Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The Department of Romance Languages and Literatures is committed to creating and maintaining an inclusive, safe, and healthy environment for every individual in our community. We believe that all aspects of a person's identity should be valued and respected and we emphasize the importance of cultivating and respecting human singularities, both in the classroom and beyond.

The members of our Department are actively taking the following steps to address the intersectionality of discrimination based on language background, race, ethnicity, gender identity, religious or spiritual beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, age, immigration status, and economic background, among other factors.

We are:

  1. Elaborating a statement to recognize and support a diverse community in RLL;
  2. Identifying present limitations and perceived barriers to inclusivity in the foreign-language and culture teaching/learning context;
  3. Collectively sharing a list of best teaching practices, such as incorporating options for students to choose non-binary pronouns in the RLL courses they take; or adding inclusion techniques for neurodiverse classrooms, among others;
  4. Designing workshops and discussion events to evaluate how RLL can further implement inclusivity in the classroom;
  5. Recommending that curricula are designed to respect all students’ identities and that instructors lead meaningful discussions surrounding the evolving impact of diversity in language and culture.

Related campus organizations and resources

Committee Members

Relevant Courses

The following list includes some of the more commonly-taught courses with connections to DEI-related themes in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. It is not meant to be exhaustive, nor are these courses offered every semester. Rather, the list is intended to help students familiarize themselves with the kinds of courses we teach. Please contact committee members or listed instructors for more information.
 

Italian

ROIT 20202 Intermediate Italian II

Instructor: Kathleen Boyle

ROIT 20202 is a fourth-semester Italian course that is designed to develop written and oral communication skills and to prepare students for upper-level courses in the Italian department. Throughout the semester, students will work towards obtaining linguistic fluency while exploring Italian culture through the films of some contemporary well-known directors. Each film will be presented in its historical and cultural context, which will provide us with the starting point of our class discussions. Cultural readings and literary excerpts drawing upon the themes of each unit and the themes presented in the films will be provided to supplement our discussion of the film.

ROIT 20650 From the "Sea in the Middle": Medieval Mediterranean’s Stories

Instructor: N. Esposito

In the intricate and interconnected society of the Late Middle Ages in the Mediterranean Basin (12th-15th Centuries), the short story emerged as a dominant literary genre, transcending cultural and geographic boundaries. The Mediterranean’s bustling commercial networks served as a conduit for stories, knowledge, and people, bridging distant shores. During this era, Italians held sway as the Mediterranean’s foremost commercial and naval power, a dominance reflected in the multitude of short story collections written from the 12th to the 14th Centuries. Figures like Giovanni Boccaccio, Franco Sacchetti, and Giovanni Sercambi skillfully portrayed the sociological, geographical, historical, and psychological intricacies of this cultural crossroads. The short story explored diverse themes, including courtly love, the Crusades, the interplay of the three Monotheistic Religions, class struggles, varied perspectives on women’s roles from Spain to the Arabic domains, and encounters between different cultures. This genre provided a window into the era’s multifaceted facets. This course aims to delve into the historical tapestry of the multiethnic and multicultural Italian peninsula during the Late Middle Ages. Through Italian short stories, we will explore its cultures, geography, and traditions, gaining insights into this captivating period.

ROIT 30721 Modern Italian Literature and Culture

Instructor: C. Leavitt

Renowned for its rich past but full of contradictions that persist to the present day, Italy has one of the most fascinating histories and abundant cultures in the modern world. This course provides a unique perspective onto Italian modernity by exploring the wealth of Italy's modern and contemporary cultural production. We will focus on key issues that unveil the unique "spirit" of modern Italy, such as the weight of the past, the tension between political realism and idealism, the recurrence of social and political crises, immigration, revolution, and youth culture. We will investigate how issues of gender, class, race, identity, and faith have shaped Italian literature, film, and theatre in the modern age. Through the study of texts, films, and other media, the course seeks to understand the development of modern Italy and its future trajectory. Authors studied will include Dario Fo, Natalia Ginzburg, Eugenio Montale, Elsa Morante, Anna Maria Ortese, Luigi Pirandello, Igiaba Scego, and Elio Vittorini. This course is taught in Italian and satisfies the Ways of Knowing requirements for Advanced Language and Culture as well as Fine Arts and Literature.

