Goals for Student Learning

The mission of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese is to provide our majors with a refined knowledge of the literatures, cultures, societies and politics of the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking worlds. To address the range of areas in which this expertise can potentially be deployed, the department offers four different tracks: 1. Spanish Language, Literature & Culture or Portuguese Language, Literature & Culture; 2. POR & SPA Language, Literature & Culture; 3. Interdisciplinary, which combines the target language and culture with another field; and 4. Creative Arts.

In response to the variety of interests and career goals of our students, we have expanded the range of course types and have opened perspectives for independent work. The diversity of the faculty’s approaches, as well as the preeminence of the multidisciplinary perspective represented by cultural studies, allow us to offer courses that include literary, cultural, visual, and political analysis, translation theory and practice, studies on diversity and inequality, creative writing, etc. In recent years, our students have successfully defended senior theses of the most diverse nature: e.g., cultural and literary research, journalistic chronicles, ethnography, creative writing, etc.

The academic itinerary of Spanish and Portuguese majors attends the following learning goals:

  • To acquire a sophisticated knowledge of the contextual and historical specificities of the target culture(s) and their linguistic circulation, as well as to understand their positioning and involvement in global cultural and social networks.
  • To master the necessary methodological tools to critically analyze the studied topics. These include but are not limited to literary close reading, film studies, and cultural analysis.
  • To acquire the research skills that are necessary to produce original and sophisticated pieces of work on the target topics. These include but are not limited to quantitative and qualitative analysis, development of archival research, and conduction of ethnographic work.
  • To become familiar with the main currents in critical theory, especially those produced and circulating in the regions studied. Also, to be able to apply critical theory and other secondary sources in the development of independent research, whether it is aimed at creative work or at a scholarly essay.
  • To use their acquired knowledge and skills to actively intervene in a field of expertise, whether in education, cultural institutions, public policy, or any other sector.

Careers 

Students majoring in Spanish and/or Portuguese acquire a sophisticated knowledge of the literatures, cultures, societies and politics of the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking worlds. Such refined knowledge is invaluable nowadays for almost any career, in a global era in which mutual understanding and communication between cultures are paramount. 

Recent majors have taken up careers in law, government service, business, teaching, medicine, non-governmental agencies, and international affairs.

Advanced Placement

An Advanced Placement Examination in Spanish (Language and/or Literature) with a score of 5 or SAT Subject Test score of at least 760 is required to satisfy the A.B. foreign language requirement at entrance, or for admission to a 200-level course. A score of 7 on the higher-level IB test or a grade of A on the British A-level exam also fulfills the requirement. 

Prerequisites

The normal requirement for admission to the department is successful completion of two 200-level courses in Spanish or one 200-level course in Portuguese.

Declaration of Major

Before or right after declaring a major in Spanish and/or Portuguese in March of sophomore year, please email the Director of Undergraduate Studies to set up an appointment. Majors automatically default into the Track 1 sub-plan. (See track descriptions below.) There will be an opportunity to elect a sub-plan during the declaration period. However, it can be elected or changed at any time during junior or senior year by contacting the department's Undergraduate Administrator.

Early Major

Qualified students are encouraged to decide on their major as early as possible in their sophomore year. In this way they can benefit from departmental advising on course selection and on the possibility of spending a semester or the whole junior year abroad.

Program of Study

All Spanish majors are strongly advised to take one advanced language course (SPA 205, SPA 207, SPA 207S, SPA 208S, SPA 209 or SPA 307), unless the Director of Undergraduate Studies (in consultation with the language directors) determines that the respective student’s language skills do not warrant taking such course.

All Portuguese majors are required to take at least one 200-level POR course.

All Spanish majors must take one course in pre-1800 literature. University regulations limit to 12 the number of departmental courses allowed to each student in their major. Students cannot earn both a SPO major (in any track) and a SPO certificate (in any language). Students interested in focusing both in Spanish and Portuguese may choose Track 2 for their major.

Tracks

Departmental courses cover a wide array of literary, cultural, social, historical, and political topics. Students are, therefore, able to pursue courses of study that are tailor-made to their own individual interests. The department offers four different tracks for majors:

Please note that an upper division course is any course above SPA 209 or POR 209.

