Romance. Of, relating to, or being any of the languages that developed from Latin, including Italian, French, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish.

(Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)


Romance Languages. Group of related languages derived from Latin, with nearly 920 million native speakers… The Romance languages began as dialects of Vulgar Latin, which spread during the Roman occupation of Italy, the Iberian Peninsula, Gaul, and the Balkans and developed into separate languages in the 5th–9th centuries. Later, European colonial and commercial contacts spread them to the Americas, Africa, and Asia.

(Britannica Concise Encyclopedia)


At a moment when the university has recognized the necessity and fact of internationalization, Romance Studies offers an unparalleled opportunity to get to know the languages, cultures, histories, and societies of a consistent part of the population on our planet. In our Department, we strive to focus not just on being global, but also on understanding the human processes, ethical ramifications, cultural, aesthetic, and political possibilities of globalization. 

Our curriculum, from language to culture courses, explores the rich traditions of Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Italian cultures, both in their countries of origin, and in the cultures of diaspora, including Latin America, the Caribbean, Quebec, and the Chicano border. Our research thus covers, both historically and geographically, an extensive area of the planet: from Europe to Africa and South America; from the Caribbean to the Philippines; from the Mediterranean to Indochina and the Mauritius Islands. 

The cultures taught in Romance Studies are those of the earliest European and American vernaculars and of today’s global world; those of the Renaissance, and of postmodernism; of the Enlightenment, and of deconstruction; of European hegemony, and of Muslim Al-Andalus; of European colonialism, and of the de-colonial thought of Franz Fanon, Antonio Gramsci, and Amilcal Cabral. 

The courses we offer intersect with different fields and areas of interest, such as Latino, European, Mediterranean and Caribbean Studies; Visual Studies and cinema; the culture and politics of Orientalism; the history of science and its relation to the humanities, from Galileo and Descartes to Bachelard and Serres; the pedagogy of Freire and Mariategui. Our courses, in short, bring students to reflect on both historical and contemporary questions critical to continued life on the planet — a reflection that we deem essential for today’s university to promote, both for students who will continue specialized studies in the humanities, and for students who will bring their thoughtfulness and experience in their careers in management, law, government, journalism, or the natural sciences.


Department Chair

    • 12-13 Romance Studies Newsletter