Curriculum Overview

Latin American and Latinx Studies is an interdisciplinary program that examines the cultures, histories, societies, politics, and art of Latin American countries and Latinx communities.

Students completing the minor will graduate with a broad introductory background in key themes relating to the study of Latin America. Among the disciplines contributing to the Latin American Studies minor at F&M are Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Government, History, and Spanish.

A minor in Latin American  and Latinx Studies consists of six courses:

Three courses from the five following core courses in History, Anthropology, American Studies and Government:

  • HIS 131: History of Colonial Latin America: From Contact to Revolution.
  • HIS 132: Latin American and Its People: Revolution and Modernity.
  • AMS 120: Introduction to Latinx Studies.
  • ANT 257: People and Cultures of the Andes.
  • ANT 253: Andean Archaeology.
  • GOV 327: Latin American Politics.

Three electives from the following list:

  • HIS 235: U.S.-Mexico Borderlands.
  • HIS 318: Environmental History of Latin America.
  • HIS 407: Sex and Sexuality in Latin America.
  • SPA 343: Cuentos del Rio de la Plata (requires SPA 321).
  • SPA 410: El Boom Latinoamericano (requires SPA 321).
  • SPA 412: El Exilio Hispanoamericano (requires SPA 321).
  • SPA 414: El Detective Hispano (requires SPA 321).
  • SPA 445: Latin America On Stage (requires SPA 321).
  • SPA 485: La invención de Cuba (requires SPA 321).
  • Topics Courses. Including, but not limited to:
    • HIS 375: Modern Mexico.
    • SPA 470: Cuban Culture (requires SPA 321).
    • SPA 475: Slavery and Literature in the Hispanic Caribbean (requires SPA 321).
  • Independent Study or Directed Reading

With the approval of the program coordinator, electives may also be taken through a study abroad program in Latin America. Latin American Studies courses that require SPA 321 as a prerequisite may be open to students who are not taking Spanish courses, but who are proficient at the level of SPA 321 as determined by the instructor.


A list of regularly offered courses follows. Please note the key for the following abbreviations: (A) Arts; (H) Humanities; (S) Social Sciences; (N) Natural Sciences with Laboratory; (LS) Language Studies requirement; (NW) Non-Western Cultures requirement. 

Core Courses 

AMS 120. Introduction to Latinx Studies. (S) 
This course considers key theoretical contributions that speak to the construction, expressions, and representations of Latinx identities in the US. We will take up an intersectional approach, one that emphasizes the diversity of Latinx experiences and the ways they are mediated by US and transnational understandings of race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, nationality, and class. Of particular interest is how Latinx folks articulate fraught or ambivalent relationships to the US, to larger transnational communities,and to Latinidad itself. By way of method, the course will blend interdisciplinary scholarly and theoretical readings with a range of cultural texts that will allow us to deepen, extend, or complicate our understanding of Latinidad. 

ANT 253. Andean Archaeology. (NW) (S) (WP)
This course explores the cultural diversity of the central Andes of South America from the original arrival of migrants over 12,000 years ago to contact with Spanish conquistadors in the early 16th century. Geographically, the course will focus on prehistoric cultures that occupied the modern countries of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Themes include: debates about the initial migration to the region, early food production, the origins of social complexity, ceremonialism, state formation and disintegration, and conquest by Spain. Prerequisites: ANT100, or ANT102 or permission of instructor.    

ANT 257. People and Cultures of the Andes. (NW) (S) (WP)
This course focuses on the mountainous Andean region of South America and provides an overview of Andean society from AD 1500 to present. We will examine the colonial matrix in which Iberian and Andean social, political, and cultural forms came together. This course uses ethnographies, contact period chronicles, indigenous narratives, novels, testimonials, and film about contemporary Andean society to address issues of colonialism, race, class, ethnicity, gender, and human-environment relationships. Geographically, this course focuses on the region encompassed by the modern nations of Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Prerequisite: ANT 100, ANT 102, or permission of the instructor.    

GOV 327. Latin American Politics. (NW) (S) (WP)
This course introduces students to Latin American government and politics. The course provides a brief overview of the region’s history and a discussion of some of the key issues shaping the region’s politics, including: authoritarianism and democracy; development and dependency; and revolution. The rest of the course will be dedicated to a survey of the politics of several countries from different areas of Latin America.

HIS 131. History of Colonial Latin America: From Contact to Revolution (NW) (S) 
Survey of Latin America from pre-Conquest times to the present. Begins with historical backgrounds of indigenous societies as well as Spain, Portugal, and Africa before 1492, followed by an examination of the conquest and colonial period through independence. The course focuses on the contributions of these major cultural groups in the formation of colonial Latin American society and culture.

HIS 132. Latin America and Its People: Revolution and Modernity (NW) (S)
Focuses on comparative history and political economy, U.S.-Latin American relations, and cultural forces. The course introduces students to the major trends, problems, and forces that have shaped current-day Latin American societies since the late colonial period. A focus on case studies is complemented by an examination of broad patterns of change in Latin America as a whole. 

