Iberian and Latin American Studies
Fall 2021 Courses
Please Note: Preliminary Schedule Only-Subject to Change
Introduction to Research and Textual Analysis
This is an introductory course on research and textual analysis. Students will examine various schools and theories of interpretation (broadly, the reading of cultural artifacts, including literary texts), familiarize themselves with research methods in our profession, and carry out a research project in the field of Hispanic literary studies. Course requirements include full engagement with weekly readings and class discussions, one 20-minute presentation, and a final research project: for MA students, a paper ready to be presented at a professional conference; and for Ph.D. students, a paper that represents a major advance towards their degree, i.e., a persuasive version of a future dissertation chapter or proposal, or a publishable article.
Writing Revolutionary Mexico
In 1910-11 peasants and bourgeois landowners rose up against the regime of Porfirio Díaz in a rebellion that would soon become known as a “revolution”. About a decade and a half later, a political class would harness that violence as Revolution, in the service of a state project, and usher in the long-standing political dominance of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional. Writers and artists were important witnesses, interpreters, and participants in the political tumult of this historical trajectory. How did they interpret that world? How are national consolidation and social heterogeneity reconciled in the literary and political discourses of the Mexican Revolution? How do literary producers represent the articulation and disarticulation of race and nation in Mexico? What is the critical function of those representational strategies? These are some of the questions that will govern our reading of a set of canonical texts that foreshadow and reflect upon the various crises of hegemony and sovereignty that accompanied the Mexican Revolution. Two historical trajectories define the course. First, we will examine the construction and critique of the normative “mestizo state” that coalesces around the Porfirio Díaz regime. Second, we will consider how the political, social and aesthetic problems identified there are reworked and reproduced in the aftermath of the Revolution. The material through which we pursue these questions and themes will be drawn almost exclusively from primary documents, mostly literary, that is, texts and visual culture produced between 1870 and 1968.
Denarrativization in Contemporary Iberian Literature
P. Aguilera Mellado
In his 1964-1965 seminar on The Question of Being and History—first published in English by the University of Chicago Press in 2016 Jacques Derrida performed a surgical reading of Heidegger’s Being and Time. In the second session of the series, Derrida mentioned that 'to liberate the question of being and history, one must stop telling stories, which is to say that one must take a step beyond ontic history.' This seminar will study this 'de-narrativization' (here understood as the abandonment of modern subjectivity and politics for infrapolitics as the register of aesthetic form) in contemporary Iberian literature. We will read novels by authors, such as Galdós, Juan Benet, Juan Goytisolo, Carmen Martin Gaite, and Ricardo Menéndez Salmón, among others. Our study will also include some minimal works of critical theory by Derrida, Nancy, Lacan, Malabou, or Jorge Alemán.
The vast majority of the readings would be literary works in Spanish, however this course will be conducted in Spanish, English, or a mixture of both, depending upon the preferences of the students who register.
From Borderlands to Hamilton: Race and Ethnicity in US Latina/o Literature
This course will examine the representation of race and ethnicity in US Latina/o literature, with an emphasis on Afro-Latina/o production. Applying a transhemispheric approach that takes into account the specific histories and sociocultural conditions of each group—Mexican-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans—this course explores the construction of transcultural racial identities in the diaspora.
Spring 2021 Courses
Please Note: Preliminary Schedule Only-Subject to Change
After pollution, frogs, stinging gnats, mosquitoes, anthrax, boils, hail, locusts, and thick darkness, there descends the infamous tenth plague, the massacre of the first-born. All are marked for death: the heir of the Pharoah, the maidservant, the captive, even the cattle in the fields. Only the Lord’s chosen nation shall be excepted. The agent of this ten-plague trajectory of mayhem is not easy to discern—sometimes translated as a “destroyer”, sometimes an “exterminating angel”—but its point is unmistakable: the patient demonstration of the sovereignty of the God of the Israelites. Plagues, as soon as they are invoked in ancient times, are lashed to culture and politics. Why? That is the question at stake in this course. This course focuses on the relation between the historical fact of periodic widespread illness (broadly conceived) and its aesthetic representation in Europe and the Americas. If the fourteenth-century “Black Plague” is remembered in the popular and historical imagination as the mother of all plagues, a highly storied and ritualized pandemic that transformed the politics, culture and identity of the West, then it would be the other half of the globe, America, whose very existence as a geopolitical formation would be founded on an even more vicious plague: the toxic cocktail of fever, nausea, and sores that, like a slow-moving apocalypse creeping along over centuries, decimated America’s indigenous inhabitants, wiping out entire civilizations, reducing some regional communities by over 90 percent. It comes as no surprise that history’s victims of European expansion—exploited through projects of resource extraction, swept up into economies of slavery—would come to imagine their fate, again and again, in the terms of plagues. How have artists told and shown this story? What are the dominant discourses that animate stories of plagues? What contradictions does this art confront, and what kind of challenges does it offer, or shrink from? This course will examine a range of materials in search for answers, including narrative literature (Bocaccio, Borges, Camus, Defoe, Exodus, McCarthy, Ma, Mandel, Manzoni, Poe, Saramago, Shelly, Thucydides, Whitehead, Wright), film (Bergman, Cazals, Cronenberg, Cuarón, Eggers, Gilliam, Guerra, Herzog, Kaufman, Kazan, Murnau, Romero), cultural history and critical theory (Diamond, Esposito, Foucault, Tuchman), and a range visual artifacts. Language of instruction: English. Student production can be in any language. Comparative work is encouraged.
