As people involved in research, our prime concern is with producing top-quality work that in one way or another questions the boundaries of the disciplines we work in and seeks to bring new materials, theories and methods into them. The research programmes in Spanish and Latin American studies are both exciting and innovative. The expertise of the staff ranges across the field (from Hispano-Arabic literature and culture to Luso-Brazilian imperial history and Native American art; from contemporary Spanish cinema and urban studies to Latin American poetry, film and museum studies), and the research published by both staff and students is also path-breaking. We particularly encourage students to engage with current debates, while at the same time providing a solid training in research methodology. There is a fortnightly seminar where we discuss readings in theory and methodologies, a student conference where students give papers, and a thesis-writing workshop. Staff and students also organise reading groups in order to explore particular areas of knowledge. We seek to create a mutually supportive environment, informed by discussion and dialogue.
Staff research areas
The School offers specialist supervision by experts who publish in their field. Key areas of research interest are: medieval literature and visual culture; early modern Spanish culture; Golden Age art; Native American cultures; Spanish American colonial art and cultural history; Spanish and Latin American fiction; Spanish and Latin American poetry; Spanish urban studies; childhood and youth studies in modern Spain; Brazilian and Portuguese visual geography; Modern Portuguese Studies, including history, politics, literature and visual art; Modern Spanish and Latin American cultural studies, including film, iconography, gender studies, urban studies, transcultural/subaltern studies, and popular culture.
Further core concerns of our work are cultural theory and the critical redefinition of modernity, from the experience of Spain, Portugal and Latin America.
Several members of the Department have been involved in the foundation and development of the Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, which has been actively engaged in redefining Latin American studies.
The Centre for Iberian and Latin American Visual Studies focuses our strong commitment to research in visual culture, in Renaissance and modern Spain and Portugal and in native, colonial and modern Latin America.
Interdisciplinary research projects are encouraged, and joint supervision can be arranged with other academic Schools at Birkbeck.
The Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies was awarded a 5* rating in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, which reflects world-class research.
The School of Languages, Linguistics and Culture has built up an excellent team of research students, who collaborate through departmental and School research seminars, and are encouraged to publish and give papers at conferences. There is a School Research Forum in Cultural Studies, which provides research training through the year and holds a lecture series given by international experts. The Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, whose International Director is Slavoj Zizek, offers masterclasses for research students, given by Zizek, Etienne Balibar, and other international specialists.
You will have access to computer workstations with email and Internet facilities. You will also be offered workshops in research skills and methodologies during your first year of study.
The Department hosts a large virtual museum of objects, artefacts and images from Brazil, Argentina and Chile (1880–1900). It is planning to enlarge and extend the collection to other geographical areas, and to photography.