Spanish and Portuguese

Humanities Quadrangle, 203.432.5439, 203.432.1151
M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.

Jesús Velasco (F)

Director of Graduate Studies
Aníbal González-Pérez 

Professors Santiago Acosta, Aníbal González-Pérez, K. David Jackson, Nicholas R. Jones, Noël Valis, Jesús Velasco, Lisa Voigt

Senior Lecturer II Alex Gil

Emeritus Rolena Adorno, Roberto González Echevarría

Fields of Study

The Ph.D. program in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese explores the dynamic fields of Latin American, Luso-Brazilian, Latinx, and Iberian studies in all their rich and diverse linguistic, literary, and cultural traditions, and adopting multiple intellectual approaches. The Ph.D. program encourages students to engage with related disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including African American Studies, Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Early Modern Studies, Film and Media Studies, History of Art, Medieval Studies, and Philosophy, as well as emerging multidisciplinary fields such as Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and Digital Humanities.

The department participates in a combined Ph.D. program in Spanish and Portuguese and African American Studies offered in conjunction with the Department of African American Studies and a combined Ph.D. program in Spanish and Portuguese and Early Modern Studies offered in conjunction with the Early Modern Studies Program. Ph.D. students are also encouraged to obtain certificates from programs and areas complementary to their teaching and research interests; at Yale, such certificates exist in connection with the programs in Film and Media Studies; Public Humanities; Translation Studies; and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Special Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

The department requires two years of course work, a grade of Honors in at least two of these courses each year, and a minimum grade average of High Pass. Course work consists of fourteen elective seminars (up to four outside the department); four of the fourteen seminars as auditor (no exam or paper required), inside or outside the department; and a required course, SPAN 790, Methodologies of Modern Language Teaching. Prior to the third year, students are also expected to become proficient in two languages other than English and their primary study language (either Spanish or Portuguese); these languages could be other Romance languages, Latin, or other language families pertinent to the research interests of each student. In the third year, the student is expected to pass the qualifying examination (written and oral components) and submit and receive approval of the dissertation prospectus. Upon completion of all predissertation requirements, including the dissertation prospectus, students are admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D.

Participation in the department’s teaching and pedagogy program is a degree requirement. It consists of taking the required seminar in language pedagogy, SPAN 790, in the second year and teaching four courses during the third and fourth years of study. Students will have the opportunity to teach beginning (L1–L2), advanced (L3–L4), and L5-level courses with supervision by the director of the language program, course directors, and department faculty members.

Combined Ph.D. Programs

Spanish and Portuguese and African American Studies

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese also offers, in conjunction with the Department of African American Studies, a combined Ph.D. in Spanish and Portuguese and African American Studies. For further details, see African American Studies.

Spanish and Portuguese and Early Modern Studies

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese also offers, in conjunction with the Early Modern Studies Program, a combined Ph.D. in Spanish and Portuguese and Early Modern Studies. For further details, see Early Modern Studies.

Master’s Degrees

M.Phil. See Degree Requirements under Policies and Regulations.

M.A. (en route to the Ph.D.) The M.A. en route is awarded upon the satisfactory completion of eight term courses and the language requirement (detailed above).


PORT 960a, World Cities and NarrativesKenneth David Jackson

Study of world cities and narratives that describe, belong to, or represent them. Topics range from the rise of the urban novel in European capitals to the postcolonial fictional worlds of major Portuguese, Brazilian, and Spanish American cities. Conducted in English.
M 3:30pm-5:20pm

PORT 967a, Machado de Assis: Major NovelsKenneth David Jackson

A study of the last five novels of Machado de Assis, featuring the author's world and stage of Rio de Janeiro, along with his irony and skepticism, satire, wit, narrative concision, social critiques, and encyclopedic assimilation of world literature.
T 3:30pm-5:20pm

SPAN 740a / EMST 740a, Ritual and Performance in Colonial Latin AmericaLisa Voigt

This course investigates how public rituals, ceremonies, and festivals enabled European conquest and evangelization in the Americas, as well as how Indigenous and Afro-descendent groups used ritual and performance to continue their own cultural traditions and to challenge or negotiate with colonial power. We study a range of primary sources—narrative, poetic, theatrical, and pictorial—and consider a variety of cultural practices, including performance, visual art and architecture, dress, music, and dance, in order to address issues of coloniality and transculturation in Latin America from 1492 to the eighteenth century.
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

