Spanish & Portuguese
As a single department with two majors—one in Spanish, the other in Portuguese and Brazilian studies—our commitment to intercultural studies reaches beyond traditional fields of national literatures, genres and languages to embrace cultural studies, environmental studies, gender and sexuality studies, the arts and more. Our courses encourage students to reconsider traditional notions of identity, nation, geography and culture from integrative and transcultural perspectives. Our curriculum reflects the fact that Spanish and Portuguese are increasingly recognized as domestic U.S. languages. We aim to integrate the heterogeneous languages and cultures we research and teach, from their inceptions on the Iberian Peninsula and in the Americas, to current linguistic and cultural manifestations in Europe, Africa and the Americas (including the United States), the Caribbean, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.
Prize Winners in Spanish & Portuguese
Congratulations to the 2020-21 prize winners in Spanish and Portuguese. The Gabriela Mistral Student Prize for the best senior essay or project in Spanish went to April Cayuga Hopcraft. The Clarice Lispector Student Prize for the best senior essay or project in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies went to Thao Thi Kahn.
Spanish Placement Exam
All students who have had previous training in the language or have lived in a Spanish-speaking country and wish to continue the study of Spanish are required to take the online placement exam. Students who have taken the Spanish AP exam should take the placement exam as well, regardless of their AP score. Learn more about the placement exam on the registrar’s website.
Michelle Joffroy, associate professor of Spanish, along with collaborators Jennifer Guglielmo, Diana Sierra Becerra and the National Domestic Workers Alliance, was granted $1.1 million from the Steinem Initiative to support the creation of a multilingual, smartphone-accessible digital timeline on the history and cultures of domestic worker organizing.
Senior Lecturer Emerita Patricia González, with Ivor Miller, edited a critical edition of Lydia Cabrera’s The Sacred Language of the Abakuá, nominated for an Elliott P. Skinner Book Award from the Association for Africanist Anthropology.
Spanish Major Learning Goals:
Upon graduation our students are able to think critically and to speak, read and write with accuracy at an advanced level in Spanish, and at a low-intermediate level or higher in Portuguese. They have the ability to negotiate diverse academic, professional and social situations in Spanish with high communicative capacity. To this end, most of our classes are held in the target language, as is all student work produced in these classes, including discussions, oral presentations and written work. Our majors are able to identify and analyze a range of forms and styles of cultural expression, including diverse literary genres, visual art, film, performance and drama. Majors graduate with the capacity to think historically, to identify and utilize a variety of literary and cultural theories, to interpret original creative works, as well as develop comparative and interdisciplinary analyses.
Portuguese and Brazilian Studies Major Learning Goals:
Upon graduation, our students are able to speak, read and write with accuracy at a high-intermediate to advanced level in Portuguese and to negotiate diverse academic, professional and social situations with effective communicative capacity. To this end, a number of core classes are held in the target language and engage students in a variety of communication activities, including informal conversation, discussion of authentic texts, presentations, personal essays and research papers. Beyond linguistic competency, majors graduate with a high degree of intercultural literacy, having studied aspects of Brazilian and Lusophone cultures and societies through a combination of humanities and social science perspectives.
Majors, as well as non-majors interested in gaining intensive linguistic and cultural proficiency, are strongly encouraged to go abroad for one semester or one year.
The S/U grading option is not allowed for courses counting toward the majors.
The Major in Spanish
Ten (10) semester courses: Five of them will have the following requirements, to be taken at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Smith College:
- One 200-level course, SPN 245 or above
- One course focused on writing in Spanish. Can be fulfilled with any class designated by the department as meeting the Spanish writing requirement. Designation will be included in the course description.
- One semester of Portuguese (POR 110, Beginning Portuguese through Music I or POR 125, Elementary Portuguese for Spanish-speakers).
- Two 300-level SPN courses, taken at Smith, normally during the senior year.
The remaining five courses will be electives dealing with the languages and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world, offered by or cross-listed with the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Smith or in approved Spanish language programs abroad. One of these electives can be a class taught in English if it deals with the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world--this includes bilingual or English-speaking U.S. Latinx communities. The English-language class can be taken at Smith or the Five Colleges. SPN 112Y can be counted towards the major as one course. For classes taken abroad, credit will be granted at the 200-level.
The Major in Portuguese–Brazilian Studies
Eight semester courses. POR 100Y or POR 110 and POR 111, or POR 125; POR 200 or POR 215; and one 200-level course in Brazilian or Comparative Lusophone Studies taught in Portuguese. Five other semester courses related to the Portuguese-speaking world, one of which must be at the 300-level. Courses may be selected from any number of fields such as literature and language, history, Africana studies, anthropology, art, dance, music, economics and government.
Advisers for Study Abroad
Students interested in approved programs for Spanish in Latin America or Spain should consult faculty who teach our Spanish classes. Students interested in Brazil and other Portuguese-speaking countries should consult our Portuguese faculty: Marguerite Itamar Harrison and Malcolm K. McNee.
The Minor in Spanish
Six semester courses in Spanish. Two of these six courses will be the following requirements, to be taken at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Smith College:
- One 200-level course, SPN 245 or above
- One class focused on writing in Spanish. Can be fulfilled with any class designated by the department as meeting the Spanish writing requirement. Designation will be included in the course description.