Formas de hacer y deshacer al sujeto en el Barroco.
Cultura, control y transgresiones en la temprana modernidad española.
El seminario va a concentrarse en la producción cultural barroca española (siglos XVI y XVII). El objetivo de la clase es doble. En primer lugar, se ofrecerá un acercamiento crítico e innovador a una serie textual heterogénea y representativa de la producción cultural española de este período. De manera complementaria, vamos a reflexionar sobre las formas en que el discurso barroco intentó definir, clasificar y construir diferentes instancias de subjetividad. Para eso, vamos a estudiar tanto textos y géneros canónicos (poesía, prosa, teatro) como así también otros materiales diversos (manuales, biografías, procesos, tratados) que nos ayudarán a crear una imagen más nítida de esta compleja sociedad. Si por un lado los discursos dominantes establecen un marco regulatorio preciso que busca ser totalizante y al cual el cuerpo del sujeto debe adaptarse, sin embargo, en estos discursos se percibe también una clara ansiedad producto del reconocimiento del carácter parcial e imperfecto de esta misma práctica discursiva que busca fundar la identidad del sujeto. Curiosamente, las estrategias que el discurso barroco utiliza para establecer una norma única en lo que respecta al disciplinamiento del individuo, dejan ver también su naturaleza artificial e incompleta, sugiriendo ciertas fracturas discursivas donde se duda de la infalibilidad de esta propuesta en torno a la construcción del agente del poder.
Walter Benjamin and Latin America
This seminar will introduce W. Benjamin as a critic of literature, culture, and history and, particularly, it will explore in some detail what could be described as his "materialistic theology" and his critique of historicism and progress. This course is meant to offer a critical understanding of concepts such as defeat, redemption, remembrance, dialectic, image, profane illumination, rupture, weak messianic power, political acedia, tradition of the oppressed, and so on. We will also address Benjamin’s critique of historical and political contextualism and his proposal of reading history against the grain. Finally, we will survey the reception of Walter Benjamin's heterodox Marxism in Latin America, and will attempt specific case studies where Benjamin's critical and theoretical thought could be articulated to specific research projects related to Latin American cultural history.
La Cuestión de la ‘Existencia’ en la Literatura y el Cine Ibéricos Contemporáneos
P. Aguilera Mellado
Siguiendo la estela de la deconstrucción del falo-logo-centrismo blanco, Roberto Esposito afirma en Terza Persona (Tercera Persona, 2007) que: “el fracaso de los derechos humanos no debe vincularse conceptualmente a la limitada extensión de la ideología de la persona, sino precisamente a su expansión; no al hecho de que aún no hayamos entrado al completo en su régimen de sentido, sino al hecho de que nunca nos hayamos salido de éste.” El presente curso pretende dar testimonio de este agotamiento de la noción de “persona” por medio de un estudio de algunas obras fundamentales (y otras más recientes y todavía menos conocidas, si bien no por ello menos transformadoras) de la literatura y del cine ibérico recientes. En la primera parte de este seminario, leeremos novelas de autores tan fundamentales como Carmen Martin Gaite, Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio, o Enrique Vila-Matas, además de otros novelistas recientes aún no tan conocidos (como Cristina Morales, autora del fenómeno Lectura fácil, o como Ricardo Menéndez Salmón). En la segunda parte de este seminario trasladaremos nuestra discusión y destrucción de la noción de persona al mundo del cine y discutiremos películas, entre otros, de Ramón Lluis Bande, Elisa Cepedal y Tito Montero. Acompañaremos este doble estudio literario y cinematográfico de algunas obras críticas sobre escritura postsimbólica, psicoanálisis, violencia, literatura e historicidad, sujeto e historicidad, o estética e imagen, que nos acercarán a la cuestión de la existencia y nos ayudarán a tomar distancia del onmipresente lenguaje del culto a la persona y sus regurgitados predicados neoliberales tales como: identidad, agencia, empoderamiento, autonomía, resilencia, sacrificio, o éxito.