SPAN 790b, Methodologies of Modern Language TeachingJorge Méndez-Seijas

Preparation for a teaching career through readings, lectures, classroom discussions, and presentations on current issues in foreign/second language acquisition theory and teaching methodology. Classroom techniques at all levels. In Spanish.
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

SPAN 845a / CPLT 606a / FREN 945a, Introduction to Digital Humanities I: Architectures of KnowledgeAlexander Gil Fuentes

The cultural record of humanity is undergoing a massive and epochal transformation into shared analog and digital realities. While we are vaguely familiar with the history and realities of the analog record—libraries, archives, historical artifacts—the digital cultural record remains largely unexamined and relatively mysterious to humanities scholars. In this course students are introduced to the broad field of digital humanities, theory and practice, through a stepwise exploration of the new architectures and genres of scholarly and humanistic production and reproduction in the twenty-first century. The course combines a seminar, preceded by a brief lecture, and a digital studio. Every week we move through our discussions in tandem with hands-on exercises that serve to illuminate our readings and help students gain a measure of computational proficiency useful in humanities scholarship. Students learn about the basics of plain text, file and operating systems, data structures and internet infrastructure. Students also learn to understand, produce, and evaluate a few popular genres of digital humanities, including, digital editions of literary or historical texts, collections and exhibits of primary sources and interactive maps. Finally, and perhaps the most important lesson of the term, students learn to collaborate with each other on a common research project. No prior experience is required.
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

SPAN 867a / AFAM 867a / CPLT 958a / EMST 667a / ER&M 677a, Black Iberia: Then and NowNicholas Jones

This graduate seminar examines the variety of artistic, cultural, historical, and literary representations of black Africans and their descendants—both enslaved and free—across the vast stretches of the Luso-Hispanic world and the United States. Taking a chronological frame, the course begins its study of Blackness in medieval and early modern Iberia and its colonial kingdoms. From there, we examine the status of Blackness conceptually and ideologically in Asia, the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America. Toward the end of the semester, we concentrate on black Africans by focusing on Equatorial Guinea, sub-Saharan African immigration in present-day Portugal and Spain, and the politics of Afro-Latinx culture and its identity politics in the United States. Throughout the term, we interrogate the following topics in order to guide our class discussions and readings: bondage and enslavement, fugitivity and maroonage, animal imageries and human-animal studies, geography and maps, Black Feminism and Black Queer Studies, material and visual cultures (e.g., beauty ads, clothing, cosmetics, food, Blackface performance, royal portraiture, reality TV, and music videos), the Inquisition and African diasporic religions, and dispossession and immigration. Our challenging task remains the following: to see how Blackness conceptually and experientially is subversively fluid and performative, yet deceptive and paradoxical. This course will be taught in English, with all materials available in the original (English, Portuguese, Spanish) and in English translation.
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

SPAN 901a / CPLT 904a / FILM 617a / FREN 875a / GMAN 617a, Psychoanalysis: Key Conceptual Differences between Freud and Lacan IMoira Fradinger

This is the first section of a year-long seminar (second section: CPLT 914) designed to introduce the discipline of psychoanalysis through primary sources, mainly from the Freudian and Lacanian corpuses but including late twentieth-century commentators and contemporary interdisciplinary conversations. We rigorously examine key psychoanalytic concepts that students have heard about but never had the chance to study. Students gain proficiency in what has been called “the language of psychoanalysis,” as well as tools for critical practice in disciplines such as literary criticism, political theory, film studies, gender studies, theory of ideology, psychology medical humanities, etc. We study concepts such as the unconscious, identification, the drive, repetition, the imaginary, fantasy, the symbolic, the real, and jouissance. A central goal of the seminar is to disambiguate Freud's corpus from Lacan's reinvention of it. We do not come to the “rescue” of Freud. We revisit essays that are relevant for contemporary conversations within the international psychoanalytic community. We include only a handful of materials from the Anglophone schools of psychoanalysis developed in England and the US. This section pays special attention to Freud's “three” (the ego, superego, and id) in comparison to Lacan's “three” (the imaginary, the symbolic, and the real). CPLT 914 devotes, depending on the interests expressed by the group, the last six weeks to special psychoanalytic topics such as sexuation, perversion, psychosis, anti-asylum movements, conversations between psychoanalysis and neurosciences and artificial intelligence, the current pharmacological model of mental health, and/or to specific uses of psychoanalysis in disciplines such as film theory, political philosophy, and the critique of ideology. Apart from Freud and Lacan, we will read work by Georges Canguilhem, Roman Jakobson, Victor Tausk, Émile Benveniste, Valentin Volosinov, Guy Le Gaufey, Jean Laplanche, Étienne Balibar, Roberto Esposito, Wilfred Bion, Félix Guattari, Markos Zafiropoulos, Franco Bifo Berardi, Barbara Cassin, Renata Salecl, Maurice Godelier, Alenka Zupančič, Juliet Mitchell, Jacqueline Rose, Norbert Wiener, Alan Turing, Eric Kandel, and Lera Boroditsky among others. No previous knowledge of psychoanalysis is needed. Starting out from basic questions, we study how psychoanalysis, arguably, changed the way we think of human subjectivity. Graduate students from all departments and schools on campus are welcome. The final assignment is due by the end of the spring term and need not necessarily take the form of a twenty-page paper. Taught in English. Materials can be provided to cover the linguistic range of the group.
T 7pm-8:50pm

