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Courses in Latin American Studies

Fall Semester 2009-2010

ENG 337/AAS 361/LAS 337/LAO 337
The Literary South
The American South is not only a geographical place, but is also a condition of living. Given its idiosyncrasies, the region has long been understood as a problem for a cohesive United States. This interdisciplinary seminar will reflect on the South as an actual and imagined place. Through attention to legacies of conquest, slavery, and empire, students will engage the region both as a site of historical violence and a generative literary milieu. Key readings in U.S. Southern literature, and, recognizing the region’s porousness, also from Latin America.
Alexandra T. Vazquez. Schedule: S01 1:30pm–2:50 TTh.

LAS 401/SPA 410
Latin American Studies Seminar: Latin American Cities: Realism and Urbanism

Through films, narratives, public photography and documentaries, this course examines how new aesthetics of realism produce fabrications of realities in contested urban terrains. We will discuss issues related to social violence, marginality, politics of memory, and practices of consumption. Case studies will focus on: Buenos Aires and the politics of memory; Rio de Janeiro and the visibility of the favelas; and Mexico DF and the crisis of the city. Other Information: There will be special class sessions for film viewing and PowerPoint presentations.
Beatriz Jaguaribe. Schedule: S01 1:30pm-4:20 M.  

LAS 406/EAS 406/SPA 406/COM 411
Latin American Studies Seminar: Borges, Paz and Sarduy: A Window on Asia

This seminar will show the relations between contemporary Latin American literature and the cultures of Asia. These relations run through nearly the entire 20th century and take singular form in the work of three major writers belonging to three different generations and countries: Argentine Jorge Luis Borges, Mexican Octavio Paz, and Cuban Severo Sarduy. We will study their work from a comparative perspective allowing us to trace the evolution of what Edward Said has called "orientalism", over time. Borges, Paz, and Sarduy will open for us an unexpected window on Asia. Prerequisites and Restrictions: Students should be able to communicate, read, and write in Spanish. As well, students need to be able to critically analyze a literary text. Evidence of familiarity with literary theory, and with the traditional or contemporary philosophical thinking pertinent to the question may be helpful, but is not always necessary. Other Information: Three figures may be invited to contribute to the seminar: María Kodama-Borges, the Argentine writer's wife and among those most familiar with his interests in Asia; Kathleen López (Lehman College, NY), a specialist of Chinese immigration to Cuba in the 19th and 20th centuries; and Mario Bellatin, Mexican novelist and short story writer and the author of several works inspired by Asia. The course will be conducted in Spanish.
Gustavo Guerrero. Schedule: S01 1:30pm-4:20 Th.  

POR 300/LAS 315
Literary Masterpieces of Portugal and Brazil

This course focuses on works that have been key for shaping the literary tradition of Portuguese, from colonial to postcolonial times. Discussions will focus on some of the intersections between literature, social change, identity and music in Brazil, Portugal and Lusophone Africa. We will read selected texts by writers such as Luis de Camoes, Eca de Queiroz, Machado de Assis, Fernando Pessoa, Mia Couto, and Jose Saramago. Prerequisites and Restrictions: POR 208, POR 209, or instructor’s permission.
Bruno Carvalho. Schedule: C01 3:00pm-4:20 MW.

POR 301/LAS 303
Modern Brazilian Literature and Culture

A study of 20th and 21st century Brazilian texts, with the aim of discussing the distinctive character of Brazilian literature and culture within the broader context of Latin America. Works by Gilberto Freyre, Mario de Andrade, Manuel Bandeira, Graciliano Ramos, João Cabral de Melo Neto, Clarice Lispector, and João Almino. Prerequisites and Restrictions: POR 208 or instructor’s permission.
Pedro Meira Monteiro. Schedule: C01 7:30pm-8:50 MW.

REL 275/LAS 275
Church and Religion in Colonial Latin America
An introductory exploration of the history of religious change and the Catholic Church in Latin America during the dramatic years of Spanish and Portuguese colonization, from 1492 to the beginning of mainland independence in the early 19th century. Through primary sources, secondary readings, lectures, and discussion, students will grapple with such subjects as: the role of the church in "the conquest"; the complexities of religious change in indigenous populations; women and men's daily encounters with the church and devotional culture; and changes in religious expression and the role of the church in colonial society.
Jessica Delgado. Schedule: L01 12:30pm-1:20 TTh, P01 TBA.

