The Department of Romance Languages and Literatures offers programs in French, Italian, and Spanish literatures as well as Renaissance and Early Modern Studies. These programs include the study of literary history, established and current critical methodologies, literary theory and analysis, Romance philology, the sociology of literature, literature and history, cultural studies, films, and foreign language acquisition and pedagogy. The department also regularly offers courses on Portuguese language and literature, the latter focusing on readings from the Luso-Brazilian tradition. There is a visiting professor from the University of Lisbon who teaches a literature course each year. In addition, our program offers a growing curriculum in Catalan, including a two-year language and culture program and advanced courses taught by the Joan Coromines Visiting Chair.
Holdings in Romance languages and literatures at Regenstein Library are rich and extensive.A vast collection of printed materials, manuscripts, rare books, journal holdings, databases and microfilm sets are complemented by electronic corpora of primary texts. Several of the latter are produced, in toto or in part, at the University of Chicago by ARTFL (American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language), Italian Women Writers, Opera del Vocabolario Italiano, and Montaigne Studies.
The department has developed a unique program of theoretical and practical teacher training in Romance languages and literatures. All PhD students are funded with fellowships that allow them to gain teaching experience in the undergraduate language program, first as course assistants (lectors), then as autonomous lecturers. This system allows for a high degree of professional training and competitive funding, without distracting students from their graduate studies.
Students with an MA degree from another institution generally enter the PhD program directly. Those without a master's degree take part in our one-year MA program, which is designed to familiarize students with the literary history and major works of one or more of the Romance languages, and to provide the tools for literary and cultural analysis needed to advance to the PhD program. PhD students enjoy a wide range of specialized department seminars on literature, literary theory, Romance linguistics, and bibliographic research.
Students are encouraged to expand their research and course work into other literatures, departments, and disciplines, and are provided opportunities to broaden their knowledge in a variety of ways. The department collaborates with faculty from other departments, committees, and centers at the university, such as the Department on Cinema and Media Studies, the committees on the History of Culture, Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, and Social Thought, and the centers for Gender Studies, Latin American Studies, and Race, Politics and Culture. Each language program also offers students several opportunities for study and research abroad, and the department invites distinguished scholars and writers from the United States and abroad to lecture and to teach.
The France Chicago Center—a Franco-American research institution dedicated to fostering contact among French and American students, professors, and professionals—organizes and sponsors conferences and colloquia, provides fellowships and travel grants, funds visiting faculty members from France, and organizes lectures. Professor Vincent Descombes, from the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, teaches a course every year.
The Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Modern Italian Studies enables the Italian program to invite a prominent visitor from Italy each year; past visiting professors have included Roberto Antonelli, Laura Barile, Gianpiero Brunetta and Gianni Celati.
Each year, the Edward Larocque Tinker Visiting Professorship in Latin American and Iberian Studies brings prominent scholars and other professionals to the university for research and teaching. We have brought poets, playwrights, novelists, and distinguished critics such as Luciano García Lorenzo (Spain), Jorge Edwards (Chile), Javier Lasarte (Venezuela), and Anthony Stanton (Mexico).
Students are also encouraged to participate in and coordinate graduate workshops. Some of the current workshops include: Caribbean Studies; Gender and Sexuality Studies; Latin American History; Mass Culture; Medieval Studies; Modern France; Poetry & Poetics; Renaissance; Reproduction of Race and Racial Ideologies, among others. The department features its own workshop on Western Mediterranean Culture.
Upon completion of the PhD, students have had great success in finding tenure-track positions at such institutions as Wesleyan University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Colorado, the University of Oregon, the State University of New York at Buffalo, Syracuse University, Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand), and other excellent colleges and universities.