Romance Languages Major Learning Goals

The romance languages major is designed for one of two goals:

  1. The two-language major aims at the integration of language acquisition and literary and cultural study so as to provide the strongest intellectual and professional training to Hopkins undergraduates interested in comparative Occidental European studies;
  2. The three-language major is designed to strengthen language acquisition across similar languages to enable students to function in the national and transnational contexts of the speaking world. This language is primarily designed for students working in public health, international relations, or with post-colonial cultures.

Students on the three-language track will:

  • Attain solid (though not flawless) proficiency in reading, writing, understanding and speaking of the three languages
  • Gain some sensitivity to the history and sociology of the various target languages
  • Acquire basic familiarity with the techniques of cultural analysis
  • Acquire experience of the ways in which the various languages are modified by cultural and literary development
  • Be able to articulate specific connections between texts and cultural, artistic, social and political contexts.

Students on the two-language track will:

  • Recognize and understand features of a variety of genres and modes of literary production (the novel, poetic forms, short fiction, autobiography, essayistic exposition, film, digital literature, etc.)
  • Have some familiarity with rhetorical terms and the accepted vocabulary used to describe literary and cultural objects
  • Be aware of historical and ongoing debates about the nature of literature and its place in modern society
  • Be reasonably well-read in the two literatures
  • Be able to interpret and analyze any text using a variety of methods, especially close reading, linguistic analysis, theoretical analysis, historical and cultural contextualization
  • Be able to present the results of such analyses in competent written and oral arguments
  • Gain an understanding of literature and of other discursive objects in interdisciplinary and multicultural contexts
  • Develop rigorous critical thinking: be able to recognize a valid research question within the discipline, develop a valid research project, develop the appropriate research apparatus (abstract, annotated bibliography, investigation of appropriate scholarly sources and appropriate citations), be able to produce a clear and sufficient presentation based on sustained argument and be able to read and constructively discuss work produced by colleagues (this is primarily accomplished in the Senior Seminar, and is only required for students one of whose two languages is French)
  • Acquire experience of the ways in which the various languages are modified by cultural and literary development
  • Be able to articulate specific connections between texts and cultural, artistic, social and political contexts.

Students interested in the Renaissance or the Middle Ages are strongly encouraged to acquire at least reading knowledge of Latin.

Students are also highly encouraged to spend one semester at one of the JHU-approved study abroad programs either in Paris or in Strasbourg, or at the JHU program in Madrid, preferably during the spring of their junior year, both to perfect their mastery of the target language(s) and to have experience with the very different culture of European research-oriented higher education.