SOC 331/LAS 330
Social Exclusion in Latin America

Introduction to social exclusion in modern Latin America. This course examines the historical development and structural roots of social exclusion in Latin America as well as demands for inclusion and government and civil society responses. Forms of social exclusion include those based on class, race, ethnicity, and gender. The course emphasizes the context of democratization and neoliberalism in the region and a social environment of high income inequality and crime.
Edward E. Telles. Schedule: L01 2:30pm-3:20 TTh, P01 TBA.

SPA 222/LAS 222/LAO 222
Introduction to Latin American Cultures

This course offers an introduction to modern Spanish American literature and culture. It focuses on the complex ways in which cultural and intellectual production anticipates, participates in, and responds to political, social, and economic transformations in the 20th and 21st centuries. Through a wide spectrum of sources (essays, fiction, poetry, film, and art), students will study and discuss some of the most relevant issues in Latin American modern history, such as modernity, democracy, identity, memory, and social and economic justice. Prerequisites and Restrictions: SPA 207 or higher, or instructor’s permission. Other Information: Course taught in Spanish.
Rachel L. Price. Schedule: C01 3:00pm-4:20 MW.

SPA 331/LAS 331
Modern Latin American Fiction
This course will focus on the analysis of the present debate on the great tradition of short fiction in Spanish American literature. Diverse forms will be considered: from the micro-history and the plot to the short story. Essays and works on these literary forms written by the authors themselves will be used as a framework for making general remarks on the theory and poetics of this genre. A series of essays and fiction by Quiroga, Borges, Corázar, Garro, S. Ocampo, Rulfo, García Márques, etc., will be read during this course. Prerequisites and Restrictions: A 200–level Spanish course or instructor’s permission. Other Information: Course taught in Spanish.
Ricardo E. Piglia. Schedule: L01 1:30pm–2:50 T, P01 1:30 pm–2:50 Th, P02 3:00pm-4:20 Th.

SPA 343/LAS 343
The Invention of Latin American Traditions
An overview of 19-21st century Latin American literature that engages with "old"and "new" media, from typewriters and "glossographs" to radio, film and computers. Modernismo, 1920s avant gardes, 1950s Concrete Poetry's relation to cybernetics, Borges on information, literature & mass media, hypertext fiction. Films, art and digital literature included. Readings: José Martí's Chronicles, Vicente Huidobro's Cagliostro, Virgilio Piñera's El muñeco, Manuel Puig's El beso de la mujer araña, Jorge Luís Borges's Ficciones, Edmundo Paz Soldán's El delirio de Turing, among others; critics Flora Sussekind, Len Manovich, Jesús Martín Barbero. Other Requirements: Not Open to Freshmen. Prerequisites and Restrictions: A 200-level Spanish course or permission of the instructor. Other Information: Course conducted in Spanish.
Rachel Price. Schedule: S01 1:30pm-2:50pm MW.

SPA 356/LAS 365
Roberto Bolaño: Adventures in Cultureland
Forty years after the emergence of Gabriel García Márquez, the narrative works of the Chilean Roberto Bolaño have once again put Latin American literature at the center of the world's cultural mainstream. Quiet poet, public storyteller, and heir of Borges' most intricate speculations and the beatniks' nomadism, Bolaño broke with the recipes of magical realism and opened a fresh literary horizon by combining anti-intellectual vitalism and erudite conceptualism. This course explores the artistic strategies of an author who made Jim Morrison dialogue with James Joyce, and went from being an anonymous eccentric to a New York Times bestseller. Prerequisites and Restrictions: At least one LA distribution area course in SPA. Course will be taught in Spanish. Other Information: Taught by visiting faculty Alan Pauls, Argentine writer, scriptwriter, literary critic, and journalist. His novel El pasado was awarded the prestigious international literary prize Premio Herralde in 2003 and was turned into a film. He has written several books on Latin American fiction, Jorge Luis Borges, and Manuel Puig. His fictional works have been translated into more than eight languages.
Alan Pauls. Schedule: C01 11:00am–12:20pm TTh.

