Romance Languages and Literatures

Kathy Richman, Director of Undergraduate Studies
Elvira G. Di Fabio, Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies

 

In the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures (RLL), undergraduates discover the development of literatures, cultures, critical approaches, and, of course, language – from the oldest manuscripts to the avant-garde – in French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.  The department offers courses in Catalan up to the intermediate level as well.  Students interested in advanced work in more than one language and tradition may pursue the Romance Studies track.

Courses in RLL invite undergraduates to engage deeply and critically with all kinds of texts and questions – from Don Quixote to the legacies of colonialism and the politics of post-war Europe – in a language other than English.  Students develop an understanding of the ways in which rhetorical devices like metaphor and hyperbole make cultural artifacts – from everyday materials to works of art – richer, more complex, and more demanding of in-depth analysis.  Concentrators find RLL a challenging and supportive environment.  Here, they learn to strengthen their capacity to interact in meaningful ways with people in dozens of countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe.  The skills in analysis, critical thinking, and communication which RLL students develop prepare them to act as informed and sophisticate global citizens.

Undergraduates who arrive at Harvard with advanced language skills begin with courses which provide a panoramic introduction to the literature, film, and culture of different regions and eras, all taught in the particular Romance language.  They may also take more specialized courses on specific topics or movements.  Those who enter with a foundation in one or more Romance languages begin with intermediate courses in language and culture, which focus on perfecting communication skills and cultural understanding in preparation for the advanced courses described above.  Many undergraduates who begin a new language at Harvard complete the concentration in RLL.

In beginning and intermediate courses in French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Catalan, students learn to communicate accurately and effectively in their chosen language.  Equally importantly, they become more attuned listeners.  As they develop an understanding of how people in different communities in the Romance-speaking world conceive of artistic, social, ethical, and political issues, their own sense of self grows and evolves.  In RLL, undergraduates achieve the linguistic and cultural fluency so crucial in today’s globalized world.

RLL offers summer programs taught by our own faculty in Paris, Buenos Aires, Milan/Siena, and Recife (2018).   Students enjoy intensive, in-depth, location-specific curricula while earning credits that count as two term-time courses.  Many find these programs an enriching and useful way to complete the concentration.

Concentrators in RLL work closely with faculty to develop and carry out research projects.  Senior theses and independent studies address a wide range of topics, for example: communication about the Zika virus in Brazil; the relation between racial and gender identities and modes of performance among expatriate musicians in Paris; a comparison of self-fashioning in Montaigne and Milton; and the particular experiences of creating literature, art, and museum exhibits as an immigrant/migrant/emigrant.

An undergraduate degree in RLL prepares students for work in the following areas, among others:

Medicine – internships and residencies abroad; international medical humanitarian organizations and voluntary programs; public health in the U.S. and overseas

Arts – museum work; filmmaking; publishing; journalism; fiction and other creative writing

Law – U.S. firms based abroad; international firms in the U.S.; human rights organizations; non-governmental organizations; foundations; foreign service and diplomacy

Teaching and Scholarship – bilingual and secondary schools; graduate programs leading to careers in teaching and research at colleges and universities

Business and Public Administration – international banking and investment firms; non-governmental organizations; foundations; advertising; consulting; import and export of specialty foods and wine.

CONCENTRATING IN ROMANCE LANGUAGES AND LITERATURES

A student concentrating in RLL will choose one of five Special Fields as the focus for work in the concentration, as follows:

  • French and Francophone Studies
  • Italian Studies
  • Portuguese and Brazilian Studies
  • Spanish, Latin American and Latino Studies
  • Romance Studies (study of 2 or more Romance languages)

Concentrators will take a sequence of courses in language and culture, plus a sequence of courses in literature, film, and culture and society in their chosen Special Field, the general requirements of which are outlined below.  In consultation with the Special Field Adviser and the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), concentrators develop and submit a Plan of Study that reflects both the scope of the chosen field and individual interests and goals.

CONCENTRATION REQUIREMENTS

Basic Requirements: 12 courses (48 credits)

  1. Required courses:
    1. Category A. Language and Culture courses: Two courses at the 40, 50, or 60 level. A maximum of two courses at this level may be counted toward the concentration requirement. A student who places out of category A must replace the two required courses with courses in categories B, D or E, or approved Gateway courses. See 5.g below, for information about concentration language requirement.