The remaining four courses will be electives dealing with the languages and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world, offered by or cross-listed with the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Smith, at Spanish programs in the Five Colleges, or in approved Spanish language programs abroad. SPN 112Y can be counted towards the minor as one course.
The Minor in Portuguese & Brazilian Studies
Five semester courses. POR 100Y or POR 110 and POR 111, or POR 125; POR 200 or POR 215; and one 200-level course in Brazilian or Comparative Lusophone Studies taught in Portuguese. Two other semester courses related to the Portuguese-speaking world, one of which must be at the 300-level. Courses may be selected from any number of fields such as literature and language, history, Africana studies, anthropology, art, dance, music, economics and government.
A Spanish or Portuguese-Brazilian studies major may desire to conduct an independent honors project. Please consult the honors directory to learn more about the requirements.
Marguerite Itamar Harrison (Portuguese and Brazilian Studies)
Reyes Lázaro (Spanish)
SPB 430D Honors Project
Normally offered each fall
SPB 431 Honors Project
Normally offered each fall
SPN 430D Honors Project
Normally offered both fall and spring semesters
SPN 431 Honors Project
Normally offered each fall
The department has two abbreviations for the language and culture of three broad areas of study: POR (Portuguese-speaking world), and SPN (Spain and Spanish America). All courses are taught in Spanish or Portuguese unless otherwise indicated. Students with prior Spanish language experience must take the placement test.
In addition to the courses listed in the Smith catalog under SPN (Spanish) and POR (Portuguese), you may search for relevant courses taught in English by our faculty, listed under LAS (Latin American and Latino/a Studies), CLT (Comparative Literature) and SWG (Study of Women and Gender).
The maximum enrollment in all language course sections is 18 students unless otherwise indicated. Also, please note that the S/U option is not normally granted for language classes.
See the Smith College Course Catalog for complete information and course listings.
Courses available at Amherst, Hamsphire and Mount Holyoke colleges and the University of Massachusetts Amherst can be found in the Five College Course Guide.
The department’s transdisciplinarity is reflected in the diverse academic affiliations and collaborative relationships that faculty members hold across the Smith campus and the Five Colleges. We work with Latin American and Latino/a studies, Iberian and European studies, comparative literature, Jewish studies, medieval studies, Middle East studies, environmental science and policy, theatre, art, and the study of women and gender, as well as with the concentrations in poetry, translation studies, women's education and sustainable food.
See the Smith College Catalog for cross-listed courses.
We strongly encourage students to spend one semester or a year studying abroad in a Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking country. Many students have benefited from the total cultural immersion and the wide array of specialized courses offered at universities in nine different countries.
Advisers for Study Abroad
- For Spanish-speaking countries: Members of the department
- For Brazil & Portugal: Malcolm McNee and Marguerite Itamar Harrison
Students in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese Studies have been recipients of several prizes and fellowships.
The Gabriela Mistral Student Prize for Spanish
This prize will be awarded to a graduating Spanish major for the best senior essay or project in Spanish. Submissions, one per student, may include papers, portfolios or projects in Spanish, completed for courses or special studies during the last two semesters of study, excluding honors theses. Submissions are due by noon on the first weekday of the spring semester exam period to Michelle Finley. Potential applicants should contact Spanish faculty with any questions. See the full description and application information.
The Clarice Lispector Student Prize in Portuguese
This prize will be awarded to a graduating Portuguese & Brazilian studies major or minor for the best senior essay or project in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies. Submissions, one per student, may include papers, portfolios or projects completed for courses or special studies during the last two semesters of study, excluding honors theses. If interested in being considered for the prize, please see the full description and application information. Submit entries to Michelle Finley.
The Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation
White Pine Press, the Cliff Becker Endowment for the Literary Arts and the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) awarded Chloe Hill '12 the fifth annual Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation, which produces one volume of literary translation in English annually. In 2014, with the support of a Fulbright fellowship, Hill traveled to Brazil to work alongside Myriam Fraga translating a selection of poems.
The $32,000 Beinecke Scholarship is offered for the courageous selection of graduate studies in the arts, humanities or social sciences anywhere in the world by undergraduates. Smith is allowed one nominee. Angela Acosta '17 was the department's most recent recipient.
Majors in the department have gone to Brazil, Andorra and elsewhere to puruse research, teaching and other opportunities. See the Smith Fulbright website for more information.
Students are eligible to present an honors thesis.
International Experience Grants for Spanish and Portuguese Majors
Spanish and Portuguese department faculty offer advising and support to students who wish to apply for Smith College International Experience Grants, administered by the Office of International Study. These grants provide partial funding toward international projects during interterm or the summer that deepen a student’s academic engagement. Applications for awards of between $250 and $3,500 will be considered, with an average award amount of $1,000.
Peer Tutoring in Spanish
Aidan Coffin Ness ’20
Liv Combest ’22 (spring only)
Thao Kahn ’21 (fall only)
Lydia Quevedo ’21 (fall only)
Emma O’Neill-Dietel ’21 (spring only)
Sheila Hernandez ’21
Fernando Manchón Pachon ’20
Peer Tutoring in Portuguese
Thao Kahn ’21
To learn more, visit the Jacobson Center website.
Spanish, Portuguese & Brazilian Studies Abroad
An aqueduct in Segovia, Spain, provided the inspiration for this photo by Giovanna Sabini-Leite ’21, exhibited in the 2017 Global Encounters Photo Contest.