SPAN 936a, Millennials: Twenty-First-Century Latin American NarrativeAnibal González-Pérez

This course deals with a new group of Spanish American writers whose breakout works were published early in the twenty-first century. Topics include postnationalism, the Crack and McOndo groups, autofiction, and genre fiction (noir novels, science fiction, horror). Readings of novels and short stories by Mario Bellatín, Roberto Bolaño, Yuri Herrera, Ena Lucía Portela, Guadalupe Nettel, Pedro Mairal, Luis Negrón, Francisco Font Acevedo, Alejandro Zambra, Santiago Gamboa, Fernanda Melchor, and Mariana Enríquez. In Spanish.
W 3:30pm-5:20pm

SPAN 980a, The Doctoral and Professional WorkshopAnibal González-Pérez

A yearlong workshop designed for professional development. The subject matter varies from term to term, and from year to year. Students must attend at least three complete Modules throughout the year. Graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory only; open to all students. Details and schedule are available at

SPAN 984a, Digital Humanities Practical Workshop SeriesAlexander Gil Fuentes

Every term, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and the Humanities Program offers practical workshops in the digital humanities designed for graduate students. Workshops can vary between two-hour individual offerings, to series of two or four workshops on a theme or scholarly toolset. Workshops topics may include text analysis, web scraping and data mining, digital editions and exhibits, dissertation, general academic tech, advanced scholarly (re)search techniques, interactive maps and visualizations for humanistic data, data and project management, privacy and security for scholars, copyright law for digital scholarship, cultural analytics, and more. Workshops and workshop series are also available on demand at the request of four or more graduate students. Yale College students do not earn credit for this course.

SPAN 988a, Iberian Nights WorkshopJesus Velasco

This series is inspired by the spirit of Sheherazade, Dhuoda, Christine de Pizan, Teresa de Cartagena, the pequeñas mujeres rojas, and so many others for whom the practice of literature—in many of its facets—was the matter of survival. They existed in circumstances of physical and sexual violence, of civil war, of racial discrimination, of isolation; they also lived in circumstances that cannot be properly expressed outside their own experiments with literature. Our guests write from many directions, for many audiences, for many souls: novels, reviews, the lives of afrodescendent people, dance, race, sexual violences, asylum briefs, and so many other forms of polyhedric writing that explore the limits of literature—and those of survival. They are in conversation about their work, about their thought, and, certainly, about the joys and frustrations of the literary worlds they inhabit. The thirteen nights in the series will be held from September through November. The full schedule of Iberian Nights will be posted on Canvas. Students who would like to receive credit for attending all thirteen sessions of the Iberian Nights series should enroll in this workshop. Graded SAT/UNSAT.

SPAN 990a, Independent Group Study in Digital HumanitiesAlexander Gil Fuentes

Project-based learning and teams are at the heart of Digital Humanities (DH) pedagogy. Most projects in DH are produced by teams of scholars with complimentary skills and domain expertise, and we learn best how to produce digital scholarship while we are working on tangible outcomes. This independent course of study is designed to allow students to form a team with other graduate students to pursue a research question or sets of questions in the humanities and an appropriate research output for their scholarly project. During the course of their research and digital production, student teams are guided and mentored by an instructor and other relevant professionals at the University. Besides the option for pursuing their own original scholarly project, students may also participate in projects designed by the instructor or other faculty in the Humanities.

SPAN 991a, TutorialStaff

By arrangement with faculty.