El idioma de la clase será el que nuestro primer poeta, Gonzalo de Berceo, denominó “román paladino/en la cual suele el pueblo hablar a su vecino,” es decir, el castellano. Las lecturas serán en su mayoría en español y sólo estarán en inglés cuando no haya una traducción fiable disponible.
Fall 2020 Courses
Introduction to Theory
This course will introduce the student to literary and cultural theory. Major trends will include Marxism, psychoanalysis, feminism and post-structuralism. This course is required of all first-year Ph.D. and MA students in the Spanish section. Students from across the university are welcome. Language of instruction: English.
Translating Worlds: Theory and Practice
According to George Steiner, “inside or between languages, human communication equals translation.” In this course, we will explore together what this might mean, both in theoretical terms (semiotical, political, cultural) and in its practical aspects. We will discuss in seminar fashion readings in translation theory, from Benjamin to Borges to Steiner, Chamberlain, Spivak, Robinson, and Venuti, as well as a series of literary texts and cultural objects that will allow us to consider the role of translation in processes of cultural contact and conflict. The goals of this class are to develop a thorough knowledge of translation issues and relevant theoretical approaches to them. You will also be exposed to some key moments in translation history (in the Hispanic tradition: the Toledo School of Translators, conquest and colonial translation, etc.). On the more practical side, you will engage in a variety of translation exercises and will develop a corpus of original translations by the end of the semester. Classes will be conducted in English; final projects will be designed by the student and will involve translation into the student’s first language.
Modernization and Modernity in Latin America
This research seminar focuses on the phenomenon of modernization and its characteristics in different countries of Latin America. Its main objective is to develop a series of research projects around the main issues that appear in the aesthetic and intellectual discourses of Latin American modernity: cosmopolitanism, nationalism, cultural authenticity versus European dependency, imitation and autonomy, feminisms, race, mobility and circulation of peoples and ideas, popular culture, all of which will allow us to inquire about its peripheral and uneven character. For Ph.D. students, this seminar should result in a preliminary scholarly article with enough quality to be reviewed and submitted to a peer-review publication or to be turned into a chapter of an ongoing dissertation. For MA students, it should result in a research paper ready to be presented in a professional conference. Students from across the university are welcome. Language of instruction: Spanish.
Violence, Impunity, and Human Rights in Central American and Hispanic Caribbean Literature and Film
In this course we will focus on the themes of Violence, Impunity, and Human Rights in the Literatures of Central America and the Hispanic Caribbean. For each class, students will read literary texts and related secondary readings that deal specifically with human rights issues such as torture, poverty, economic exploitation, women’s and children’s rights, racism, religious and cultural oppression, etc. Students will also be required to watch several films, all of which will be directly related to the readings and/or to the theme of Violence, Impunity, and Human Rights.
Spring 2020 Courses
Desubjectivation, Antirepresentation, Demetaphorization
On (De-)presentation: Antirepresentation, Desubjectivation, Demetaphorization. In an article from 1938 titled "The Age of the World Picture," Martin Heidegger concluded that the fundamental event of modernity is the conquest of world as picture, a process that has some pivotal consequences for the history of thought: that the world becomes picture is one and the same process whereby, in the midst of beings, man becomes subject. Ultimately, and always according to Heidegger's analysis, that world becomes picture goes hand in hand with the foreclosure of the self as hypokeimenon and subjectum (from Descartes, etc.), namely, as the assumption of the self qua substantial ground that gathers and represents everything onto itself, to such an extent that thinking itself is flooded by representation and gathering, ultimately equaling knowledge to research always at the disposal of the self. In this course, we will follow the traces of this and other gestures by Martin Heidegger in the wake of the destruction of metaphysics initiated by F. W. Nietzsche in order to challenge metaphysical grounded approaches to 'subjectivity', 'representation', as well as to 'metaphorization' as an also privilege way of literary and symbolic expression that still falls under the metaphysical understanding of the relationship between being and language, or subject and object. Our deconstructive approach will transform our comprehension of questions such as subjectivity, representation, image, historicity, nation, democracy, gender, or race. The authors of our study will be Plato, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Lacan, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Rosalind E. Krauss. This course will be conducted in English, Spanish, or a mixture of both, depending upon the preferences of the students who register.
US Latino/a Lit and Cultures
The presence of Latina/os has had an enormous impact on the U.S. socio-cultural landscape. From music to literature, film, and politics, Latinos/as are constantly reshaping and forcing us to question what it means to be "American." At the same time, US Latina/o cultural production has challenged, questioned, and revised the histories of their countries of origin, in order to provide a more nuanced reflection on the experience of migration to the U.S. This course will examine how these ideas are reflected in literary and cultural production of Latina/os of Mexican, Salvadoran, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, and Peruvian descent. Some of the authors examined include: Gloria Anzaldúa, Helena María Viramontes, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Fred Arroyo, Martín Espada, Junot Díaz, Elizabeth Acevedo, Ana Menéndez, William Archila, and Daniel Alarcón. The intersectionality between race, ethnicity, gender, transnationalism, and migration will be central to our discussions. The language of instruction is English.
