Spanish and Portuguese

Academic Year 2023 – 2024

General Information

359 East Pyne

Program Offerings:

  • Ph.D.

Director of Graduate Studies:

Graduate Program Administrator:


The aim of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese is to train students to become effective teachers and scholars of Spanish and/or Portuguese languages and cultures. Instruction and supervision are so arranged as to ensure that students acquire a broad understanding of the whole field of Spanish and/or Luso-Afro-Brazilian studies as well as a specialized grasp of one of its subfields, and to prepare students to develop independently as scholars.


Application deadline
January 3, 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (This deadline is for applications for enrollment beginning in fall 2024)
Program length
5 years
General Test - optional/not required

Additional departmental requirements

Sample of written work, 15-25 page essay on any literary and/or cultural topic, written in Spanish or Portuguese.

Program Offerings

Program Offering: Ph.D.

Program description

The Graduate Program of the Department is administered by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), in consultation with the Chair of the Department. These two officers are the Department's spokespersons on matters of policies and procedures as they pertain to departmental and university requirements and regulations.

Students consult regularly with the DGS concerning their intellectual interests and choices, as well as their course selection and academic performance in meetings scheduled from their first semester and throughout their graduate career. Also in keeping with our commitment to fostering communication, a meeting of all students with the Chair and DGS will be scheduled each semester. A third channel for the exchange of ideas is offered by the graduate liaison committee (GLC) composed of graduate students representatives from each year who are expected to consult with the DGS throughout the term to communicate student concerns and suggestions.

Fourth year students and up can keep their advisors/second reader/examiners format. Students in 1st, 2nd and 3rd years will now have a committee of 3 (including and advisor). Students should choose their 3rd committee member by September 30 of their 5th semester.


The department requires a total of 15 courses to be completed by students by the end of the sixth semester (only one course may be an audit). Students normally take 3 or 4 courses for the first 4 semesters of study. In the fourth or fifth semester, 1 of the courses may be audited. Courses chosen for the fifth and -eventually- sixth semesters should be particularly relevant to the projected topic of the dissertation. Students typically take 2 courses in the fifth semester and 1 course in the sixth semester, including a reading course.

Students may choose to take 2 or 3 of the 15 required courses in other departments (with an absolute maximum of 5). Thus, at least 10 of the 15 courses must be taken in the department. Of these department-based offerings, students are required to take courses in each of the five fields (Medieval/Early Modern, Colonial, Modern Latin American, Modern Peninsular, and Luso-Afro-Brazilian). One of the 15 required courses should be a course on theory (critical theory, literary theory, cultural theory), which we will make every effort to offer at least every 2 years, and which can be taken in another department.

Students specializing in Hispanic literatures and cultures are required to take at least one 500-level course taught in Portuguese, and, likewise, students focusing on Luso-Afro-Brazilian topics are expected to take at least one 500-level course taught in Spanish language.

Colloquia and Lectures
The department offers a very lively intellectual climate, with scholarly colloquia, public lectures, workshops, and related events.  Graduate student attendance of such events is strongly urged as they provide valuable insights into the scholarship being produced in the respective fields as well as opportunities to engage with leading scholars and participate in events as co-organizers, respondents and speakers.

Students are encouraged to selectively participate and present papers at professional meetings in the United States and abroad. Given the demands of the program, however, the Department advises that students favor publications in professional journals over conference papers.


Reading proficiency in a foreign language that is relevant to the student’s field of specialization is required. Since we are a Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Spanish and Portuguese are not considered foreign languages.

All language exams must be completed by the end of the fourth semester (before the General Examination), and are normally given by the Department once per semester (usually in November and April). Students may also fulfill these requirements by enrolling in an appropriate language course, approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.


Additional pre-generals requirements

Students will receive a reading list of 50 books that they must read before the general exams.

General exam

By the end of the second semester, students are expected to declare their primary field of specialization, choosing one of the five possible concentrations:

  1.     Medieval/Early Modern
  2.     Colonial
  3.     Modern Latin American
  4.     Modern Peninsular
  5.     Luso-Afro-Brazilian

The general examination consists of two parts.

Part I
This part of the exam will cover a 50-book reading list that encompasses the 5 fields. The goal of this part is to test the student’s understanding with some of the most indispensable works in each one of the five fields. 

This exam will take place at the end of April of the fourth semester of enrollment. The format of the exam will be take-home and open-book. Students will be asked to formulate responses to two questions per field over the course of three days with, at least, a day of rest in-between the examination of the respective fields. The exam will take place over the course of about three weeks.

Part II
This portion of the General Examination will be in the student’s area of specialization. It will be taken at the beginning of January in the fifth semester of enrollment.

