Heather Cleary

BA, MA, New York University. PhD, Columbia University. Special interests include contemporary Latin American culture, the theory and practice of translation, and creative production in the digital age. Essays published in Hispanic Review and Mutatis Mutandis; translations published by New Directions (Poems to Read on a Streetcar by Oliverio Girondo) and Open Letter Books (The Dark and The Planets by Sergio Chejfec). SLC 2015–

Undergraduate Courses 2021-2022

Literature

First-Year Studies: Difficult Women of the Americas

Open, FYS—Year

Difficult women go against the grain: They make noise. They make trouble. They challenge categories, preconceptions, and assigned roles and shine light where some would rather not look. Through novels, films, and essays by thinkers and artists like Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Octavia Butler, Cristina Rivera Garza, Judith Butler, Lucrecia Martel, Frida Kahlo, Sara Gómez, Margaret Atwood, and Lia Garcia La Sirena, this course will explore questions of gender, labor rights, race, borders, bodies, and environmental issues, among others. Students will learn how to analyze cultural objects and theory, to build arguments around plot elements or imagery, and to ground their analysis effectively in social and cultural contexts. The course will combine one-on-one conference work with group activities and exercises designed to introduce students to the resources available to them at the College, take advantage of New York City’s cultural offerings, and improve their writing skills through workshops.

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Spanish

Advanced Intermediate Spanish: Political Creativity

Open, Seminar—Year

This course looks at ways in which individuals and communities across the Spanish-speaking world have gotten creative about politics and political about creativity. Students will develop analytic skills and explore social-justice issues through the literature, film, music, and visual art of Miguel Ángel Asturias, Gloria Anzaldúa, Nancy Morejón, Sara Gómez, Rebecca Lane, Yásnaya E. Aguilar Gil, Lia Garcia La Sirena, and many more. We will also learn about the politically creative actions of communities and organizations working outside the structures of the nation state; an important aspect of this course will be engaging with activist efforts in real time. Students will produce both critical and creative written work. This discussion-based course will be conducted in Spanish and is intended for students who wish to further hone their communication and comprehension skills through advanced grammar review.

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Previous Courses

Spanish

Advanced Beginning Spanish: Pop Culture(s)

Open, Seminar—Year

In this class, for students who have had some experience with Spanish but are still laying the foundations of communication and comprehension, we will do a thorough review of basic grammatical, lexical, and syntactical concepts at a more accelerated pace than the regular Beginning Spanish class. Working with music, visual art, film, and newspaper articles from Latin America and Spain, students will develop the ability to navigate real-life situations and will expand their vocabulary through group exercises with a communicative focus. Weekly conversation sessions are also a fundamental part of this course.

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Advanced Spanish: Coming of Age

Advanced, Seminar—Fall

Growing up isn’t easy, but it does provide great material for creative expression and social criticism. With an eye toward topics like sexuality, physical and symbolic violence, and political activism, students will engage film and literature from Latin America and Spain both critically and creatively, as they hone their communication, analytic, and writing skills. Advanced grammar review and writing workshops will complement our work with canonical and contemporary texts by Carlos Fuentes, Lilana Heker, Roberto Bolaño, Andrés Barba, and Betina González, among others. Students will also meet in small groups with a language tutor every week.​

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Beginning Spanish: At the Movies

Open, Seminar—Year

This course will enable students without previous knowledge of Spanish to develop the skills necessary to achieve effective levels of comprehension and communication. A combination of communicative and vocabulary-building exercises will prepare students to navigate everyday situations, while Spanish-language films by directors such as Pedro Almodóvar, Icíar Bollaín, and Guillermo del Toro will provide the cultural and historical grounding for discussion and enrich classroom exercises that reinforce the skills built into each unit. Students will also begin to develop a critical vocabulary for talking about cultural objects and will write descriptive profiles, creative works, and critical pieces. Students will view the films outside the seminar meetings; group conferences will reinforce the work that we do in class, addressing individual needs and introducing additional cultural materials in the form of songs and newspaper articles. Weekly conversation sessions with a language assistant are also an integral part of the course.

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Literature and Film in Spanish: Journeys

Advanced, Seminar—Spring

This seminar examines the development of individual and collective identities and interventions in the public sphere, through the unifying theme of movement, in three interconnected units on the road narrative, migration, and the displacement of indigenous communities in Latin America. Readings include texts by Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Rigoberta Menchú and Elizabeth Burgos, Augusto Roa Bastos, and Gloria Anzaldúa; films include Y tu mamá también and La jaula de oro, as well as several short and feature-length documentaries. Through the engagement of literature, film, testimonials, and journalism, students will improve their close reading and critical writing skills, as well as their written and oral expression in Spanish.

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Literature

First-Year Studies: (Making) World Literature

Open, FYS—Year

Translation is the lifeblood of literary culture. Translation can also have extraordinary political significance, especially in historical moments when worldviews narrow, borders expand, and difference is treated as a threat. In this seminar, we will read canonical works and celebrated contemporary novels from around the world by writers—including Jorge Luis Borges, Yoko Tawada, Gustave Flaubert, Ananda Devi, Franz Kafka, Samanta Schweblin, Roberto Bolaño, Valeria Luiselli, and many more—reflecting on the literary dimensions of these texts as we also think about questions of translation, circulation, creativity, and consecration. In the process, students will not only learn how to analyze literature, identifying tone or style and building arguments around plot elements or imagery but will also develop frameworks for thinking about which texts make their way into English and how they do so. The course will combine one-on-one conference work with group activities and exercises designed to introduce students to the resources available to them on campus, take advantage of New York City’s cultural offerings, and improve their analytic and expository writing skills with workshops.

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Latin American Literature and Film: Beyond the Boom

Open, Lecture—Spring

This interactive lecture will take as its point of departure the historical context and major works of the Latin American Boom in the 1960s and ’70s, then go on to explore essential voices that were overlooked during this period, as well as contemporary writing and film. As part of our analysis of these works, we will reflect on the creative and commercial dimensions of their appearance in English translation. Readings include works by Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar, Clarice Lispector, Samanta Schweblin, Cristina Rivera Garza, Alejandro Zambra, Yuri Herrera, and Valeria Luiselli. We will also view films by Lucrecia Martel and Claudia Llosa, among others. Though this is a lecture, students will participate in group activities and class discussions. Two registration options are available. TRACK 1 (5 credits): participation in both lecture and group conference; assignments include regular reflections on the course materials, a midterm exam, and a final paper. TRACK 2 (3 credits): participation in lecture, a midterm exam, and a final paper.

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