ROIT 40370 Modernist Italy: Decadence, Avant-Garde, and the Crisis of the Self

Instructor: S. Boezio

The passage from the nineteenth to the twentieth century was a period of great hope but also of great anxiety all over Europe. While nobody could predict the coming of the First World War that would shortly engulf the continent, pre-apocalyptic restlessness dominated public discourse and culture, especially in the young nation of Italy. Modernity delivered many and promised ever greater improvements in living conditions, but it also laid bare its contradictions: social inequalities, political conflict and polarization, and the abyss of existential emptiness and angst, which afflicted so many and so much. From poetry to fiction, from theater to visual arts, we will study how the great Italian authors of this period like Nobel Prize winner Luigi Pirandello, Gabriele d’Annunzio, Giovanni Pascoli, Antonio Fogazzaro, Italo Svevo, Guido Gozzano, Federigo Tozzi, Filippo T. Marinetti and the Italian Futurists defined and bore witness to the transformations of the modern era. Some prospected a societal collapse and yearned for a rebirth accelerated by avant-garde aesthetics, while others indulged in the decadent beauty of an impending end. Some engaged in a melancholic longing for the past, while for others, progress could happen only through its annihilation. For those who escaped into individualistic introspection, the crisis of the self could be a psychological journey through torment or a template for personal and spiritual actualization. The contradictions of Italian literary Modernism cemented Italy as a uniquely rich culture, that fused a millennial historical tradition with a constant tension towards self-transformation and innovation: moving forward while looking backward. We will explore these tensions, which live on to this day: progressivism with reactionism, nationalism with cosmopolitanism, regionalism with immigration, capitalism with socialism, pacifism with warmongering, religion with secularization and existentialism, to see why the turn of the century left an indelible mark on the Italian culture for the centuries to come. Taught in Italian; counts as Lit-Course course. Preferred prerequisite: ROIT 20202 or 20215 equivalent. LANG - College Language Req; LIT - Univ. Req. Literature; MESE - European Studies Course.

ROIT 63780 After the Flood: Postwar Italy

Instructor: C. Leavitt

This class explores the discourses of recovery, reconstruction, and redemption in postwar Italian culture. Through the analysis of Italian literature, cinema, theatre, and art, we will consider issues including the Allied occupation, the return of prisoners of war and survivors of the Holocaust, the Resistance and its mythology, and the continuity of conflict after the war. The questions we will investigate include: How do you rebuild a country? How do you remake a culture, an identity, a society? What is the role of art in a moment of public reckoning and national reconstruction?

French

ROFR 30605 Images of the Priest in French Culture

Instructor: Fr. G. Haake

From country pastor to cathedral villain, from merciful bishop to weaselly lecher, the image of the Roman Catholic priest in French culture is nothing if not versatile. But what purpose does that versatility serve? Is the image of the priest simply all things to all people as a matter of utility, an easy target - for good or for ill - that provides to authors, artists, or directors a shortcut to a good laugh or to a character that their audience will love to hate? This course will explore the image of the priest in France from the Middle Ages to the present day in its varied manifestations in literature, film, and art. We will examine what the broad spectrum of representations reveals about the state of the French Church at any given moment in history, about the theology of the priesthood, or about clericalism and anticlericalism in a political or social context. In a moment when the meaning of the priesthood in the Catholic Church and beyond continues to be contested, a study of the French context will yield a deeper understanding of the priest and his role as an embodiment of the Church and its authority. Taught in English, with course materials available both in English and the original French.

ROFR 40940 Prizes, Publishers, Plagiarism: Decolonizing Literary Legacies in French

Instructor: A. Rice

This course focuses on literary works in French that have received illustrious prizes, from the Nobel Prize to the Prix Goncourt, and it examines questions related to the prestige of publishing houses and the role of marketing techniques meant to package and sell books alongside questions of influence and imitation, and of possible accusations of plagiarism. The course’s tripartite emphasis on the ways in which authors and their textual creations are celebrated, circulated, and questioned is complemented by an analysis of how these award-winning attempts to decolonize literature in French constitute a contemporary quest with profound historical and intertextual resonances. We read literary works of a great variety, including novels by Nobel prizewinning authors Annie Ernaux (the first Frenchwoman ever to win this award in 2022) and Jean-Marie Le Clézio, Goncourt prizewinning authors Mohamed Mbougar Sarr (the first Sub-Saharan African to win this award in 2021) and Leïla Slimani, as well as works by other writers who are caught up in telling striking stories that involve intersecting understandings of the complexities of race, class, and gender that have too often been missing from the literary landscape in French.

