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Spanish & Hispanic Studies

Explore the Rich Diversity of the Hispanic World

Overview   |   Meet An Earlhamite   |   Our Faculty   |   Plan of Study   |   Courses  


A significant part of your experience as a Spanish and Hispanic Studies student at Earlham takes place outside the classroom, submerged into the Hispanic culture by living in a Spanish-speaking country or working with a local Latino community in Richmond.

Student-faculty collaborative research projects are common at Earlham. Recent ones include Gender in Film in Spain, Political Performance of the Americas, Comparative Creoles, and Indigenous Resistance Movements in Mexico.

Earlham offers off-campus semesters in Ecuador, Spain, and a Border Studies program based in Tucson, Arizona. The Department regularly offers month-long programs, including a walking pilgrimage in Camino de Santiago, Spain.

There are numerous internship possibilities for Spanish speakers at such local organizations as Amigos, the Richmond Latino Center.


Our graduates have continued their studies in graduate schools at Harvard, Brandeis, Arizona, Texas, and California-Riverside. Earlham ranks in the 96th percentile among U.S. colleges and universities for the percentage of our graduates who go on to earn doctorates in Spanish.

The language proficiency acquired by our students allows them to enter international markets and to work for NGOs in Latin America or in organizations like NPR, Democracy Now, and Committee on U.S.-Latin American Relations. Others earn Fulbright and Watson fellowships.

Spanish and Hispanic studies prepares students to pursue careers in many related fields as well as medicine and law.

Meet An Earlhamite
Jared Patton
A Fulbright Scholar in Spain

Jared Patton '13 joined the ranks of such notable individuals as John Lithgow, Sylvia Plath, Dale Chihuly, Aaron Copland and Joseph Hellar by being honored as a Fulbright grant recipient.

Dennis Vera
A Resilient Heart

Dennis Vera ’19 places a priority on people, loves to socialize and has a deep love for family. She also refuses to give up.

Seth Herr
Founder of The Bike Index

Seth Herr '10 is fighting back against bike theft. His weapon is The Bike Index, the open-source bike registry he developed. 

Our Faculty

Edwin Alcarás
Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish

Rodolfo Guzmán
Professor of Spanish

Manuel R. Montes
Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish

Chris Swafford
Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies

Belén Villarreal
Assistant Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies

Cynthia Grinspan
Administrative Assistant
Plan of Study

General Education Requirements

The Spanish and Hispanic Studies Department offers two tracks that meet the Language component of the Perspectives on Diversity - Language Requirement: (1) SPAN 101 and 102, a yearlong beginning level program; and (2) SPAN 105, SuperSpanish, which completes the requirement in one semester. SPAN 201 may fulfill the Language component of the Perspectives on Diversity Requirement as it applies to particular student cases.

Because our upper-level courses are topic based, some may fulfill either the Domestic or International component of the Perspectives on Diversity Requirement. Other general education requirements may occasionally be fulfilled by courses offered by Spanish and Hispanic faculty. Students should consult the course offerings for up-to-date information about particular classes.

The Major

Majors design their courses according to personal interests and goals, and in consultation with Spanish and Hispanic Studies faculty and their individual major adviser.

Spanish and Hispanic Studies majors are required to complete a minimum of 32 hours at the 300-level or above including:

  • SPAN 301 Introduction to Text Analysis
  • Three courses at the 400-level, two of these courses must be taken on campus and one must be from the following list:
    • SPAN 416 Topics in Cultural Studies
    • SPAN 418 Topics in Latino/Latin American Studies
    • SPAN 425 Topics in Criticism and Theory
    • SPAN 426 Topics in Literature and Text Analysis
  • A language proficiency examination (generally taken for the first time during the Spring Semester of the Junior year).
  • SPAN 488 Senior Capstone Experience (seminar with extensive paper)
  • Complete a semester-long off-campus program in a Spanish-speaking region of the world. (Up to 10 credit hours from an approved off-campus program may be applied to the Major).

The design of the Major may include two courses taken outside of the Spanish and Hispanic Studies Department that complement a student's course of study.

The Minor

Students choosing to minor in Spanish and Hispanic Studies are required to:

  • Complete 20 hours of coursework at the 300-level or above including:
    • SPAN 301 Introduction to Text Analysis
    • Two courses at the 400-level
    • A language proficiency examination (generally taken for the first time during the Spring Semester of the Junior year)

With few exceptions, minors also participate on a semester-long off-campus program in a Spanish-speaking country for which up to six credit hours are awarded toward the Minor.

Off-Campus Opportunities


It is essential for our students to be exposed to and educated about other peoples and cultures. On off-campus study, students learn not only in a classroom setting, but also through lived experiences. We offer both semester-long programs and the shorter, intensive May Term classes in a variety of Spanish-speaking parts of the world.

