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Arts and Sciences Learning Objectives

Romance Languages


The Department of Romance Languages hosts four major international languages (French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish) and offers a wide range of courses in French, Francophone, Spanish, Latin American, Italian and Luso-speaking literatures, mainly in the target languages, but also in English. In addition, the Department offers courses in film, literary theory, cultural studies and creative writing related to the countries where these languages are used.

All these courses open the door to a better understanding of a very important cultural tradition; the one derived from the old Roman Empire, transformed and expressed over centuries in vibrant and modern national and regional forms of discursive production. Moreover, with the appearance of colonial and postcolonial societies from the early-modern period on, many indigenous and local traditions have transformed and enriched each one of the Romance languages, giving them new vitality and world presence.

Students take language courses in French, Spanish, Italian or Portuguese to communicate in the spoken and written language. This understanding allows them to read and appreciate a nation's culture more profoundly, and interpret the language's corresponding historical and social contexts in the literature courses and research of the Department.

French, Spanish, and Italian, are considered strong Liberal Arts concentrations (unfortunately, we do not offer a major in Portuguese at this time); they are well regarded by employers and by graduate and professional schools. In recent years, the Department's senior majors have entered such diverse fields as banking, business, medicine, communications, and education. Students who have majored or double-majored in Romance languages are employed by international firms or work for such prestigious organizations as the U.N. and often live overseas; others go on to law, medical, or business schools. Some of our best students continue with their study of French or Spanish by applying to graduate programs in French, Comparative Literature, Spanish and Latin American Studies. Recent surveys by government agencies, private foundations, and the popular press reveal a growing need for teachers of foreign languages, literatures, and civilizations at both the secondary and the university levels.

Students graduating with a major in a Romance language will have developed:

  • a capacity for critical thinking through literary and cultural analysis;
  • an understanding of the aesthetic and intellectual complexities of literary and cultural texts from one or more countries where a Romance language is spoken;
  • an ability to engage in scholarly research and/or creative work, and to develop the necessary skills to carry out those tasks with rigor and originality;

They will have learned:

  • the linguistic and rhetorical skills to communicate in a Romance language in written and oral form;
  • the historical contexts in which to position important texts of the Romance literatures;
  • the variety of aesthetic movements that have shaped textual and cultural production over time;
  • the different critical approaches that enrich the reading of these texts while taking into account their fundamental and complex cultural context/s.
  • the basic elements of the ongoing dialogue about the importance of the humanities in a globalized world.

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