For this second part, students will write a field statement, that is an academic essay fully addressing a relevant topic to the field in relation to his/her/their future research project. Each field statement will focus on a pressing topic or problematics, “a deep dive” within the student’s intended field of specialization. Essays are expected to encompass no less than 10,000 words (bibliography excluded).General guidelines will be provided. Essays are expected to be developed throughout the semester and will be structurally connected to the subsequent preparation of the dissertation proposal, being however a separate exercise.

As a first step in preparation for this part of the Generals, by the end of the second year the student will identify two faculty members in the field of his/her primary area of specialization from among the five fields. One of these two faculty members will be the dissertation advisor, which the student should choose no later than June of the second year. The dissertation advisor is required to be a core member of the Spanish and Portuguese Department faculty. External co-advisors will be permitted only in extraordinary cases and with the approval of the primary advisor and the DGS.

The field statement will be based on a tailor-made list devised by the student in consultation with the two faculty members. The list's final version, approved and signed by the two faculty members, must be submitted by the student to the DGS and the Graduate Administrator by August 30 of the second year.

It is expected that the list will include include at least 50 entries. The list should be divided into sections (e.g., theoretical, critical, historiographic, and/or archival sources). The number and content of the sections will depend on the field of specialization and the topic of the dissertation. All these sections will be relevant to the field statement's preparation.

Essays in each field corresponding to Part I will be read at least by one faculty expert in the field who will communicate a grade for each field to the DGS and the Graduate Administrator.

Field statements corresponding to Part II of the general examination will be read by two faculty members (likely student's committee), who should agree on a grade for each question and a global grade for the entire examination. These should be communicated to the DGS and the Graduate Administrator.

Qualifying for the M.A.

The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is normally an incidental degree awarded on the way to full Ph.D. candidacy and is earned after a student successfully completes all parts of the general examination. It may also be awarded to student who, for various reasons, leave the Ph.D. program, provided the following requirements are met:

  • Successful completion of at least 10 graduate courses with a minimum grade of B.
  • No incompletes (INCs) on the transcript.
  • Completion of a master's project (approximate length of 40 pages).  The project can be based on a previous research paper. The adviser would be the faculty member to whom the project would be submitted, and there will also be a second reader. Ideally the project should be completed before the student’s enrollment terminates. It will be accepted up to four months after termination.


Spanish students will teach during the fall semesters of their second, third, and fourth years (five to six hours of elementary or advanced language or literary instruction). Portuguese students may be asked to teach either in the fall or in the spring semester of their second, third, and fourth years, depending on departmental teaching needs.

Graduate students will be assigned to teach specific courses based on: previous course evaluations, seniority, appropriateness of field, number of incompletes, and the discretion of the professor in charge of the course. This applies to all levels of teaching, from language courses to precepts.

Students will teach during the fall semesters of their second, third, and fourth years (five to six hours of elementary or advanced language or literary instruction). This will give them time to concentrate on their graduate seminars in their first year, and will also relieve the pressure during the fourth semester, when they will be preparing for their General Examinations.

Besides language teaching, graduate students may have the opportunity to teach in precepts (discussion sections) in literature/culture courses or assist faculty with the teaching of summer study abroad courses or Global Seminars. If circumstances permit and a student’s area of study is closely aligned to a course, one may be invited by a faculty member to teach a precept, and in such unique cases the following policies will apply:

  • Graduate students invited to be preceptors for courses of 24 or more will be relieved of their language teaching for that academic year. However, the student must actually lead their own precept to receive this course “relief”; they cannot, for instance, simply grade for a professor. Princeton in Argentina/Brazil/Portugal/Spain, Princeton in Cuba, and Global Seminars taught by SPO faculty with the help of the graduate student will also allow participating graduate students language teaching relief.
  • Precepting can only count in lieu of language teaching if the course is within SPO, for a SPO professor’s course (say, located in PLAS or IHUM), for Princeton in Cuba, or for a SPO-led Global Seminar. Courses taught for other institutions cannot substitute for required teaching or precepting in SPO.
  • If a student uses summer teaching for a Global Seminar or for Princeton in Argentina/Brazil/Portugal/Spain to count as that academic year’s teaching, he or she will be compensated in the summer and will receive only the regular fellowship during the academic year.
  • If a proposed course does not achieve a minimum of 18 students in some advance of the semester’s inauguration, the precept will be eliminated and the student will be reassigned language courses when possible.
  • Every effort will be made to ensure that these opportunities are available for a maximum number of students. However, occasionally a student may serve as a preceptor on more than one occasion.

