Iberian and Latin American Studies

Fall 2024 Courses

Please Note: Preliminary Schedule Only-Subject to Change

ROSP 63015​: Introduction to Theoretical Approaches to Culture: Decontainment & Posthegemony

Prof. Pedro A. Aguilera-Mellado

This course will introduce the student to critical theory as an existential decision to inquire, reading and writing. Through a collective discussion of two most fundamental novels in 21st century writing in Spanish, namely Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 and Cristina Morales’ Lectura Fácil, this seminar aims to give some language and thought to the present planetary state of turmoil and global war. Major themes of study will include historicity, temporality, force, violence, integral nation-state, globalization, hegemony and posthegemony, containment and decontainment, feminicidios, personhood and subjectivity, or writing and difference. Literary readings will include: Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 and Cristina Morales’ Lectura Fácil. Conceptual readings will include: Nietzsche, Lenin, Heidegger, Gramsci, Benjamin, Marramao, Galli, and Derrida. This course is required of all first-year Ph.D. students in the Spanish section, and it will be conducted in Spanish, English, or a mixture of both, depending upon the preferences of the students who register.

ROSP 63875​: Cuban Literature, History, and Culture from the Late Colonial Period to the Present

Prof. Thomas Anderson

This course will offer a panoramic view of Cuban literature written over the last 150 years. Through readings of short fiction, novels, poetry, theater, and essays by authors such as Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, José Martí, Nicolás Guillén, and Alejo Carpentier, we will explore various topics such as colonialism, slavery, U. S. imperialism, and the Cuban Revolution.

ROSP 63820 | HIS 83930: Race Gender Iberian Atlantic

Prof. Karen Graubart

This course serves as an introduction to the field of colonial Latin American (social, intellectual, legal) history, and a survey of new thinking around race and gender in the colonial context. It also offers an introduction to some newer methods: given that our archives are generally not organized to emphasize gender, race, and sexuality, and our documentation often occludes subaltern voices regarding these issues, how can we ask and answer fresh questions about these topics? This has been probably the most dynamic part of the field in recent decades, and so our readings will often be very recent, though I attempt to include some classic texts and contextualizations.

Spring 2024 Courses

Please Note: Preliminary Schedule Only-Subject to Change

ROSP 63235: A Comedia Every Week. Theater in Baroque Spain.

Prof. Juan Vitulli

In this seminar we will study one of the most relevant phenomena of the Spanish baroque society: the comedia. During the semester we will read one comedia per week trying to reproduce the sensory and intellectual experience of the spectators of the Spanish territory in the 17th century. We will work with a diverse and heterogeneous corpus of authors. We will read canonical comedies and other little-known ones which have contributed to shape the Spanish subjectivity of this historical period. The main objective of the class will be to reconstruct the Iberian cultural field and thus understand the importance of theater in this society. We will discuss key concepts of the baroque era, highlighting productive critical intersections with signifiers such as power, subjectivity, sovereignty, representation, race, gender, violence, rebellion, control, transgression and empire.

ROSP 63815: 1492-1519: The Birth of Colonial Biopolitics

Prof. Carlos Jáuregui

This course will explore the emergence of biopolitical thought during the first three decades of the conquest of the New World. We will focus on the Caribbean Islands and the northern coast of the Mainland. We will analyze proposals for the remedy of the demographic catastrophe and the colonial government of the population from figures as diverse as Fray Pedro de Córdoba, Fray Antón Montesinos, Juan López de Palacios Rubios and Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas. These proposals include the regulation of indigenous labor, its humanitarian and rational exploitation; policies related to nutrition and days off work; hospitals for natives; the repopulation of the islands with Spanish farm workers; the promotion of miscegenation; the creation of agrarian communities; and even the importation of African slaves and the enslavement of the Caribs. The class will reflect on the complexities and contradictions inherent in these early attempts at a biopolitical formulation of colonial government.

