Spanish Department

Academic Program

The Spanish department offers a balanced program leading to a major in Spanish language and literature. First- and second-year Spanish classes emphasize all aspects of Spanish, speaking as well as reading, writing, grammar, and the cultural context of the language. Both courses are conducted in Spanish. In the second year, emphasis on composition increases, and readings are drawn from a variety of genres. Primary readings in all literature courses are in the original language. The first priority in the upper-division courses is always an informed and accurate reading of each literary text, but this also implies a consideration of the artistic, historical, and cultural context of works, as well as questions of literary history and theory.

Picture of the Mosque of CordobaStudents who major in Spanish are encouraged to select courses from a variety of periods in both Peninsular and Latin American literature and to enhance their studies with appropriate course work in other areas, such as other literatures, humanities, history, art, and linguistics. They should also consult with the department to explore options for studying in a Spanish-speaking country.

For majors and non-majors alike, the Spanish House provides an additional opportunity to practice and learn Spanish in an everyday setting.


Students who have studied Spanish before coming to Reed and who wish to enroll in Spanish courses should take the Spanish placement examination given every year during orientation week.


Students majoring in other departments in the Division of Literature and Languages may fulfill the divisional requirement with any of the third- or fourth-year courses.

Major Requirements

  1. A minimum of six units of literature at the 300 and 400 level. These must include at least two courses in Peninsular Spanish literature and at least two courses in Latin American literature. At least one course in Peninsular literature and one course in Latin American literature must cover pre-20th-century texts.
  2. Competence in Spanish equivalent to Spanish 321.
  3. Junior Seminar.
  4. Senior Thesis, written in English or Spanish.

Recommended but not required:

  1. Spanish 321.
  2. French, and/or Latin, and/or another foreign language.
  3. Humanities 210 and/or 220.
  4. Latin American history.

Division of Literature and Languages requirements

In addition to fulfilling major requirements, Spanish majors also fill general college requirements and requirements for the Division of Literature and Languages. For Division requirements, students complete one unit in the arts (art, dance, music or theater) and two units of literary study in another language (200/300 level literature courses in Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Latin or Russian).

Junior Qual

The Junior Qualifying exam for Spanish majors consists of three parts: 1) a 10-12-page research paper, written in Spanish; 2) an annotated bibliography; 3) an oral exam which is conducted in Spanish and which discusses the research paper.  Students propose a topic for the research paper and present a preliminary bibliography to the department chair during the spring semester of their junior year.  The paper is due at a time agreed upon by the student and the chair (usually by the week after spring break).  After the paper has been turned in, the student and two Spanish department faculty members meet for an oral exam to discuss the methodological framework of the essay, the interpretation of the primary text(s) presented in the essay, and the annotated bibliography.