trained in the field of Latin American and Latin@ Studies “do their work,” asking: what constitutes a compelling research topic and what methodologies are required to complete such research. Focus rests on the last decade. We explore a wide range of authors, from those interested in the arts to those who study immigration or climate change. This class also asks each student to develop and present an independent research project, teaching others in class about their topic. Throughout we consider and debate the implications of working in this field—both inside and outside academic settings. Required for the major and minor. To be offered in 2019–20. {A} {L} {S} Credits: 4
Members of the department
Expected to be offered in the next 3 years 

LAS 400 Special Studies 
Credits: 1-4 
Members of the department 
Normally offered each academic year 

LAS 404 Special Studies 
Credits: 4 
Members of the department 
Normally offered each academic year

For additional information, please refer to the Smith College Course Catalog.

AFR 366 Seminar: Contemporary Topics in Africana Studies 
Afro-Brazilian Culture
Offered Spring 2019

ANT 20 Collecting the Past: Art and Artifacts of the Ancient Americas
Normally offered in alternate years

ANT 234 Culture, Power and Politics
Offered Spring 2019 

ANT 237 Native South Americans 
Normally offered each academic year 

ANT 269 Indigenous Cultures and the State in Mesoamerica 
Normally offered in alternate years 

ARH 201 Brazilian Art Inside and Out
Offered Fall 2018

ARH 218 Modern Architectures in North America 
Expected to be offered in the next 3 years 

ARH 280 Art Historical Studies 
Expected to be offered in the next 3 years 

DAN 144 Tango I 
Offered Fall 2018

DAN 244 Tango II 
Normally offered each spring 

DAN 377 Advanced Studies in History and Aesthetics 
Normally offered each academic year 

FYS 127 Cuba and the U.S. Embargo 
Expected to be offered in the next 3 years 

FYS 129 Tierra y Vida: Land and the Ecological Imagination in U.S. Latino/a Literature 
Expected to be offered in the next 3 years 

GOV 220 Introduction to Comparative Politics
Offered Spring 2019

GOV 226 Latin American Political Systems 
Normally offered each fall 

GOV 237 Colloquium: Politics of the U.S./Mexico Border 
Normally offered each spring 

GOV 307 Seminar in American Government 
Normally offered in alternate years 

GOV 322 Seminar in Comparative Government 
Normally offered in alternate years 

HST 263 Aspects of Latin American History: Women and Gender in Latin America
Offered Fall 2018

POR 201 Brazilian Art Inside and Out (same as ARH 201)
Offered Fall 2018

POR 232 Popular Music, Nationhood and Globalization in the Portuguese-Speaking World
Offered Fall 2018

SOC 213 Race and National Identity in the United States 
Normally offered each spring 

SOC 214 Sociology of Hispanic Caribbean Communities in the United States 
Offered Fall 2018

SPN 230 Latin American and Peninsular Culture and Society 
Doméstica Offered Spring 2019

SPN 240 From Page to Stage: Argentina 2000-18 Offered Spring 2019

SPN 245 Latin American and Peninsular Studies 
Buen Provecho: Food and the Spanish-Speaking World< Offered Fall 2018 

SPN 246 Latin American Literature and Culture 
Reinterpreting Magical Realism Offered Fall 2018
Zapatismo Now: Cultural Resistance on the “Other” Border Offered Spring 2019 

SPN 260 Latin American Cultural History 
Decolonizing Latin American Literature
Offered Fall 2018
Becoming Latin America: Modernization and Resistance
Offered Spring 2019

SPN 372 Seminar: Topics in Latin American and Iberian Studies 
Expected to be offered in the next 3 years 

SPN 373 Seminar: Cultural Movements in Spanish America 
Latin American Films Bridging the Public and the Private
Offered Fall 2018


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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

Adviser: Marguerite Harrison

See your academic adviser for more opportunities.

Fifty or more Latin American courses are available through the Five College Consortium. More information about studying at the Five Colleges is available on the registrar's website.

Masters in Latin American Studies at Georgetown University

Students interested in pursuing graduate studies in LAS have the option of completing an M.A. 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.





Department of Latin American & Latino/a Studies

Wright Hall 226
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: 413-585-3510

Administrative Assistant:
Lea Ahlen