ROSP 63909: Modern Latin America

Prof. Jaime Pensado

This seminar introduces graduate students to the modern history of Latin America, from independence to the present. We will question the idea of “Latin America”—as a teaching category of analysis in relation to the “West” and the “Global South”—and study a selected number of themes that have shaped our understanding of the region, from liberalism and rising notions of state formation to competing interpretations of anti-imperialism, mestizaje, revolution, populism, conservatism, Catholicism, feminism, the Cold War, and neoliberalism. While an effort will be made in covering various countries in the region, the attention will be placed instead on some of the most recent scholarship on the modern history of Latin America. We will read and discuss the methodological differences in this expanding literature, question the limitations that continue to center a US-based position in the study of the region, and place our discussions in conversation with key primary documents, including manifestoes, speeches, short films, and literary texts that represent competing ideological perspectives as well as various points of view on class, gender, ethnicity, and race. Upon completion of the course, students will be well prepared to teach a Latin American history survey, map out the various methodological approaches that scholars of the region have developed over the years, explore a focused theme for their doctoral dissertation projects, and identify the foundational texts for their Ph.D. exams, not only in history, but also in Romance Languages, Literature, and other disciplines.

Fall 2023 Courses

ROSP 63730 – The Modernist Chronicle

María Rosa Olivera-Williams

The goal of this graduate seminar is to analyze Latin American literature in the cultural-historical period of the so-called "modernizing impact," which covers the last two decades of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century, and is commonly known as Modernismo. The journey will focus on the birth of the genre of the modern chronicle, a hybrid zone between literature and journalism, between information and imagination, between politics and the market. In Latin America, this complex object has brought together numerous critical perspectives that read local modernization against the backdrop of global modernity, whether as a dyschronic modernity (Ángel Rama), a disconnected modernity (Julio Ramos), a peripheral modernity (Beatriz Sarlo), a dissonant modernity (Gwen Kirkpatrick), a translinguistic modernity (Julio Ortega), or a modernity in translation (Mariano Siskind). From the discussion of these fundamental perspectives for the study of the field, specific prose texts by Rubén Darío, José Martí, Julián del Casal, Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera, Juana Borrero, Enrique Gómez Carrillo, Zoila Aurora Cáceres, María Eugenia Vaz Ferreira, Delmira Agustini and Julio Herrera y Reissig will be addressed. The chronicles of modernity will serve as a platform to reflect on current and relevant problems in literary studies, such as the representation of American cities, the crisis of modern subjectivity, the tension between the Eurocentrism of global modernity and American nationalisms, migratory processes, the phenomenon of secularization, the emergence of mass culture, the transition from the model of the "nineteenth-century literary man" to that of the "professional writer," the role of translation, and the assimilation of cultural traditions foreign to the Latin American sphere.

ROSP 63895 – Crossing Borders

Marisel Moreno

In this course we will examine how borders are established and challenged in Latina/o literature and culture. We will focus on the impact that US Empire and globalization have had on the Mexico-US border, the Caribbean, and Central America as key regions defined by mass migratory movements, and how these are represented in literature and art.

ROSP 63915 – Bodies in Socialist Contexts

Magdalena López

The emergence of Covid-19 and the ways in which the pandemic was managed brought to the fore the importance of biopolitics. Although debates on biopolitics and animality have focused mainly on capitalist societies, the ontological division between human and not human exposed in those debates also shapes dynamics of power in socialist regimes. This creates a paradox for official discourses based on emancipation from capitalism and neoliberalism. Taking as a point of departure Cuba's intervention in Angola and Venezuela, two oil-producing nations, we will examine common imaginaries in relation to the body and the flesh expressed in cinema, performance, and literature from the three countries. These works reveal, on the one hand, the state's sacrificial power over people's bodies and, on the other, examples of self-determination that defy state power without necessarily having an ideological or programmatic agenda. Understanding that discussions about biopolitics exceed disciplinary academic limits, we will use readings on history, and literary and cultural criticism to analyze the corpus.


Spring 2023 Courses

ROSP 63460 - Anthropocene

Pedro Aguilera-Mellado

This seminar aims to bear witness to the coming of the Anthropocene as the consummation of modern humanism by way of the ongoing ruination of the Earth. We will examine questions such as: primitive accumulation, humanism and posthumanism, technicity, anxiety, estrangement, and the new discontents of civilization, technocapital, rural depopulation, or accumulation by dispossession among other relevant problems in order to understand the complexity and depth of the Anthropocene and its reconfiguration of the tasks in the Humanities. Together with documentary films and works of theory, we will study the following novels of Iberian Studies, namely: Jesus Carrasco’s La Tierra que Pisamos (2014); Pilar Adon’s Las Efimeras (2015); Sara Mesa’s Un Amor (2020), and Munir Hachemi’s Cosas Vivas (2020). Ultimately will discuss how writing can or cannot bear witness to the Anthropocene as our present epoch without horizon as such. The majority of the readings would be literary works in Spanish, however this
course will be conducted in English, Spanish, or a mixture of both, depending upon the preferences of the students who register.