Track 1 - One Language - Spanish Language, Literature & Culture or Portuguese Language, Literature & Culture Track

Major in one language, literature, and culture (Spanish or Portuguese). Requires a minimum of eight upper-division courses in the language of major. Up to two of those courses may be taken in English, in which case all written work must be completed in the target language.

Track 2 Two Language, Literature & Culture (POR & SPA) Track

Major in two languages, literature and cultures (Spanish and Portuguese; or Spanish/Portuguese and another language). Requires a combination of five upper-division courses in Spanish or Portuguese and three upper-division courses in the second language. One of the five upper-division courses in Spanish or Portuguese may be taken in English, in which case all written work must be completed in the target language.

Track 3 - Interdisciplinary Track

Major in Spanish or Portuguese with another related field (e.g. Urban Studies, Architecture, Global Health & Health Policy, Environmental Studies, Humanistic Studies, Sociology, European Studies, International Studies, Latino Studies, Latin American Studies, Comparative Literature, History, Politics, Anthropology). Requires a combination of five upper-division courses in Spanish or Portuguese and three upper-division courses in the secondary field. One of the five upper-division courses in Spanish or Portuguese may be taken in English, in which case all written work must be completed in the target language.

Track 4 - Creative Arts Track

Major in Spanish or Portuguese with the creative arts (e.g. creative writing, theater, visual arts, translation). Requires a combination of five upper-division courses in Spanish or Portuguese and three upper-division courses in the creative arts. One of the five upper-division courses in Spanish or Portuguese may be taken in English, in which case all written work must be completed in the target language.

Track Requirements

Any track in the major in Spanish and/or Portuguese Literature and Cultures requires a minimum of eight upper-division courses, at least five of which must be in the language of major. With the approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, up to three courses taken during a semester abroad may count towards the major if the student is pursuing Track 1 or Track 2. Up to two courses taken during a semester abroad may be counted towards the major if the student is pursuing Track 3 or Track 4.

Independent Work

Junior Papers

Majors are strongly advised to take SPA/POR 330 during the fall of their junior year. This course is designed to introduce students to research methods and to guide them in the production of their first Junior Paper.

Majors should discuss as soon as possible their area of interest with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in order to find the most appropriate advisers for the Junior Papers. By the end of September (first JP), and by mid-February (second JP), all juniors should have contacted their advisers to discuss a plan of work.

The first JP (Fall semester) should be about 4,000 words, and the second JP (Spring semester) should be between 5,000 and 8,000 words. Both JPs can be written in English, in which case a three-page summary in the target language must be provided. Or, the JPs can be written in the target language in which case a summary is not needed. Any extensions beyond the University deadline date need pre-approval from both the Director of Undergraduate Studies and Residential College Dean. All JPs must include Princeton University's honor pledge.

Majors following two languages are encouraged to write one JP in each of the languages of major.

Senior Thesis

Majors should select a Senior Thesis adviser by the end of September at the latest. The Senior Thesis is normally written in English, and should be between 15,000 and 20,000 words. Topics chosen in the past have ranged over the whole field of Spanish and Portuguese studies, from linguistic problems and literary techniques through close textual analysis to thematic and ideological studies. Students primarily interested in culture and civilization have written on art, political and economic issues, education, and a variety of social questions. The Senior Thesis is a major commitment of a student's time and energy, and the most important yardstick for choosing a topic is willingness to spend many hours on a particular set of texts or problems. Please visit the Mudd Library website for inspiration and a listing of previous Senior Thesis topics over the years. More detailed information can be found in the Senior Thesis Handbook.

Any extensions beyond the University deadline date need pre-approval from both the Director of Undergraduate Studies and Residential College Dean.

Resources are available to assist students with the costs of Senior Thesis research including, when appropriate, travel abroad. The best time to use them is the summer preceding the senior year.

Senior Departmental Examination

The senior departmental/comprehensive exam will consist of an oral presentation of the Senior Thesis. It will be followed by questions from faculty regarding the thesis content and bibliography, as well as questions related to the course work done by the student in the department.

Contacts