    2. Category B. Literature, film, and culture and society: Two courses at the 70 level.

    3. Category C. Sophomore Tutorial: Romance Studies 97.

    4. Category D. Four courses taught in Romance Languages and Literatures at the 80,100, and 200 levels. At least three of these courses must be taught in the special field language, and at least two must be at the 100 level or above.

    5. Two courses in related fields. A maximum of two courses in related fields may be counted toward the concentration requirement. In consultation with the Faculty Adviser and the DUS, students choose courses related to the study of Romance languages and literatures from such fields as Anthropology, Classics, Comparative Literature, Economics, Government, History, History of Art and Architecture, History of Science, Linguistics, Music, Philosophy, Psychology; Sociology; Women, Gender and Sexuality; Visual and Environmental Studies, among others.

    6. One elective course to be chosen from the categories above or as approved by the concentration adviser and DUS and in accordance with the rules stipulated below in “Other information.”

  2. Tutorial (letter graded): 
    1. Sophomore Tutorial: Romance Studies 97.  See item 1.c above. 
  3. Thesis: None
  4. Other information:
    1. a. Gateway courses: one General Education course and one Freshman Seminar may, on approval from the DUS, receive concentration credit in categories B, D, E and F.

    2. Study Abroad: Though not a requirement, study abroad, during the summer and/or the academic year is strongly encouraged. Summer courses taught in a Romance language may be approved for up to two courses of concentration credit. Term-time study abroad courses are eligible for a maximum of three courses for one semester (12 credits), or six courses for a full year (24 credits). The department works closely with the Office of International Education to recommend particular programs based on each student's specific needs and academic and cultural interests.

    3. At least one course in category B or D should deal with literature and culture before 1800.

    4. Residence requirement: RLL concentrators must take a minimum of six courses counted for the concentration in residence; honors concentrators must take a minimum of eight concentration courses in residence.

    5. Pass/Fail: Courses taken for concentration credit may not be taken Pass/Fail (with the exception of an approved Freshman Seminar).

    6. The Faculty Adviser and the DUS may approve substitutions of work not specifically listed above.

    7. Concentration language requirement: By the end of the junior year, concentrators are expected to demonstrate advanced oral and written proficiency in one Romance Language (two for Romance Studies concentrators). Advanced proficiency may be demonstrated by a score of 780 or above on the SATII or on the Harvard Placement Test, or by completion of a course at the 50-level or above with a grade of B or higher.

Requirements for Honors Track with Thesis: 14 courses (56 credits):

  1. Required courses. Same as Basic Requirements.  Students may take the Junior Tutorial to fulfill the requirement in 1.d. or may choose to take an elective course as outlined in 1.f. Plus:
    1. Junior Essay: One course. The student must complete a Junior Essay, which may be the culmination of a Junior Tutorial (French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish or Romance Studies 98), an independent tutorial, or a 100-level course.
  2. Tutorials (letter graded): same as Basic Requirements plus Senior Year: French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish or Romance Studies 99 (two terms) and successful completion of the thesis.

  3. Thesis: Required

  4. Senior Honors Oral Examination: Required.

  5. Other information:

    1. Same as Basic Requirements

    2. Residence requirement: Honors concentrators must take a minimum of eight concentration courses in residence.

Requirements for Honors Track, Non-Thesis: 14 courses (56 credits):

  1. Required courses. same as Basic Requirements.  
    1. Two additional courses: Two courses at the 100-level or above, completed with grade of A or A-. 
  2. Tutorials (letter graded): same as Basic Requirements 

  3. Thesis: None

  4. Oral Examination: None 

  5. Other information:

    1. Same as Basic Requirements

    2. Residence requirementHonors concentrators must take a minimum of eight concentration courses in residence.

Honors eligibility: Concentrators with a minimum concentration GPA of 3.45 are eligible to participate in the honors program. 

Students who take two additional courses at the 100-level, or one additional course at the 100-level and one additional course at the 200-level, with a minimum grade of A- in each, can be recommended for a departmental degree of Honors (but not High or Highest Honors). Students who take two additional courses at the 200-level with a minimum grade of A- in each can be recommended for a departmental degree of Honors or High Honors (but not Highest Honors). To be considered for Highest Honors, students must pursue the Thesis Option.