ROSP 63722 -  American Poetic Expression

Ben Heller

This course invites you to engage in a parallel reading of poetry by a variety of Latin American poets--canonical and otherwise--alongside the five essays of La expresión americana, José Lezama Lima's most important intervention in the Americanist tradition of identity inquiry. These essays formulate a philosophy of creative interpretation, map out a particular history of Latin American cultural evolution, and provide important readings of key texts in the Latin American tradition. We will consider the artists and artistic creations (paintings, facades of churches, statues, etc.) and read most of the poems and poets Lezama mentions, from Indigenous communities in the era before European contact and in the colonial period, to Sor Juana, to Martí and up through the poets of the historical Avant Garde. In the second half of the course, we go beyond the time covered by the essays to sample more contemporary poets, including selected Latinx poets working now. As we delve into these cultural objects and poems, we will read about and practice close reading, in an effort to develop competency in this fundamental building block of literary and cultural criticism. We will also think through the Americanist identity project. While we seek to understand it on its own terms, in its historical embeddedness, we will also ask whether it makes sense in the present to continue to speak about identities as we have in the past (national, regional, continental)? If not "identity" or "identities" then what?

ROSP 63950 - Archives

Vanesa Miseres

Archives are at the center of many Latin American aesthetic expressions as well as in our practices within literary and cultural studies. Archives are not only a repository of texts and objects or a place where to find evidence or sources, but also a space where abstract concepts meet materialities, subjects, and institutions bringing renewed perspectives on history, literature, and culture. What do we do with and at the archives? As the title suggests, this course will focus on the theme of the archive in three different but intertwined phases. We will explore concepts of archive and the so-called archival turn with texts by Jacques Derrida, Walter Benjamin, Arlette Farge, Natalie Zemon-Davis, Lila Caimari among others. We will confront readings of the archive with the study of materials such as periodicals, photography, memoirs, scrapbooks, letters, literature as archive, collections, dissidences archival projects from Latin America (although not exclusively). The final part of the course will take the shape of a workshop, in which students will select and work on a particular archival case in which they will explore, individual and collectively, the challenges and opportunities of their objects (gender and the archives, gaps and silences, institutional archives, archives and race, etc.). We will count with the participation of archivists and invited scholars during the semester. Readings will be in English and Spanish and discussions conducted mainly in Spanish.


Fall 2022 Courses

Introduction to Critical Theory

P. Aguilera-Mellado

This course will introduce the student to literary and critical theory. Major trends and topics of study will include: Cultural Studies, Marxism, psychoanalysis, post-structuralism, feminism, Queer Studies, theory of history, visual theory, race theory, and ecocriticism. Language of instruction: English.

Don Quijote

J. Vitulli

This seminar will offer an interdisciplinary examination of the literature and culture of Baroque Spain through the looking glass of Cervantes´s masterpiece Don Quijote (1605-1615). During the semester we will study, read, and carefully analyze the Cervantine text from different theoretical, cultural, and historical perspectives. As a starting point, I propose that we work with the concept of archaeological imagination as developed by Victor Plahte Tschudi (2016) but as a motif to investigate the different ways in which the reading practice is (re)presented in the text. We will also pay special attention to the critical tradition of the novel and its role in the development of narrative fiction.

Empire, Revolution, and the Quest for National Identity in the Hispanic Caribbean

T. Anderson

In this course we will explore, through readings of literary, political, and historical texts, how the imperialistic ambitions of the United States in the Hispanic Caribbean from the late 19th-through the 20th century fueled social, political, and cultural revolutions and promoted impassioned quests for national identity.  Works by the following authors will be studied:  Alejo Carpentier, Rosario Ferré, Gabriel García Márquez, Nicolás Guillén, José Martí, Pedro Mir, Nancy Morejón, Luis Palés Matos, Julia de Burgos and others. Taught in Spanish.