Elective Courses 

ENE 244. Indigenous Environmental Justice. (NW) (S)
Examination of the way indigenous identity, human rights, and development intersect with the struggle for environmental justice around the world. Analysis of how each term in this course's title is open to legal fixing, activist redefinition, and diverse projects that render the environment something political. Considers distinct case studies drawn from several continents to show that some see being indigenous today as politically potent, while others take this category to be excessively vague or, even, invented; by focusing on ordinary lives and extraordinary struggles, we explore the wide variety of relationships to territory that "indigenous" encapsulates. Same as STS244.

HIS 235. U.S.-Mexico Borderlands. (NW)
This course introduces students to the history of the present-day U.S.-Mexico border region. Although much of the course focuses on the past 150 years, we will also explore how early indigenous peoples lived in the region and interacted with the environment, and examine the legacy of colonialism in the region prior to the U.S.-Mexico War.  Same as AMS 235. 

HIS 318. Environmental History of Latin America. (NW) (S)
This course will examine the intersections of human history and culture with environmental change in Latin America from the early colonial period to the present. The major themes include the consequences and significance of the Columbian Exchange, the roles of religion and culture in shaping human relationships with nature, the development of export-led agriculture, urbanization, and the emergence of diverse environmental movements within Latin America. We will explore the origins of major environmental problems and the ways people have responded to these challenges. The course will also address how historian have approached the study of the environment. Same as ENE 318.    

HIS 323. Cuba and the United States: The Closest of Strangers. (S)
This course examines the long history of relations between North Americans and Cubans, two peoples separated by only 90 miles. Our topics will range from baseball to guerrilla warfare, from the Mambo to the Missile Crisis. This history includes a shared commitment to anticolonial liberation; annexationist schemes among Southern slaveholders; repeated military interventions by the United States; solidarity from the U.S. with various Cuban Revolutions, including but not limited to Fidel Castro’s; and two hundred years of cultural contact between African Americans and Afro-Cubans that has profoundly influenced U.S. culture, music, and sports. Same as AFS/AMS 323.     

HIS 407. Selected Studies in Latin American History. (NW) (S)
Readings and research in the political, economic, social, and cultural history of Latin America. Seminar topics include “Sex and Sexuality in Latin America.” Same as WGS 407.    

SPA 343. Cuentos del Río de La Plata. (H)
Argentina and Uruguay are the two countries that have produced the most renowned short story writers in Spanish. It could be said that Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar constitute the paradigm of the Hispanic short story of the second half of the 20th century and later years. Both writers have set the grounds for the development of the short story as a genre in Latin America. In this course we will explore the influence of Borges and Cortázar in later Argentine and Uruguayan writers. Prerequisite: SPA 321.    

SPA 410. Research Seminar: El Boom Latinoamericano. (H)
The Latin American Boom is a phenomenon in the history of literary movements in the 20th Century. In this course we will read some of the canonical pieces by authors that constitute the “boom.” In so doing, we will examine the characteristics of the Latin American literary boom. We will read Alejo Carpentier, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel Garcia Márquez and Mario Varas Llosa, as the four biggest representatives of this movement. Prerequisite: SPA 321.    

SPA 412. Research Seminar: El Exilio Hispanoamericano. (H)
There is a vast number of Latin Americans living mainly in several European countries, Canada, the United States, Australia and some Asian and African countries. Political turmoil of the Southern cone in the 1970s and 80s and in Central America in the 1980s and 90s, however, created generations of exiles that were political prisoners or even desaparecidos, or whose close relatives disappeared or were killed. Some of these exiles are writers who conveyed their experience in their works. In this course we will read poems, short stories, and novels written by these exiles as well as works by authors who have chosen to live abroad for other reasons. We will examine how the experience of exile shapes and is reflected in their works. Prerequisite: SPA 321.    

SPA 414. Research Seminar: El Detective Hispano. (H)
Why is detective fiction so popular? What makes so many readers or TV/film viewers want to read or watch murder or detective stories? What does the detective genre represent? How do we understand the surprise endings of detective stories? What variations have appeared (especially in Latin America) since the classic detective novel emerged? How can we understand these variations? In this seminar we will attempt to answer these questions through the analysis of detective fiction from Latin America. We will study detective novels in their specific Latin American context. Prerequisite: SPA 321.    

SPA 445. Research Seminar: Latin America on Stage. (H)
Latin America on Stage is an exploration of Latin American drama of the twentieth century, and an introduction to the experimental and newer trends in the genre. This survey course focuses on the most relevant schools, sociopolitical themes, and aesthetic practices of Latin American theater. The overall goals for the students in this course are the appreciation of the diversity of contemporary drama in the continent, as well as the development of critical skills and of oral and written modes of performance in the Spanish language. Prerequisite: SPA 321. 

Topics Courses Expected to be Offered in 2022-2023

  • AMS 378. Border and Law Policy.
  • GOV 274. Latin American Political Thought.
  • HIS 278. Reproductive Health and Justice in Mexican History.

Off-Campus Study Programs* 


  • CET Colombia: Race, Class, Identity (Cali)
  • IES Abroad, Buenos Aires: Latin American Societies and Cultures
  • IES Abroad, Santiago:  Health Studies
  • SIT Chile:  Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development
  • SIT Ecuador: Development, Politics, and Languages
  • SIT Mexico: Migration, Borders, and Transnational Communities  
  • SIT Peru:  Indigenous Peoples and Globalization


*This is only a sample of programs available to LALS students.  Reach out to F&M’s Off-Campus Study office for more options.