Joint Concentration: Romance Languages and Literatures as primary field: 8 courses (32 credits)

  1. Required Courses:
    1. Language and Culture courses: One course at the 40, 50, or 60 level. See notes in Basic requirements for information about placement and substitution.
    2. Literature, Film, and Culture and Society: One course in introductory field survey at the 70 level.
    3. Sophomore Tutorial: Romance Studies 97.
    4. Three courses taught in Romance Languages and Literatures at the 70 level or above.  At least one of these must be a Junior Tutorial 98 or 100-level course, with the submission of a Junior Essay.
  2. Tutorials
    1. Sophomore Year: French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish or Romance Studies 97.  See item 1.c above.
    2. Junior Year:  French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish or Romance Studies 98 or a specified 100-level course. See item 1.d above
    3. Senior Year: French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish or Romance Studies 99 (two terms) and successful completion of the thesis.
  3. Thesis: Required.
  4. Senior Honors Oral Examination: Required.
  5. Other Information: Course substitutions as approved by the DUS

Joint Concentration: Romance Languages and Literatures as allied field: 6 courses (24 credits)

  1. Required Courses:
    1. Language and Culture courses: One course at the 40, 50, or 60 level. See notes in Basic requirements for information about placement and substitution.
    2. Literature, Film, and Culture and Society: One course in introductory field survey at the 70 level.
    3. Sophomore Tutorial: Romance Studies 97.
    4. Three courses taught in Romance Languages and Literatures at the 70 level or above.  
  2. Tutorials
    1. Sophomore Year:  Romance Studies 97.  See item 1.c above.
  3. Thesis: Required

  4. Oral Examination: None.
  5. Other Information: Course substitutions as approved by the DUS.

ADVISING

Close consultation with faculty is essential for planning and completing a rich and successful concentration in RLL.  Concentrators are invited to meet regularly with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, the Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies,  Advisers in each Special Field, and the Undergraduate Coordinator.

Director of Undergraduate Studies  Dr. Kathy Richman, Boylston 422, 617-495-1929, richman@fas.harvard.edu

Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies  Dr. Elvira G. Di Fabio, Boylston 435, 617-495-5478, edifabio@fas.harvard.edu

Special Field Advisers for 2016-2017:

French and Francophone Studies
   Dr. Sylvaine Guyot, Boylston 328, 617-495-4250, guyot@fas.harvard.edu

Italian StudiesDr. Elvira G. Di Fabio, Boylston 321,617-495-5478, edifabio@fas.harvard.edu

Spanish, Latin American and Latino Studies
María Luisa Parra, Boylston 326
617-495-1868, parra@fas.harvard.edu

Portuguese and Brazilian Studies
  Dr. Viviane Gontijo, Boylston 416, 617-495-8476, vivianegontijo@fas.harvard.edu

Romance Studies    Dr. Kathy Richman, Boylston 422, 617-495-1929, richman@fas.harvard.edu

RESOURCES FOR RESEARCH AND INTERNSHIPS

The combined holdings of Widener, Lamont, and Houghton libraries constitute one of the major collections of Romance literatures in the world. Other important resources available to RLL concentrators include research and internship opportunities at the Harvard Art Museums; the Harvard Film Archive; the Center for European Studies; the Lauro de Bosis Committee; Villa i Tatti: The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies; the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies; the Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard; the Office of Career Services; the Office of International Education; and numerous other centers.  RLL concentrators are encouraged to consult the Research Guide for Concentrators posted on the Department’s website.

RLL concentrators are encouraged to consult the Research Guide for Concentrators posted on the Department’s website. 

HOW TO FIND OUT MORE

The Department's offices are located on the fourth floor of Boylston Hall.  Faculty offices may be found on the third, fourth and fifth floors of Boylston.

General Information and Support:

Contact Cathy Downey, Undergraduate Program Coordinator, Boylston 405
, 617-495-1860, cdowney@fas.harvard.edu

 

ENROLLMENT STATISTICS
Number of Concentrators as of December

Concentrators20082009201020112012201320142015
Romance Languages and Literatures4346485146342416
Romance Languages and Literatures + another field20112213
Another field + Romance Languages and Literatures42674342