As a student in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures in USC Dornsife, you can learn Spanish and Portuguese in the broader cultural contexts that surround these languages. You can also study and conduct research in Hispanic linguistics and in literature, film and other cultural practices of Latin America and Spain. These opportunities are available to you both in Los Angeles, an exciting Spanish-speaking metropolis and an ideal site for examining transcultural issues, and through travel and study abroad in places like Madrid or Santiago de Chile or São Paulo and Havana.

We believe the connections between language and culture are fundamental. Therefore, from the moment students begin studying in our Spanish or Portuguese classes, they will also be studying culture while all majors continue building language skills even in the most advanced senior seminars.

Through our courses in literature, film, and other media practices, students explore the established narratives about Spanish and Latin American cultures, including major authors, works, and schools, as well as less established texts and marginalized voices once excluded from the literary canon. They also learn about the latest developments in cultural, political, and literary theory. Our linguistics courses provide students with oral and writing competence in Spanish and an enduring intellectual understanding of language as an integral part of the human experience. In advanced language courses, students acquire the cultural and linguistic skills needed to work in such fields as medicine, business, and the law in our interconnected world.

We are a racially, ethnically, and nationally diverse department, and we aim to make LAIC a hospitable and safe place for students and instructors from different backgrounds and communities. While Spanish and Portuguese have their origins in Europe and were brought to Latin America as part of the colonial enterprise, students study fiction, or film, or food to learn to think, discuss, and write critically about culture in relation to such issues as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, decolonization, citizenship, and the environment in both Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula.  In doing so, students learn the critical importance of considering other cultures in their own linguistic and theoretical contexts and the significance of reading, writing, and critical thinking as tools to explore issues of equality and justice challenging societies around the world.

Learning Objectives

See what Spanish and Portuguese students learn.