Welcome to the Undergraduate Program in Romance Studies!
In our ever-shrinking and interconnected world, the capacity to speak, read, write and think in more than one language is vital preparation for a full life in the 21st century. Knowledge of Romance languages, literatures, and cultures is ever more essential to people who wish to participate in the internationalization of contemporary political, social, economic, and cultural life, and to those who seek to understand its history. Given Europe’s colonial histories, Romance languages are an important medium for understanding the postcolonial present of African, Caribbean and Latin American nations. Within North America, close ties between the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and the growing importance of Latino and Francophone communities make French and Spanish an integral part of our own culture. The study of Romance languages and literatures, as well as their intricate and related cultural heritages, provides a unique means for understanding emerging political and social networks in Europe, the Americas, and Africa. In addition to literary studies, courses taken in the Department of Romance Studies engage film, history, critical theory, visual culture, and philosophy in Italian, Portuguese, French, and Spanish. With this background, students are prepared for exciting international opportunities, whether they elect to undertake further specialized study in one or more of the Romance languages, literatures, and cultures following graduation, or decide instead to use their knowledge and experience to enhance their career opportunities in publishing and journalism, management and law, environmental science, social services, or medicine.
Majors are offered in French, Italian, and Spanish Studies. Please see Majors & Minors for more information.
French and Francophone Studies
Did you know that French is one of only two languages spoken on five different continents? Or that French is the first or second language in forty-nine countries or regions and is spoken by 125 million people around the world? Or that the two official languages of the Council of Europe, headquartered in France, are French and English? Or that some forty to fifty percent of English vocabulary comes from French?
Duke students interested in learning French can start studying the language at the beginning level or can continue their study of French by placing into the appropriate level when they arrive at Duke. The department sponsors two summer study abroad program (Duke in Paris and Duke in Montreal) and a semester/year study abroad program (Duke in France). Students are encouraged to plan early in order to attain an advanced level in French and to work into their study plans the possibility of studying abroad in a French-speaking country.
Did you know that in addition to Portugal and Brazil, Portuguese is spoken in seven other countries and ranks eighth among the most spoken languages in the world? Or that over 200 million people speak Portuguese throughout the world today and that Portuguese is one of the official languages of the European Union? Or that almost all the regional traits or characteristics of standard Portuguese in Portugal are present either in standard Brazilian Portuguese or in some dialect in Brazil? Or that Brazil has the tenth largest economy in the world?
Duke students interested in learning Portuguese can start studying the language at the beginning level or can continue their study of Portuguese by placing into the appropriate level when they arrive at Duke. Students are encouraged to plan early in order to attain an advanced level in Portuguese and to work into their study plans our Duke-in-Brazil study abroad summer program.
Students wishing to do work towards a major with Portuguese are encouraged to consider the Spanish Latin American and Brazilian major track
The Italian program offers two major tracks and a minor in Italian Studies, as well as a variety of courses to fulfill the Duke language requirement. The Program draws faculty from across disciplines and departments, allowing students to explore a wide range of approaches to the Italian cultural tradition from San Francesco and Caravaggio to Pasolini.
We also sponsor a series of events throughout the year that includes film screenings, dinners, and talks on topics like the problem of power in Machiavelli’s Prince.
Romance Studies courses are taught in English on topics related to French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. They may be counted toward a major as a related course only.
Spanish and Latin American Studies
Did you know that Spanish is the second world language as a vehicle of international communication and the third as an international language of politics, economics and culture? Or that about 330 million people in the world speak Spanish as their first language? Or that Spanish is the official language in 21 countries? Or that Spanish is expected to be the first language of 50% of the population of the United States within 50 years?
Duke students interested in learning Spanish can start studying the language at the beginning level or can continue their study of Spanish by placing into the appropriate level when they arrive at Duke. The department sponsors two summer study abroad programs (Duke in Spain and Duke in Barcelona) and two semester/year study abroad programs (Duke in Madrid and Duke in the Andes). Students are encouraged to plan early in order to attain an advanced level in Spanish and to work into their study plans the possibility of studying abroad in a Spanish-speaking country.