The Department may elect to provide other forms of support fulfilling the teaching requirement, e.g., languages tables, tutoring, Assistantship, in lieu of teaching when necessary.

Students on external fellowships will also be required to teach, at the Department’s discretion. All graduate student will be visited at least once a semester by the head of the course they teach.  After the visit, the head of course will meet with the student to discuss performance, offer suggestions and, if necessary, arrange for a follow-up visit. The head of course will also complete a Departmental evaluation form, which will be placed in the student's file. 

While these teaching evaluations are confidential and will not be communicated verbatim to a prospective employer, it should be remembered that teaching is an essential part of the student’s training, and the Department is usually asked to comment on the student’s teaching performance.

Post-Generals requirements


Dissertation and FPO

A draft of student’s dissertation proposal is expected to be submitted to their advisor by third week of March of the sixth semester of enrollment.

The articulation of the dissertation topic and the methodology that will be employed in its writing will be made to the faculty in May (after Dean's Date) of the third year, at the end of the sixth semester, in a 20-minute presentation. It will consist of: 1-a detailed oral presentation of the dissertation topic in the language in which the dissertation will be written, 2-an examination by the faculty on this proposal and its implications. The faculty will make suggestions to the student, either approving the proposal as it stands, or requesting revision and resubmission. (At this time, the Department may also decide to grant the student the incidental master's degree).

The student must submit a written version of the proposal double-spaced to the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) for transmission to the faculty no later than one week before the public presentation. This document must include an explanatory essay indicating what the dissertation proposes to study and why it is important to the field. In addition, it should detail a chapter-by-chapter outline of the proposed thesis and should include a substantial bibliography on the dissertation topic. The presentation should not be a mere summary of the written document—which faculty will already have read—but might explore the process of arriving at the project, methodological challenges and strategies, and analysis of some of the objects/texts/images to be analyzed in the project. The proposal may not exceed 5,000 words, not including the bibliography. The word count (no more than 5,000, excluding the bibliography) must be stated at the beginning of the proposal.

After the public presentation of the proposal, the Director of the Graduate Studies (DGS) will communicate the faculty’s comments to the student. If judged unacceptable, the proposal may be revised and resubmitted one time only after revision.

The Dissertation-Writing Workshop
In the fall of the 4th and 5th years, students writing their theses may participate in an informal series of meetings with faculty members to discuss aspects of dissertation research, writing, and structure.

The Language of the Dissertation
Students wishing to write their dissertation in Spanish or Portuguese rather than in English must obtain the prior approval of the DGS, who will consult with the dissertation director. If permission is granted, an explanatory letter from the thesis director and a formal request by the DGS will then be sent to the Dean of the Graduate School, who normally approves the request. 

Advising and Scope of the Dissertation
The dissertation committee will consist of one adviser and two additional committee members. The dissertation adviser is required to be a core member of the Spanish and Portuguese Department faculty. External co-adviser will be permitted only in extraordinary cases and with the approval of the primary advisor and the DGS.

The dissertation advisor will usually be the first examiner of the student’s General Examination.

The composition of the dissertation committee is a matter to be arranged by the student with the adviser.

Timely progress on the dissertation is a prerequisite for readmission and for financial aid. Before graduate students are hired as preceptors or research assistants by faculty members, their dissertation advisor must agree that such employment will not significantly delay completion of the dissertation.

It is assumed that the scope of the dissertation will be such as to allow for its completion in two and a half years. Both the director and the second reader will be kept up to date on the student’s progress, and will read, judge, and critique chapters as they are produced. Both the director and the second reader should approve a final first draft before the dissertation is produced in its final form.

As stated in The Graduate School Catalog, "five years following the General Examination are allowed for the completion of the dissertation". After that time, the Department is under no obligation to direct or receive a dissertation, and does so at its own discretion.

As an example, if a dissertation contained four chapters, the schedule could be the following:

Introduction, July, 3rd year;

Chapter One: by December, 4th year;
Chapter Two: by May, 4th year;
Chapter Three: by September, 5th year;
Chapter Four: by February, 5th year;
Final Version: by May, 5th year.

Final Public Oral Dissertation Defense
There are three examiners at the defense. Only one of the two readers may serve as principal examiner. The remaining two examiners are selected from among other member of the Faculty. An examiner from another institution may participate in the FPO if they fill a gap in expertise that cannot be covered by any other professor at the university. Such examiner needs to be first approved by the DGS and, then, by the Graduate School. For more information, see….

The FPO consists of the following three parts: 1- a brief (thirty-minute) presentation by the candidate of the dissertation in English, Spanish, or Portuguese; 2- an examination by the three principal examiners; and 3- questions by other faculty in attendance. The exercise usually lasts an hour and a half. The Final Public Oral is open to all members of the University community, and other graduate students are welcome to attend.