Semester Programs:  During semester programs, students take a full range of classes, from history to art to language to politics, live with families, and engage in some type of internship or field study research. Our semester programs include:

  • Ecuador — every fall
  • Spain — spring in odd-numbered years
  • U.S./Mexico Border — fall and spring programs

May Terms: Following the Spring Semester (in May), students have the opportunity to participate in intensive May Term courses. Some courses are offered on-campus, but many require travel to on-site locations. A sample of recent off-campus May Term courses includes:

  • Intensive language and cultural education in Costa Rica
  • Walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain
  • Culture and Language in Curaçao

Experiential Education

Earlham's Spanish and Hispanic Studies Department believes that education must be experiential and it must be socially responsive and responsible. To support those ideals, the College offers a variety of opportunities, both on- and off-campus.

Majors and minors may choose to participate with a faculty member in a collaborative student/faculty project, in which a small group of students and a professor work together to research a topic and present it to the community. Recent projects have included:

  • Political Performance in the Americas
  • Minority Discourse in Spain
  • Creole language and culture in the Caribbean

During semester and May Term off-campus programs, all students participate in a class-required hands-on project in the community in which they are living. Some of these recent field study or internship projects have included:

  • Volunteering in neighborhood organizations in Spain
  • Working with border human rights groups such as Derechos Humano or Tierra y Libertad
  • Working with a doctor in rural Nicaragua

Extracurricular Opportunities

Education in Spanish and Hispanic Studies happens outside of the classroom as well. Students at Earlham may find several extracurricular activities that can augment their studies. Some may be scholarly in nature, such as a lecture by a well-known author or social activist. Others may be more spontaneous, such as a pick-up soccer game on a Saturday afternoon. Examples include:

  • Living at the Spanish House (La Casa Hispana) — a College-owned residence where students with a similar interest in Spanish and Hispanic Studies live. Residents need not be majors.
  • Belonging to the Sociedad de Estudiantes Latinos — an on-campus student group based in Earlham's Latino cultural center
  • Participating in the Latino Festival — a campus-wide celebration in April every year.
  • Going to campus lectures and performances — visiting writers and artists come to campus regularly. Some recent events have included Guatemalan human rights activist Carlos Escalante, writer Ana Castillo, performing artists Lila Downs, Coco Fusco and Rebel Díaz, Creole linguist Nick Faraclas; and Earlham graduates Daniel Hernandez, Minister of Immigration outside of Mexico, and Andres Thomas, activist and Democracy Now collaborator in Central America.

* Key

Courses that fulfill
General Education Requirements:

  • (A-AR) = Analytical - Abstract Reasoning
  • (A-QR) = Analytical - Quantitative
  • (D-D) = Diversity - Domestic
  • (D-I) = Diversity - International
  • (D-L) = Diversity - Language
  • (ES) = Earlham Seminar
  • (IE) = Immersive Experience
  • (RCH) = Research
  • (W) = Wellness
  • (WI) = Writing Intensive
  • (AY) = Offered in Alternative Year

*SPAN 101 BASIC SPANISH I (5 credits)
The first semester of a year-long beginning Spanish program, intended for students who have no previous experience with Spanish or for those who have been placed into the course. The course provides a communicative approach to basic Spanish that emphasizes the development of language skills as well as the cultural competence needed to communicate effectively with native speakers.Offered Fall Semester. (D-L)

*SPAN 102 BASIC SPANISH II (5 credits)
A continuation of SPAN 101. Offered Fall and Spring semesters. (D-L)

*SPAN 105 SUPER SPANISH (8 credits)
Accelerates the acquisition of competencies in Spanish while reducing the time required to fulfill the language requirement from two semesters to one. Through a daily formal class plus approximately two hours daily of small group exercises and activities such as films and food (one in the morning, one in the afternoon), students learn how to be engaged citizens in a cooperative learning environment and how to communicate their ideas effectively in Spanish. Additionally, Super Spanish includes required movement activities such as walking or yoga, and students successfully completing the course will also earn .5 credits for AWPE. Students who take Super Spanish should consider registering for only 2 other courses.Offered Fall or Spring semesters. (D-L)

Students continue development of conversational skills, review grammar, and engage in vocabulary building through structured and unstructured conversations, readings, and activities. Offered Fall and Spring semesters. Prerequisite: SPAN 102 or placement or consent of the instructor. (D-L)

How do we study, analyze and discuss topics such as discrimination, human rights, social inequality, class, gender and race in Spanish? While we continue to develop our oral and writing skills as well as lexical and grammatical structures in Spanish, this class will focus on the topic of social justice movements through the study and discussion of different texts such as documentaries, newspapers, magazines and short stories. Prerequisite: SPAN 201 or placement.

Upper-Level Courses

SPAN 301 is the Departmental gateway course to all upper-level courses. It is required of all majors and minors, and suggested for anyone who wishes to continue classes in Spanish and Hispanic Studies. Beyond SPAN 301, upper-level Spanish and Hispanic Studies courses are organized around four broad disciplinary categories or clusters:

  1. Linguistics, language and pedagogy
  2. Texts and cultures
  3. Creative writing
  4. Film studies

Students may pick one or more of the introductory 300-level courses in these areas to continue their studies. 300-level courses may be prerequisites for the 400-level topics courses.

