Vanderbilt Latino/a Studies (LATS) is a multidisciplinary program that considers the presence of Latinos/as and Hispanics as an integral part of U.S. culture and history. The program focuses on cultural production and political and socioeconomic experiences of people inculcated with the U.S. experience, self-identifying as Latinos/as and communicating primarily in English and sometimes in Spanish. The LATS major and minor examine this enduring and dynamic population that crosses and re-crosses borders constructed by geography, linguistics, class, race, and gender.
Latinos/as and Hispanics are a critical component of our expanding and growing nation, from the early nineteenth century to the present. In the contemporary period, Latinos/as and Hispanics represent significant social, economic, and political groups that contribute to the nation and concepts of the national. The curriculum includes courses that explore the Latino/a and Hispanic experience, mainly in the United States, but also as it intersects with other national and geographic boundaries across the disciplines.
The program’s mission is to study the many manifestations of Latino/a culture and identity and to sustain an ongoing conversation with traditional departments, such as Anthropology, English, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Spanish and Portuguese, Sociology, and Religious Studies, along with programs such as American Studies, Latin American Studies, African American and Diaspora Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies. The program seeks to understand the contributions of Latinas/os and how they represent a central pillar for intellectual reflection and cultural production in this nation.
Latino and Latina Studies courses draw from a range of disciplines, allowing students to work closely with faculty from multiple departments and programs. Majors take four core classes: Introduction to Latino and Latina Studies, Introduction to Spanish and Spanish American Literature, Latino-American Literature, and Latino and Latina Studies Seminar, taken in the senior year. They also choose eight elective courses, from topics such as: Afro-Hispanic Literature, Ancient Mesoamerican Civilizations, International Politics of Latin America, Environmental Inequality and Justice, and many others.
Though this is the program’s first year, students will already have opportunities to engage outside the classroom. In the fall, the program co-hosts the Latina Feminisms conference with the Department of Philosophy. Additionally, the program is planning a symposium that brings together Latino/a poets and literary critics featured in Looking Out, Looking In: An Anthology of Latino Poetry, edited by William Luis.
According to the Census Bureau, the projected Hispanic population of the U.S. on July 1, 2050 is 132.8 million, constituting nearly 30% of the nation’s overall population by that date. The face of this nation is changing. Scholarship in Latino and Latina Studies offers students a distinctive edge as they seek opportunities working with and among the growing Latino/a population. A major in Latino and Latina Studies provides an individualized and multidisciplinary undergraduate academic experience that prepares students for a dynamic and evolving job market. Whether they pursue a career in law, business, government, journalism, healthcare, social service, higher education or another field, students will benefit from a stronger understanding of the complex cultural, historical, linguistic, political, and socio-economic contexts that enrich their communities.
Faculty in the Latino and Latina Studies program include creative and dedicated experts from several departments. Many have won awards for their teaching, service, research and writing, and all offer unique perspectives and challenge students to think in new ways. The faculty is drawn from the departments of African American and Diaspora Studies, Anthropology, English, History, Human and Organizational Development, Latin American Studies, Musicology, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology, Spanish and Portuguese, and Women and Gender Studies.
Professor William Luis, Director
Professor Lorraine López, Associate Director
Marysa LaRowe, Administrative Assistant