Courses of Interest

FRS 133
The Virgin Mary in the Hispanic World [HA]
This course will explore the role of the Virgin Mary in the formation of cultural and social identities in Spain, Latin America, and Hispanic communities in the United States. We will consider the impact that the Virgin Mary has had in shaping notions of the ideal woman in the Hispanic world throughout history. In addition, we will examine how the Virgin Mary, and more specifically, her images, have been conceived and have inspired multiple and varied myths, rituals, and folk devotions. Our focus will be in unveiling the inner workings of a “religion” of the people. We will take into account that most worshippers of the Virgin Mary have recognized, in principle, that their devotion is directed in some way to the Mother of God and not to a particular image. At the same time, the way in which these same followers have focused on the image itself—her physical features and singular character—reveals the reality of how religion has been and continues to be practiced in the Hispanic world. We will see how a particular image of the Virgin is treated like an actual person, in the way she is dressed, worshipped, despised, or displayed in religious festivals or fiestas. Marian rituals have been a means to create sense of solidarity and faith in the culture that produced them, whether they are used to fight a plague, the Moors, a rebel army, or an oppressing government. We will analyze how she has been literally and figuratively used for political ends throughout history, as seen in the Spanish wars of the Reconquest against the Moors, the Spanish colonization of the New World, the wars of Latin American independence, and the more recent Falkland/Malvinas war. We will investigate how the Virgin and what she is believed to represent has been forged by different groups when establishing and reinforcing collective identities (national and local) as seen in the reverence for the popular advocations of Guadalupe (México and Hispanic communities in the U.S.), Copacabana (Bolivia), La Macarena (Seville), and Belén (Cuzco), among others. Furthermore, we will survey how the cult of Mary has been projected onto devotions of female folk saints of Latin America, such as in the case of Eva Perón (Santa Evita). Other Information: Note: Program in Latin American Studies concentrators must write on a Latin American topic and provide a copy of the final paper to PLAS in order to receive certificate credit.
Christina Lee. Schedule: 11 am–12:20 MW.