Designed to introduce students to text analysis and effective writing in Spanish. May be organized around a cultural or literary theme. Prerequisite: SPAN 202 or placement or consent of the instructor. Required of all Spanish and Hispanic Studies majors and minors. (WI)

A general introduction to the field of linguistics or pedagogy as it relates to Spanish. Topics vary. May be taken more than once if different topics. Topics may include phonetics, phonology, morphology and syntax in Spanish, practical applications for understanding and improving students' own language skills as well as issues for teaching Spanish to English speakers or English to Spanish speakers. Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or placement or consent of the instructor.

*SPAN 346 TEXTS AND CULTURES (3 credits)
Designed to study aspects of the societies and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. Topics vary. Students may take this course more than once if different topics. In this course, students will continue to sharpen their skills in textual and cultural interpretation. Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or placement or consent of the instructor. (D-D, D-I or RCH dependent on topic)

*SPAN 355 CREATIVE WRITING (3 credits)
Designed to allow advanced language students a chance to write original works in Spanish as well as read examples of texts from the Spanish-speaking world. Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or placement or consent of the instructor. (WI)

Studies the development of movies and movie-making in the Hispanic world. Topics vary. May be taken more than once if different topics.  Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or placement or consent of the instructor. (D-I)

Designed to study of aspects of Spanish linguistics, including semantics, historical linguistics, regional variations, dialects and creoles, translation, and Spanish in the U.S. Students will perform independent research projects in areas of their choice. Prerequisite: SPAN 336 or consent of the instructor. (D-I, RCH)

Students consider a range of issues in translation, such as comparative stylistics, machine translation, and gender in translation. In addition to readings, discussion, and research on particular aspects of translation, students design and carry out individual and group translation projects. May be team taught with other languages. Prerequisites: Vary according to topic.

Focuses on advanced grammar issues in Spanish, especially applied to translations between Spanish and English. A seven-week course. Prerequisites: Requirements vary; consent of the instructor.

Designed to allow students to engage in serious cultural analysis of a specific topic. May be taken more than once. Prerequisite: SPAN 346 or consent of the instructor. (D-D, D-I or RCH dependent on topic)


Topics ranging from literature to history, including U.S. Chicano and Latino cultural studies. May be taught in English or Spanish. Prerequisites: Vary according to topic and language in which the course is taught. (D-D, or D-I, dependent on topic)

Designed to sharpen students’ abilities in text analysis and critical theory. May be organized around a theme or geographic region or historical period. Prerequisite: SPAN 346 or consent of the instructor.

A study of texts written in Spanish, often through thematic approaches or historical periods or movements. May be taken more than once if different themes. Prerequisite: SPAN 346 or consent of the instructor. General Education credit varies depending on the topic; see course schedule. (WI)

Develops students’ appreciation of texts from various countries or regions. Students may be asked to read texts in translation or in the original language. Prerequisites: Vary according to theme. (WI)

SPAN 481 INTERNSHIP (1-4 credits)
Students should consult a faculty adviser before registration.

Students must be selected as a Teaching Assistant for a Spanish course and consult with the instructor before registration.

Collaborative research with faculty funded by Ford/Knight Program. (RCH)

SPAN 485 INDEPENDENT STUDY (1-3 credits)
Independent studies cover material not taught in our regularly offered courses. Intended for advanced students who have developed a special interest in Spanish and Hispanic Studies, such as a literature project, a cultural theme or some other independent research. Independent Study proposals must be approved by the Department. Only one 485 course may be counted toward the Major or Minor. Prerequisite: Consent of the Department.

SPAN 487  SENIOR THESIS (1-3 credits)
Only students who have been invited by Department to write a senior honors thesis may enroll in this course. Credits for this course do not count toward requirements for the major. Offered spring semester.

SPAN 488  SENIOR SEMINAR (4 credits)
Required of all majors, double majors, and interdisciplinary and interdepartmental majors. Part of the Spanish and Hispanic Studies majors' senior comprehensives and involves a substantial project or thesis. Offered Fall Semester and generally open only to Senior majors.

May Term Courses

Current programs follow:

CURAÇAO (3 credits)
Language and cultural immersion course offered on-site in Curaçao. Prerequisites may vary. Consent of the instructor and acceptance to the May Term off-campus program is required.

SPAIN (3 credits)
Special topics course offered on-site in Spain during May Term. Prerequisites may vary. Consent of the instructor and acceptance to the May Term off-campus program is required.

COSTA RICA (3 credits)
Language and cultural immersion course offered on-site in San José, Costa Rica. Prerequisites may vary. Consent of the instructor and acceptance to the May Term off-campus program is required.