Spanish 212: Argentine Language, Culture, and Society

3 credits. HAL.

“Argentine Language, Culture, and Society” is a course focused on the different ways in which language interacts with Buenos Aires’s cultural manifestations. Based on magazines, newspapers, websites, music, video clips, films and works of art, this class introduces students to the vast array of cultural artifacts that reflects the peculiarities of the local language. Complementing the audiovisual element, students extend their intellectual explorations to classical texts of Argentine literature. The exciting intersections between audiovisual and literary cultures allow students to gain an integral understanding of the historical themes that have progressively formed the distinctive identity of Argentina.

By learning how Argentines think, talk, read, relate to each other, and connect with popular culture on a daily basis, students gradually enhance their oral, spoken, written and aural skills in Spanish. Class sessions expose students to a myriad of linguistic variations present in the city, including the multiple Italian terms that populate the Argentine language, the slang that was developed during the massive immigration era, the pervasive use of the "voseo" (instead of the "tú" form), the tango, folklore and rock music that prevail across youth sectors of Buenos Aires society, and the influential mores of the gaucho culture (like drinking "mate") that has penetrated the city throughout the course of Argentine history.

The experience that this course entails, however, extends far beyond class instruction. Content imparted in the classroom setting is complemented with guided visits to museums, bookstores, theaters, shopping malls, tango venues, and cultural centers throughout Buenos Aires. Additional field trips allow students to gain first-hand access to the distinctive rural civilization of the Pampas (Argentine outback), as well as the way of life of islanders living in the Tigre Delta, situated in the northern outskirts of the city.

By immersing themselves in the particularities of the language in action across the city and the countryside, students develop a second nature shaped by the experiences they amass using the target language on a daily basis. Cultural explorations students conduct with faculty, program assistants, classmates, and members of their host families help language learners become familiarized with a new host of accents, ordinary and sophisticated spoken patterns, conversational strategies, as well as academic and informal writing nuances. In this way, students gain a remarkable awareness of the explicit and tacit meanings that circulate throughout the city, which exponentially increases the depth and breath of their linguistic and cultural competence in Spanish.

Learning objectives of the course are met by means of active participation in class, journal writing activities, and oral presentations.