Portuguese

ROPO 30816 - Women’s Voices in Luso-Afro-Brazilian Literature

Instructor: A. Fauri

This course is an introduction to contemporary literature written by women in Portugal, Brazil, and Lusophone Africa. We will start by asking the question “What is women’s literature?” and throughout the course we will discuss a variety of literary genres that will aid in our discussions about the portrayal of women’s lives, aspirations, and concerns in literature. We will examine the formal structure of crônicas, short stories, novels, and poetry and will evaluate how women from different cultures portray their role as individuals as well as in family and society. The course will also examine how their fictional works voice similar or differing concerns depending on the writers’ race, class, landscape, and origin. Some of the writers we will study include Natália Correia, Maria Judite de Carvalho, Clarice Lispector, Conceição Evaristo, Cíntia Moscovich, Lídia Jorge, and Paulina Chiziane. Taught in Portuguese.

ROPO 40551 - Introduction to Film Analysis through Brazilian Cinema

Instructor: M. Bahia

Students will be able to improve their argumentative and analytical skills through the study of key issues and concepts in film studies. Film form and narrative, gender, class, stereotypes, the film auteur, cultural industry, violence and social denunciation will be some of the topics explored with relevant Brazilian case studies. Special emphasis will be given to the retomada -the rebirth of Brazilian cinema from the mid 1990s on - with in-depth analyses of feature films such as Carlota Joaquina (Carla Camurati, 1995), Central do Brasil (Walter Salles, 1998), CIdade de Deus (Fernando Meirelles, 2002) and Tropa de Elite (José Padilha, 2007); documentary movies such as Edifício Master (Eduardo Coutinho, 2002) and Santiago (João Moreira Salles, 2007) , as well as short movies such as Recife Frio (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2009) and Eu não Quero Voltar Sozinho (Daniel Ribeiro, 2010). Taught in English.

Spanish

LLRO 13186: Banned US Latix Literature

Instructor: M. Moreno

The 2010 ban of the Mexican-American Studies program in the Tucson Unified School District (AZ) provoked a national debate regarding the importance of ethnic studies in our nation’s schools. From Shakespeare’s The Tempest to Drown by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz, the list of books “removed” from classrooms revealed that what was—and continues to be—at stake is more than just the future of Mexican-American studies. In this course, we will begin by examining HB 2281, the law that terminated the MAS program. We will read and discuss a number of the canonical US Latina/o/x literary works that were banned, as well as works that have been banned in other contexts. Students will engage with literary works by Latina/o/xs from various backgrounds, including Mexican American, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban, Peruvian, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan. The course has an optional community-engaged learning (CEL) component that entails tutoring at the local organization La Casa de Amistad once a week for 2 hours. Tutoring/mentoring at La Casa will provide an opportunity for students to deepen their understanding of the issues studied in class in a "real world" context while also fostering stronger ties between Notre Dame and the South Bend community. This course offers a great opportunity for students to learn about Latina/o/x cultural production in the US. Knowledge of Spanish is not necessary. Course counts toward the Latino Studies minor and supplementary major.

ROSP 20815: CEL: Breaking Down the Barriers: Conversations Near and Far Instructor: A.Topash-Ríos

This is a fifth semester Community-Based Spanish course that bridges the language and literature sequences in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. The course is intended to develop and promote oral and written proficiency and cultural awareness. In this AI dominant era, people are increasingly lonely. In this class, we will correspond locally with elders from an assisted living facility and internationally with young people experiencing incarceration in Costa Rica. By employing the nearly lost art of letter writing (in the target language, with some in-person meetings with our local partner), our embrace of the low tech approach will yield high impact outcomes by fostering academic growth while combating the global epidemic of social isolation. This class will take you on a journey of connection as you improve your Spanish while exploring a variety of texts, reflective assignments, and community engagement.

ROSP 30201: Introduction to Latino Studies

Instructor: Alex.Chavez

This course will examine the Latino experience in the United States, including the historical, cultural, and political foundations of Latino life. We will approach these topics comparatively, thus attention will be given to the various experiences of a multiplicity of Latino groups in the United States. This course has an optional community-engaged learning component with La Casa de Amistad.