Spring 2022 Courses

Work and its Vicissitudes

J. Lund

Work is at stake today.  Over the coming decade, millions of units of commodified work (what we call “jobs”) will disappear through the combined forces of automation and artificial intelligence.  This is likely to produce a civilizational shift: there will be many, many more people than there will be jobs.  Contemporary politics have been transformed by anxiety over work, with the organization of the subjects of work (workers) clashing with calls for the “right to work”.  Work is central to modern identity formation, social processes like community, moral attributes like dignity, and existential qualities like purpose, but at the same time dreams of human emancipation revolve around the liberation from work.  Adam Smith, the foundational bard of capitalism, saw in the free market the opportunity to reduce “work” to a few hours per week; two-and-a-half centuries later the World Health Organization has identified “overwork” as a public health crisis, with its most consequential symptom—“death by overwork”—common enough to be reducible to concept, what in Japan is called karoshi.  And a major world language reminds us that negócio, the modern frame for all work, is precisely a negation: of ócio, idleness, leisure, pleasure.  Nation-states themselves take on as a major function of their administrative existence the regulation of who can work within their borders, and on what terms; immigration debates worldwide often turn on questions of work.  This course revolves around the modern idea of work.  We’ll pose the question “what is work?”, and look to some classic texts to get us started: Smith, Marx, Freud, Veblen, Arendt, Debord, Foucault, and others.  Once historicized and problematized as an idea, we will focus on a set of topics where work is at stake, to be guided by student interest, for example: work and inequality; forced work (e.g. slavery); work and (im)migration; work and race; unremunerated work (‘house work’); sex work; violence work; work as commodity; work and identity; global divisions of labor; the end of work.  As a way of getting into these topics, we will draw on the way in which they are problematized by cultural producers, especially (although not exclusively) contemporary films such as Heart of Glass (Herzog, 1976), Batalla en el cielo (Reygadas, 2006), Parque Vía (Rivero, 2008), Biutiful (González Iñárritu, 2010), La mujer sin cabeza (Martel, 2009), Roma (2018), Parasite (Joon-ho, 2019),  Sorry we missed you (Loach, 2020), First Cow (Reichardt, 2020), Martin Eden (Marcello, 2020), Nomadland (Zhao, 2021), and others.  Language of instruction: English.  Student production can be in any language.  Comparative work is encouraged

Caribbean Discourse, Caribbean Poetry: (Dis)-Identity and Landscape

B. Heller

Caribbean societies are diverse, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual. They also share a common history of colonization and slavery, neo-colonization, and plantation and tourist economies that are in stark contrast to the stereotypes of sun, sand, etc. This course examines high points in 20th and 21st Century Caribbean discourse (meta-theoretical texts about the Caribbean) and Caribbean poetry from the three major linguistic traditions (Spanish, English and French). We will focus on the poetry itself, the place of land and seascapes in Caribbean discourse, as well as issues of identity, difference and disidentification. We will read theoretical texts by Fernando Ortiz, Antonio Benítez Rojo, Édouard Glissant, Silvio Torres Saillant, and José Esteban Muñoz, and poetry by José Martí, Nicolás Guillén, Aimé Césaire, José Lezama Lima, Virgilio Piñera, Derek Walcott, Rosario Ferré, Julia Álvarez, Juan Carlos Flores, Víctor Fowler, and Damaris Calderón. Class to be conducted in Spanish.

Latin American Feminism and the Feminist Novel in the Twentieth Century

M. Olivera-Williams

The twentieth century was the century of women, feminism, and the feminist novel in Latin America. The history of Latin American feminism presents three milestones: first, the women’s movements that demanded political and civil equality at the beginning of the century and culminated in the 1950s with what Julieta Kirkwood called “the years of silence”; second, the violent decades of the 1970s and 1980s, when women challenged their historic exclusion from political life, showed how authoritarian regimes replicated patriarchal oppression, and developed feminist theories and practices; and third, the 1990s, when women focused on the damaging effects of neoliberalism, which impacted the activism of women and the development of feminist ideas. This graduate seminar will focus on the feminist novel since the 1950s, when women ventured into a genre they had barely published in the past, and will trace its course through the multiple positions that Latin American feminism took during the twentieth century. For Ph.D. students, this seminar should result in a preliminary academic paper of sufficient quality to be reviewed and submitted to a peer-review publication or to become a chapter of an ongoing dissertation. For MA students, it should result in a research paper ready to be presented at a professional conference. Taught in Spanish.

