Spanish professors, I want you to weigh in on this proposal for curriculum revision.
We now have a 300 level introduction to literature, four 400 level surveys of which students must take two, and some other 400 level electives that are topics courses.
That is traditional and reasonable but I discern problems, based on the fact that students come in with no experience in literature of any kind, including not having parents who read to them as small children, and on the weak language skills they have. The traditional introduction to literature becomes ponderous and strange in this context, as do the surveys. Furthermore, the modern surveys have much more material to cover than they did a hundred years ago. The tradition of teaching excerpts in the early surveys has always been fragmenting and superficial, and it is moreso now that students have such weak literary backgrounds (not familiar with mythology, never read fairy tales or adventure tales, and much more).
My proposal would be to replace the five courses listed above, of which students must take three, with three required courses at the 300 level: studies in prose narrative, studies in poetry and the essay, and studies in theatre and film. Professors could teach a variety of interesting texts of their choice, and teach critical approaches. We would set aside the imperative to coverage, which we do not meet anyway, and introduce literature and the culture of reading in a much more relaxed format. Courses could be organized around themes or problems of the professor’s choice.
This proposal would also, incidentally, help heal the cumbersome Peninsular/ Spanish American split.
What do you think?
Note that the best undergraduate FL curriculum I have seen was the one in French at Berkeley when I was a child. In it, you first (after the language courses) had a set of courses like the ones I propose, and then a set of other courses, some concentrated on particular centuries, and others on different literary, linguistic, and cultural topics. No cumbersome surveys. It was a lot more seamless and a lot less disjointed than the introduction-plus-survey model other languages employed, and it developed the students better.