In the fall of the 4th and 5th years, students writing their theses may participate in an informal series of meetings with faculty members to discuss aspects of dissertation research, writing, and structure.


  • Chair

    • Christina H. Lee (acting)
    • Pedro Meira Monteiro
  • Director of Graduate Studies

    • Javier E. Guerrero
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies

    • Rafael Cesar (interim)
  • Professor

    • Marina S. Brownlee
    • Rubén Gallo
    • Germán Labrador Méndez
    • Christina H. Lee
    • Pedro Meira Monteiro
    • Gabriela Nouzeilles
  • Associate Professor

    • Javier E. Guerrero
    • Rachel L. Price
  • Assistant Professor

    • Natalia Castro Picón
    • Rafael Cesar
    • Nicole D. Legnani
  • Associated Faculty

    • Jeremy I. Adelman, History
    • Aisha M. Beliso-De Jesús, Effron Center Study of America
    • João Biehl, Anthropology
    • Eduardo L. Cadava, English
    • Susana Draper, Comparative Literature
    • Irene V. Small, Art and Archaeology
  • University Lecturer

    • Alberto Bruzos Moro
  • Senior Lecturer

    • Gorka Bilbao Terreros
    • Mariana Bono
    • Nicola T. Cooney
    • Adriana G. Merino
    • Dunia Catalina Méndez Vallejo
  • Lecturer

    • Anna Alsina Naudi
    • Catalina Arango
    • Nadia Cervantes Pérez
    • Maria F. Chiaramonte
    • Luis Enrique Escamilla Frias
    • Yvonne Gavela-Ramos
    • Luis Gonçalves
    • Iris I. Hauser
    • Eliana P. Hernandez Pachon
    • Anais Holgado-Lage
    • Raquel Mattson-Prieto
    • Paloma Moscardó-Vallés
    • Eduardo Negueruela Azarola
    • Eliot Raynor
    • Cesar Adrian Romero Fernandez
    • Maria A. Saiz Angulo
    • Amina B. Shabani
    • Andréa de Castro Melloni
  • Visiting Professor

    • Luis A. Fischer
    • Lilia K. Moritz Schwarcz
  • Visiting Associate Professor

    • Luis Moreno Caballud

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.

Permanent Courses

Courses listed below are graduate-level courses that have been approved by the program’s faculty as well as the Curriculum Subcommittee of the Faculty Committee on the Graduate School as permanent course offerings. Permanent courses may be offered by the department or program on an ongoing basis, depending on curricular needs, scheduling requirements, and student interest. Not listed below are undergraduate courses and one-time-only graduate courses, which may be found for a specific term through the Registrar’s website. Also not listed are graduate-level independent reading and research courses, which may be approved by the Graduate School for individual students.

ARC 594 - Topics in Architecture (also ART 584/HUM 593/MOD 504/SPA 559)

This course covers various topics related to the history and theory of architecture.

COM 542 - Feminist Poetics and Politics in the Americas (1960s to the present) (also GSS 542/LAS 512/SPA 558)

This course aims to explore different forms that the question of liberation has taken in writings by women philosophers and poets whose work helped to create cultural and political movements in the U.S. and Latin America. Starting in the 1960s, the course touches upon different philosophical concepts and poetic figures that have shaped the language of women's struggles (intersectionality, black and third world feminism, subalternity and feminist epistemologies, capitalist accumulation and "witch"-hunting, (re)transmission of knowledge).

HUM 597 - Humanistic Perspectives on History and Society (also ARC 597/LAS 597/MOD 597/SPA 557)

In this seminar we locate Spinoza and the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (1670) in the exciting currents of seventeenth-century philosophy, theology, biblical scholarship and exegesis. Resituating Spinoza in Golden Age Holland we examine the resources and relevant controversies that shaped the Tractatus, with an eye to common concerns and traditions: the legacies of humanism and Reformation in the Netherlands, for instance, the larger worlds of his friends, as well as the vibrant Jewish community in Golden Age Amsterdam and the varieties of Christian lay piety that fall broadly under the banner of "the Radical Reformation."

POR 562 - Luso-Brazilian Seminar

To suit the particular interests of the students and the instructor, an intensive study of a subject chosen from either Portuguese or Brazilian literature, such as the <I>Cancioneiros</I> and the origins of lyric poetry in Galicia and Portugal, the theater of Gil Vicente, Cam&otilde;es and <I>Os Lusiadas, </I>the fiction of E&ccedil;a de Queiroz, the poetry of Fernando Pessoa, the novel of the Brazilian Northeast, or recent trends in Brazilian poetry, culminating in the <I>concretistas</I> of S&atilde;o Paulo.

