Romance Languages and Literatures

Brief Description of Concentration

romance languages and literaturesIn the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures (RLL), undergraduates discover the literatures, cultures, and critical approaches of societies worldwide where French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Catalan are spoken. RLL offers language courses from the beginning to advanced levels, as well as opportunities for accelerated work and study abroad.  The heart of the concentration consists of courses about literature and society taught in French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.  Faculty also offer advanced courses in English on special topics that involve more than one language tradition.

Learning Objectives

Small classes, faculty-taught tutorials and faculty-advised honors theses teach students to read and think critically and creatively, as well as develop individual research questions and studies. Concentration Requirements include upper-level language courses to ensure that concentrators acquire advanced oral, written, and cultural proficiency. Courses specifically for undergraduates build on this foundation, introducing major periods in the Romance literatures or offering hands-on work in translation, creative writing, and dramatic performance.

Gateway Courses

  • The Francophone World – FRENCH 70c 
  • French Theater and Performance – FRENCH 80
  • Comic Relief: The Power of Humor in Social Fiction – FRENCH 88 
  • Poetic Revolutions in French and Francophone Poetry – FRENCH 177 
  • The Cosmos of the Divine Comedy – ITAL 138
  • Preparing the Revolution: Machiavelli, Gramsci, and the People – ITAL 165
  • Portuguese Literary Studies – PORTUG 123 
  • Pessoa’s Poetry of the Selves – PORTUG 183 
  • Golden Age Literature – SPANSH 70b 
  • Tales of Two Spains: A Survey of Spanish Modern Literature and Culture – SPANSH 70c  
  • Spanish Film from Buñuel to Almodovar – SPANSH 122 
  • Queer Latinidad: Race, Sexuality, and Culture in the U.S. States – SPANSH 178
  • Spanish for Public Health – SPANSH 61PH  


Alumni in Romance Languages and Literature go on to pursue careers in a variety of fields: international affairs, medicine, law, business, creative writing, and doctoral programs in literature.

For more information, see  To contact specific alumni, please email Cathy Downey ( 

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