Who We Are
With their rich literary and cultural heritage and their global reach, Romance languages play a key role in the world’s multicultural societies. That’s why the department offers its concentrators the choice of five Special Fields – French and Francophone Studies; Italian Studies; Portuguese and Brazilian Studies; Spanish, Latin American and Latino Studies; and Romance Studies. Students are encouraged to enrich their programs by engaging in study abroad, during either the summer or the academic year. RLL advisors work closely with the Office of International Education to help students meet specific needs and further their academic and cultural interests.
A set of Common Requirements for the Concentration, featuring specific courses recommended or required for each Special Field and ample room for exploration of individual interests, ensures that concentrators acquire advanced oral and written proficiency in the target language, familiarity with major periods of the Romance literatures, critical reading skills, specialized knowledge of literary and cultural figures and movements, and acquaintance with the importance of Romance cultures in related disciplines such as Anthropology, History, History of Art and Architecture, Linguistics, Music, Visual Environmental Studies, Studies in Women, Gender and Sexuality, and more. Small classes and one-on-one instruction (including faculty-taught tutorials and faculty-advised honors theses) make a space for critical thinking, individual research agendas and creativity. The department’s wide spectrum of courses is designed for students who intend to pursue careers in medicine, law, business, social work, as well as graduate study in the humanities and social sciences. RLL stands for Real Life Learning: hands-on learning in translation, creative writing, dramatic performance, even the kitchen, promote interaction with Romance speaking communities, in the U.S. and abroad.
Students are encouraged to consult with the DUS, the Special Fields Advisors about concentration, joint concentration with another department or program, secondary fields, study abroad and internship options.
Concentrators in Romance Languages and Literatures go on to a wide variety of careers in fields where world experience, flexibility in dealing with the unfamiliar, strong analytical and communicative skills, and creativity are valued. These have included business, education, finance, diplomatic service, law, medicine, public health, social work and the arts. In recent years, approximately one quarter of our concentrators have planned careers in medicine! It’s no surprise that many of our alumni have pursued careers abroad, not only in European nations but also and especially in new Romance-speaking economic powerhouses like Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.
Suggested Gateway Courses
Students entering the department should take the Harvard Placement Test or the SAT II in the language or languages they have already studied to help them find the course options best suited to their preparation and interests. In addition to an array of language and culture courses (30-60 levels), students who have achieved proficiency can choose courses in literature and culture (70, 80 and 100 levels). Freshman Seminars and Gen Ed courses are a good way to explore the department before choosing your concentration. Some of the Freshman Seminars and Gen Ed courses taught by RLL faculty in 2021-22 are:
• FRSEMR 64k – The Migrant Experience: Migration in Visual Culture
• FRSEMR 62o – Fascism Past/Present/(Future)
• FRSEMR 32m – Food for Thought: Culinary Cultures in Spain and Beyond
• HUM10a – A Humanities Colloquium
• GEN ED 1010 – Satire
Throughout the year students are cordially invited to attend department lectures, colloquia, conferences, film screenings, theatrical performances and special events such as Brazil Week and the New England Italian Film Festival.