ROSP 30871: Luxury and Extraction in South American Lit.

Instructor: S. Navarrete

This course focuses on understanding literary expressions of luxury and natural resource extraction in South America. Through a reading of colonial, modern, and contemporary texts, we will explore the representation of the acquisition, manipulation, and circulation of natural resources and their derivatives within and from South America. This course will offer an opportunity to examine the relationships between the productivity of the region, the influence of the market on cultural production, and contemporary environmentalist conversations. The course also seeks to develop the skills of writing, critical analysis and teamwork to generate informed opinions that students can communicate effectively. The course is taught in Spanish.

ROSP 40775: Hispanic Caribbean Identity

Instructor: B. Heller

This course invites the students to explore the issue of identity as it is lived and thought by a number of Hispanic Caribbean thinkers and artists (essayists, playwrights, film makers, poets, and performance artists). We will pose the following questions: Is "identity" a useful concept for thinking about the culture of a nation, territory, region or community? How are the following factors used in identity politics or in the project of thinking identity: landscape and place, history (heroic history, the histories of suffering), the body, sacrifice? We will consider essays by Fernando Ortiz, Antonio Benítez Rojo and José Esteban Muñoz; poetry by Virgilio Piñera, Nicolás Guillén and Reinaldo Arenas; performances by Ana Mendieta, Carmelita Tropicana, Tania Bruguera and Carlos Martiel. All class discussions in Spanish. This course satisfies the modern Spanish-American area requirement.

ROSP 40781: Women in South America: Between Medicine and Feminism

Instructor: V. Miseres

The first waves of feminism in South America during the late 19th and early 20th century were led by many women in the medical profession. Julieta Lanteri and Sara Justo in Argentina, Ernestina Lopez in Chile, or Paulina Luisi in Uruguay, to name a few, claimed for women's rights in terms of health and hygienism. At the same time, medicine emerged as a dominant and masculinized discourse within the nation-states that sought to control women's and non-binary bodies and behaviors. In the 20th and 21st century, medical discourse was also in the center of feminist debates about motherhood, reproductive rights, obstetric violence, among others. This course will explore the connections between medicine and feminism through the life and works of women writers and activists from South America, from the late 19th to the 21st century. We will read fictions, essays, journal articles, and medical treatises from the 19th and 20th century and debate on the role of medical knowledge in the context of recent feminist movements. Theoretical readings include Donna Haraway, Michel Foucault, Teresa de Lauretis, and numerous scholarly works on feminism, the history of medicine, and gender and sexualities in South America (Salessi, Lavrin, Marino, Guy, Ben, among others).

ROSP 40893: Afrolatinidades

Instructor: M. Moreno

This course centers Blackness within latinidad. In it, students will learn about the history of Blackness in Latin America, and how that history continues to shape the experiences of AfroLatina/os in the US today. We will approach Blackness from a transhemispheric perspective, paying attention to how it is erased through the discourses of mestizaje and latinidad. We will analyze literary and cultural works by AfroLatina/os with roots in Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panamá, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Perú. This is a CBL course and students will volunteer at La Casa de Amistad once a week. Open to non-Spanish majors who are fluent in Spanish or are Spanish heritage speakers. Taught in Spanish and can count as Modern Latin-American Area requirement.

ROSP 63815: 1492-1519: The Birth of Colonial Biopolitics

Instructor: C. Jauregui

This course will explore the emergence of biopolitical thought during the first three decades of the conquest of the New World. We will focus on the Caribbean Islands and the northern coast of the Mainland. We will analyze proposals for the remedy of the demographic catastrophe and the colonial government of the population from figures as diverse as Fray Pedro de Córdoba, Fray Antón Montesinos, Juan López de Palacios Rubios and Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas. These proposals include the regulation of indigenous labor, its humanitarian and rational exploitation; policies related to nutrition and days off work; hospitals for natives; the repopulation of the islands with Spanish farm workers; the promotion of miscegenation; the creation of agrarian communities; and even the importation of African slaves and the enslavement of the Caribs. The class will reflect on the complexities and contradictions inherent in these early attempts at a biopolitical formulation of colonial government.


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