Migrant, Bridge, Border, Wall: Aesthetics and Politics
This course takes up the relations between aesthetics and politics as they pertain to traffic, migrancy, and the international movement of people. Politico-philosophical categories such as freedom, containment, refugee, civilian,(in)equality, nation, hate, and hospitality will be at the center of our conversations. Our approach will be interdisciplinary and our objects of study will include recent literature, film, television, and historical research that deal with these themes in a sustained way. Possible objects of study include: novels and stories by Bola'o, Erpenbeck, Halliday, Luiselli, Ryan, Van der Vliet Oloomi, Winslow; films by Gonz'lez I'rritu, Herzog, Martel, Soderbergh; series including Fauda and Taboo; and recent scholarship from Grandin, Mac & Smith, and Mahler. Taught in English.
Beyond Theory: Literature and Feminism in Latin America
In this course, we will study feminism through women's literary and journalistic texts (essays, novels, poetry) that were fundamental in the emergence and consolidation of this social movement in Latin America. Which feminist practices and discourses have developed since the first half of the nineteenth century, when women began to gain space in the public sphere, and during the first decades of the twentieth century, when Latin America enters incipiently into the international debate on women's rights (vote, divorce, etc.)? How does artistic and literary creation contribute to feminism? How can we understand today's feminist movements by analyzing women's literature from the past two centuries? The course approaches these and other questions in the history of Latin American feminisms, from the 19th century to the present. With an interdisciplinary perspective that includes literary criticism, cultural and gender studies, history, philosophy, law, and political science, in each unit, we will analyze the development and transformation of women's rights debates in the continent. We will also study the ways in which concepts such as "body", "family", "maternity", "machismo", "patriarchy" or "eroticism" are defined within a women's literature that strives for social change and for the revision of stereotypical representations of women and their roles in society. Taught in Spanish.
Fall 2019 Courses
Introduction to Theory
This course will introduce the student to literary and cultural theory. Major trends will include Marxism, psychoanalysis, feminism, and post-structuralism. This course is required of all first-year Ph.D. and MA students in the Spanish section. Students from across the university are welcome. Language of instruction: English.
Apariencias, Cuerpos e Identidad en las Autobiografías de la Temprana Modernidad Española
El objetivo del curso es examinar el papel de las apariencias y de la representación de cuerpos en la creación de la identidad en distintivas obras autobiográficas desde el siglo XIV al XVII. Las narraciones en torno al yo abarcan tanto los relatos escritos por personas históricas (autobiografías de Leonor de Córdoba, Teresa de Cartagena y Teresa de Ávila así como las narraciones de soldados) como las autobiografías ficticias de las novelas picarescas. Las aproximaciones para la lectura de estos textos van a ser eclécticas. Además de revisar el fondo histórico-social en el que se producen, se aplicarán, entre otras, las teorías del género autobiográfico, estudios de la discapacidad, estudios culturales en torno a ropas-apariencias y teorías feministas. Se hará énfasis en ciertos temas recurrentes: escritura de mujeres, desigualdades sociales, pobreza y discriminación, concepciones del cuerpo, enfermedades y discapacidad física y mental, discursos moralistas, médicos y de soluciones del pauperismo. Lenguaje de instrucción: Español.
American Poetic Expression: Parallel Readings in Spanish American Poetry
This course takes up the question of Latin American poetry from a Lezamian perspective. Departing from Lezama Lima's monumental La expresión americana along with other theoretical texts, the class will engage a canon of Latin American poetic work that includes the Popol vuh, Sor Juana, Rodríguez, Martí, Vallejo, Neruda, Piñera, Marosa di Giorgio, and a selection of contemporary poets such as Zurita, Juan Carlos Flores and Damaris Calderón. La expresión americana is a meditation on Latin American cultural history, landscape, and identity, but it also proposes a hermeneutical method based on the capacity of images to illuminate power relations. These will be the central issues we will address in our discussions. Language of instruction: Spanish.
Latin American Colonial Studies
This research seminar has the objective of developing a series of research projects around a set of paradigmatic texts in Latin American cultural history related to the establishment of imperial sovereignty over the New World, the colonial domination and governance of indigenous populations, and the counter-colonial resistance that has challenged colonialism since the Discovery. For Ph.D. students, this seminar should result in a preliminary scholarly article with enough quality to be reviewed and submitted to a peer-review publication or to be turned into a chapter of an ongoing dissertation. For MA students, it should result in a research paper ready to be presented in a professional conference.