A group of students in front of a large Guadalajara sign.
Program Overview

Hispanic Studies

Estudios literarios y culturales.

As part of an Oberlin-sponsored language intensive, students spent winter term in the historic city of Guadalajara.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Patty Tovar

Fluency in Language, Literature, and Culture

Oberlin's Department of Hispanic Studies invites students to develop a broad and intimate understanding of the languages, literatures and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. Through a broad and diverse range of courses, cultural programming, and study abroad opportunities, our students gain a versatile skill set, including advanced linguistic proficiency in all areas of Spanish language; deep cultural competence in the rich and varied communities of Latin America, Spain and Latinx U.S.; and the theoretical and practical bases to do advanced literary and cultural analyses of literature, history, film, folklore, pop music, and other cultural forms. Our majors and minors go on to careers in every discipline, including journalism, law, higher education, advocacy and the arts.

A Vibrant Intellectual and Artistic Community

All Hispanic studies majors pursue an independent research project in consultation with a faculty mentor. The interdisciplinary nature of the major encourages students to craft creative projects growing out of their coursework, study away experiences, and cocurricular interests. As part of the Spanish in the SITES program (Spanish in the Elementary Schools), interested students receive rigorous pedagogical training in language instruction while gaining community-based service-learning experience. Related opportunities to connect coursework with hands-on, real-world experience include the Immigrant Worker Project, which teaches ESL to residents of Lorain County; the America Reads tutoring program, working to promote literacy in Oberlin’s public school; and a number of student-led groups including Oberlin in Solidarity with El Salvador (OSES) and Oberlin in Solidarity with Guatemala (OSSGUA).

More than 350 Obies have taught Spanish to children in the Oberlin elementary schools through the SITES program since it began in the fall of 2005
Learn more about the SITES program

One Community, Several Pathways

Interested in studying the wider Spanish-speaking world? Oberlin has four academic programs you can major in, and you can choose more than one: Hispanic studies, Latin American studies, comparative American studies, and comparative literature.

Two students looking at a colorful, primary-color mural.
More than 80% of Hispanic studies majors study abroad

La Casa Hispánica

La Casa Hispánica, officially known as Harvey House or Spanish House, is a theme-based residence hall for students interested in learning and speaking Spanish. The Hispanic studies and Latin American studies departments often sponsor functions at the Casa for students eager to practice and improve their Spanish-speaking skills.

A large group of faculty, staff and students on the porch of La Casa Hispánica.

Featured Courses

HISP 354

¡Stop the Presses! Journalism in the Spanish-Speaking World

This course studies both the history and the practice of journalism in the Spanish-speaking world and analyzes issues relating to censorship, ethics, politics and entertainment. Students engage in a wide-range of journalistic writing including the popular nota roja, sports journalism, the long interview, the political expos and the literary-oriented crica. A portion of the course will be dedicated to journalistic writing.

Taught by
Sergio Gutiérrez Negrón
HISP 337

Cien Años de Soledad

In this course, students engage with Gabriel García Márquez’s bestselling novel to explore larger questions of Latin American history and politics, as well as the novel’s influence on world literature. The course helps students gain the cultural context to more fully understand the book and to deconstruct the phenomenon of magical realism.

Taught by
Claire Solomon ’98
HISP 408

Bad Education: Female Instruction in Ibero-America

This course explores the history of women’s access to education in the Spanish-speaking world from the sixteenth-century to the present. Although patriarchal and Catholic mandates of domesticity and submissiveness historically structured hegemonic female instruction, alternative models always found a way of guaranteeing female access to knowledge, orthodox and unorthodox. We will study key figures who, through religion, politics, or culture, impacted the formal and informal education of women.

Taught by
Ana María Díaz Burgos
HISP 445

Crime, Sex and Ghosts of the Past: Contemporary Spanish Fiction and Film

Spain’s transition to democracy following Franco’s death in 1975 was characterized by two contradictory phenomena: a sudden moral, sexual, and political liberation, and a collective “pact of oblivion” that indefinitely postponed any reckoning with the dictatorial past. This course studies the film and fiction of post-Franco Spain, rife with sex and crime but also haunted by the ghosts of history. Includes works by Martín Gaite, Vázquez Montalban, Llamazares, Almodóvar, Medem, and Saura.

Taught by
Sebastiaan Faber

Student Profiles

From Oberlin to Colombia

Brianne Cotter ’20, a Hispanic studies major, was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Colombia. Cotter credits her involvement with the Department of Hispanic Studies and SITES as reasons for her interest in teaching, language learning, and travel. During the 2017 winter term, she spent time in Guadalajara, Mexico, with Oberlin professors and peers.

Brianne Cotter.

Fulbright Teaching Fellow

After graduation, Amanda Medendorp ’19, a Hispanic studies and law and society double major, will teach English in Mexico as a Fulbright fellow. She was drawn to the fellowship because of her previous experience in Spanish in the Elementary Schools (SITES), a program run by Kim Faber.

Amanda Medendorp

Nonprofit Fundraising in Bogotá

At Oberlin, Dylan Mehri ’18 majored in politics and Hispanic studies, played on the varsity football and club rugby teams, and worked as a peer advisor in the Career Development Center. After graduating, Dylan worked as the international fundraising coordinator for Niñas Sin Miedo (Fearless Girls), a nonprofit organization in Bogotá, Colombia.

Dylan Mehri

What does Hispanic Studies at Oberlin look like?

Kristina Mani, Sebastiaan Faber, and Renee Romano.

Professors Kristina Mani, Sebastiaan Faber, and Renee Romano collaborated on a StudiOC cluster “Forms of Justice: Democracy, Historical Memory, and the Legacies of Violence.”

Photo credit: Jennifer Manna
Sergio Gutiérrez Negrón, Nina Harris, and a guest.

Professor Sergio Gutiérrez Negrón (left) speaks with Nina Harris ’20 and a guest at Harris’s exhibition of portraits of life in San Lucas Tollman, from Central Guatemala.

Photo credit: Pang Fei Chiang ’19
A student holding a sign that reads, "What linguistic, ethical, and artistic concerns are implicit in translating and producing a work of theater that confronts a traumatic history in post-dictatorship Argentina?

The senior symposium offers graduating Oberlin students the chance to present their research to peers and a faculty audience.

Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones ’97
Claire Solomon.

Professor Claire Solomon leading a course on contemporary Latin American literature.

Photo credit: Zach Christy

Next Steps

Get in touch; we would love to chat.

Peters Hall and Cox Administration Building looking over a magnolia tree in spring.
Photo credit: John Seyfried