Cuban Literature, History, and Culture from the Late Colonial Era to the Special Period

T. Anderson

This course will offer a panoramic view of Cuban literature and History from the early 19th Century to the present.  Through readings of short fiction, novels, poetry, and essays by authors such as Juan Francisco Manzano, Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, José Martí, Nicolás Guillén, Virgilio Piñera, José Lezama Lima,  Alejo Carpentier, Fidel Castro, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Nancy Morejón, and Fidel Castro we will explore various topics such as the legacies of colonialism and slavery, the plantation economy, race and Cuban national identity, the influence of U. S. imperialism on Cuban society and culture, and the far-reaching impacts of the Cuban Revolution. Taught in Spanish.

Fall 2021 Courses

Introduction to Research and Textual Analysis

C. Jáuregui

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.

The Race War

J. Lund

What is the relation between “race” and “war”? In 1976, the French philosopher Michel Foucault would go as far as to “praise” what he called “the discourse of race war”.  It’s a provocation, but it’s also the opening move to his important work on a “genealogy of racism”.  Ultimately, Foucault argues that a range of prominent protest traditions (for example, “class struggle”) most effectively organize themselves around a story of “race war”, and that in capitalist modernity this story transforms into the state itself, becoming eventually the philosophical underpinning of “state racism”.  (This is where Foucault starts talking about his influential idea of “biopolitics”, the politics around life itself.) In short, for Foucault: race, in its very moment of social invention, is inextricable from war.  In an age where “race war” is again coursing through political conflict in the Americas and overseas, it’s a good moment to revisit Foucault’s historiographical gambit.  What are the critical possibilities and limits of this “genealogy of racism”? Or more bluntly: Can Foucault’s genealogy help us to extinguish the harrowing theories and practices of race war from global political culture? We’ll pursue that question by working through some of the great debates around race and racism that have marked the cultural history of the Americas and Europe.  These might include: Las Casas and Sepúlveda on the humanity of indigenous Americans; slavery and the formation of American nation-states; Herder, Kant, Hegel; nineteenth-century race science, eugenics, and their rejection; the race-and-culture debates (e.g. Boas, Dubois, Freyre, against the race scientists); the so-called “problema indígena” debates in Latin America; Fanon, Sartre and others on the “fact of blackness”; race and rights struggles in the post-WWII era; Black Lives Matter and related protest movements worldwide; social media and the consolidation of white supremacist paramilitarism.  Which selection of these topics we pursue will be guided by student interest.  Materials will be mostly primary texts: historical, philosophical, literary.  Language of instruction: English.  Student production can be in any language.  Comparative work is encouraged..

Denarrativization in Modern 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 literatures. For that purpose we will read as a group the novels Tiempo de Silencio by Luis Martin Santos, Volveras a Region by Juan Benet, La Fea Burguesia by Miguel Espinosa and Los Combatientes by Cristina Morales (please see below for specific editions requested)Our study will also include some works of critical theory by Heidegger, Derrida, Lacan, and Nancy, among others. The majority of the readings would be literary works in Spanish, however this course will be conducted in English, Spanish, or a mixture of both, depending upon the preferences of the students who register.

Interrogating Latinidad

M. Moreno

The purpose of this graduate course is to examine the ways in which Latina/o/x literature and cultural production interrogate the concept of Latinidad, pushing back against its underlying white-centeredness and mestizaje. By centering Afro-Latinx,  Indo-Latinx, Asian-Latinx, and Arab-Latinx cultural production, the course seeks to produce an antiracist and decolonial understanding of the Latina/o/x experience.

Spring 2021 Courses


J. Lund

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.

J. Vitulli

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

C. Jáuregui 

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

J. Lund

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

B. Heller

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

M.R. Olivera-Williams

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

T. Anderson

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

P. Aguilera-Mellado

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

M. Moreno

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

J. Lund

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

V. Miseres

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

J. Lund

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

E. Juárez-Almendros

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

B. Heller

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

C. Jáuregui

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.