SPA 500 - Methodology of Spanish and Portuguese Language Teaching: Seminar and Practicum (also POR 500)

Practical and theoretical preparation for teachers of the Spanish and Portuguese languages.

SPA 506 - The Spanish Pacific, 1521-1815: A Survey of Primary Sources

The "Spanish Pacific" designates the geographical space Spain colonized or aspired to rule in Asia between 1521, the year Ferdinand Magellan reached the East by sailing West, and 1815, the year when the yearly galleon that linked Mexico to the Philippines stopped operating. It includes the Philippines and the Marianas - territories ruled by the Spanish Crown - but also parts of China, Japan, and other parts of Asia that Spanish officials and missionaries imagined as extensions of their American colonies. This course introduces the Spanish Pacific through the examination of a varied selection of primary sources written mainly in Spanish.

SPA 534 - Seminar in Medieval Spanish Literature

To suit the particular interests of the students and the instructor, an intensive study of special topics, such as the representation of women, changing concepts of the hero, and first-person narratives.

SPA 538 - Seminar in Golden-Age Literature (also COM 578)

To suit the particular interests of the students and the instructor, intensive study of special topics, such as the <I>Celestina, </I>the mystics, <I>Don Quixote, </I>Renaissance, and baroque.

SPA 540 - Main Currents of Spanish Thought, 1848 to the Present (also POR 573)

<I>Krausismo</I> and its countercurrents (traditionalism, neo-Catholicism, and positivism) and the doctrines emerging from the <I>Instituci&oacute;n Libre de Ense&ntilde;anza;</I> the Generation of '98 and the "problem of Spain"; and falangismo, new historicism, and post-Civil War liberalism.

SPA 543 - Seminar in Modern Spanish Literature

To suit the particular interests of the students and the instructor, an intensive study of selected special topics, such as an individual author (Gald&oacute;s, Unamuno, Lorca, and others), a literary movement (naturalism, the Generation of '98, and others), and theories of literary criticism.

SPA 547 - Narrative Prose in Latin America

Literary and extraliterary contexts of prose fiction in Latin America over the past hundred years through a study of representative writers, including Machado de Assis, Cambaceres, Borges, Onetti, Garc&iacute;a M&aacute;rquez, Felisberto Hern&aacute;ndez, Rulfo, and Cabrera Infante.

SPA 548 - Seminar in Modern Spanish-American Literature (also ART 549/LAS 548)

An intensive study of intellectuals and nationalism in Latin America and the Caribbean; the Spanish American essay from Rod&oacute; to Paz; autobiography and first-person narrative, Mart&iacute;; and the generation of 1880 in Argentina, the <I>cr&oacute;nica modernista, poes&iacute;a gauchesca.</I>

SPA 550 - Seminar in Colonial Spanish American Literature (also LAS 525)

Intensive study of topics such as Bartolom&eacute; de las Casas and the conquest of the Indies; Sor Juana In&eacute;s de la Cruz; Neoplatonism and history in El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega; <I>criollo</I> letters and culture (1690-1824); and research methods and literary criticism pertinent to colonial literary studies.

SPA 556 - Slavery, Anti-Slavery, and Post-Slavery in the Iberian Atlantic (also AAS 554/LAS 556)

This course introduces students to important texts from the immense body of scholarship on slavery, anti-slavery movements, and post-emancipation culture in the Iberian Atlantic world, focusing primarily on the "slave societies"of 19th-century Cuba and Brazil and their connections to the greater Caribbean. Grounded in historiography, the course includes literature, court documents, visual culture, studies of post-emancipation movements, theories from the black radical tradition, and films about Latin American slavery. Sub-topics include insurrections, autobiography, religion, the role of translators, conucos/provision grounds, fashion.

SPA 562 - The Cinema of Cruelty (also HUM 562/LAS 542)

Drawing on Antonin Artaud's ideas around theatre of cruelty and André Bazin's notions of auteur film and its subversive capacity, this course looks at a group of Latin American and Spanish films and directors to explore how cruelty has become a recognizable aesthetic, one with strategic relevance for Hispanic film. This seminar understands film as a text in which cruelty functions as a cinematic trope, and also reflects on spectatorship, film's ability to inflict pain and, even more, the possibility that film constitutes a modern spectacle of cruelty.

SPA 583 - Seminar in Literary Theory (also LAS 583)

An examination of the theoretical foundations of literary study, using selected literary and critical texts.