FRS 165 Borges for Beginners [LA]
Class of 1975 Freshman Seminar
What is an author? As Samuel Becket once wondered, does it matter who’s speaking? What does it mean to study a particular oeuvre? What kind of meaning can we find interweaving the individual texts of a writer or a poet? This seminar grapples with the question of authorship and the attribution of meaning in the literature of Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), the legendary Argentine writer whose convoluted fictions have fascinated and puzzled readers from all over the world for decades. His influence has been so decisive that, according to the Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes, there would not be a modern Latin American novel, and therefore no “magical realism,” without the prose of Jorge Luis Borges. He created a unique world of labyrinthic fictions and poems that explore the aporetic dynamics of time and space, the paradoxes of identity, as well as the ambiguous frontier between reality and fiction. His stories and essays are magical, curious pieces of prose that often mimic standard genres such as the detective story, literary criticism, or science fiction, but which also include subtle and unexpected twists that suddenly leave the reader spinning in a philosophical conundrum about the nature of language, the self, and the universe. This seminar offers an introduction to Borges’s literature and its themes from a variety of perspectives, from philosophy and aesthetics to politics and cultural analysis. As we pursue the question of who is “Jorge Luis Borges” through the reading of some of his most famous fictions, essays, and poems, we will discuss four of the philosophical and literary questions that preoccupied him the most. First, challenging short stories such as “Funes, the Memorious” and “The Immortal” will allow us to study how Borges approached the concept of time and memory, and how in his view forgetting could be a productive way of remembering. Second, by closely reading texts such as “The Babel Library” and “Pierre Menard, author of Don Quijote,” we will explore the metaphysical consequences brought about by the existence of a book that includes all books, and the scandalous creativity of a man who “re-writes” the famous Spanish masterpiece by literally transcribing it. Thirdly, we will consider Borges’s selective re-writing of “Argentine” local traditions such as tango music and the culture of the gauchos, as well as his appropriation and transformation of the detective story as a literary genre. Finally, we will conclude with a discussion of Borges’s disturbing meditations on the notion of identity, the role of the state, and the figure of the traitor. The course will be taught entirely in Spanish, while readings will be in Spanish and English. This course is addressed to students who are interested in literature, philosophy, art and Latin American modernity, and who would like to strengthen and polish their reading, writing, and speaking skills in Spanish. Other Information: Note: Program in Latin American Studies concentrators must write on a Latin American topic and provide a copy of the final paper to PLAS in order to receive certificate credit.
Gabriela Nouzeilles. Schedule: 1:30pm–4:20
FRS 167
Music of the Americas: From Tango to Bossa Nova and Beyond
Musical movements of the New World have always captured the global imagination: the tango was the salon sensation of 1920s Paris; mambo contours Fellini’s 1960 La Dolce Vita; West African musicians have long shaped the son and rumba; and recent evidence points to reggaetón as the dance music of choice for young people across the planet. These musical movements inspire a few pressing questions: What kinds of convergences make the New World sound the way it does? And, what stories are moved through music? This interdisciplinary course introduces a set of musical movements from the early 20th century to the present. Key genres include the tango, rumba, samba, bossa nova, nueva canción, mambo, salsa, rock en Español, turntablism, and reggaetón. The phrase “musical movements” does not only depict a set of shared characteristics organized by genre, but it also suggests a sonic transition, a politicized alliance, and a change in location. Using music as a lens, students will investigate the specific regional factors that contributed to a genre’s development. For example, we will study the interlinked artistic histories of New Orleans and Havana; the port of Buenos Aires as a creative matrix of the Southern Cone; Salvador, Brazil, as the capital of carnaval; and the U.S.-Mexico border as a site of improvisation. This seminar will offer an alternative survey of Latin American cultural studies. Beyond the regional histories of particular sounds, the course will examine the communities and global migrations made by music that are often erased elsewhere. Part of this presence will be studied by way of the musicians themselves. We will pay attention to how performers play with genre, incorporate their spheres of influence, and anticipate their roles as global cultural agents. By pairing these musical performances with writings (including historical texts, musicological writings, filmed performances, oral histories, news articles, poetry, and prose), we will want to ask: What are the altering senses of “New” in the New World? What are the concerns shared between the music and readings? How has music shaped national literature and forms of protest? This seminar will feature a series of guest speakers and performers. Other Information: Note: Program in Latin American Studies concentrators must write on a Latin American topic and provide a copy of the final paper to PLAS in order to receive certificate credit.
Alexandra Vazquez. Schedule: 1:30pm–4:20 W.
HIS 587
Readings in Early American History
A topical exploration of European colonization in the Americas (primarily Spanish, French and English) and the varieties of native resistance and accommodation to those incursions. Other information: Emphasis is on common readings, two 5-page papers, and a 13-page final research paper. Two students will lead each week’s discussion. Note: Program in Latin American Studies concentrators must write on a Latin American topic and provide a copy of the final paper to PLAS in order to receive certificate credit.
James L. Axtell. Schedule: S01 1:30pm-4:20 pm W.
MUS 250/ANT 250
Musical Cultures of the World
Course explores aesthetic principles and social context underlying traditional and popular musics of various world regions, drawing examples from Spain, Cuba, Japan, Bali, and India. Issues explored include conception of melody and rhythm in each culture; the impact of language, pedagogical methods, patronage systems, gender, and ethnic or class identity have had on musical composition and performance; and the role of identity, migration, globalization, and politics in the development of genres. Requirements include short papers, listening/viewing assignments, a midterm, and a final. Prerequisites and Restrictions: Some knowledge of music, through either performance or study, will be helpful but not required. Other Information: Note: Program in Latin American Studies concentrators must write on a Latin American topic and provide a copy of the final paper to PLAS in order to receive certificate credit.
Noriko Manabe. Schedule:L01 1:30pm–2:50 MW.

POR 210
Portuguese Language and Culture through Cinema
An advanced language and culture course looking at a variety of themes pertaining to the contemporary Portuguese-speaking world through cinema. Discussions and compositions will expand knowledge of grammar and increase oral and written Portuguese, providing a solid foundation for further study of literature and culture. Prerequisites and Restrictions: POR 208 or instructor’s permission. Other Information: Note: Program in Latin American Studies concentrators must write on a Latin American topic and provide a copy of the final paper to PLAS in order to receive certificate credit.
Nicola T. Cooney. Schedule: C01 3:00pm-4:20 TTh.

POR 562
Luso-Brazilian Seminar: Does Brazilian Literature Have a History?
A study of Luso-Brazilian literature, from canonical 16th and 17th century Portuguese texts to contemporary Brazilian production. Some questions will guide us through the reading of selected works: Is it still valid to talk about a national literature? What should we do with the old concept of “literary history”? Is there something that makes Brazilian Modernism different from other “Modernism”? Do the fantasies about a Brazilian uniqueness persist in its contemporary literary production? Other Information: Seminar will be conducted in Portuguese, though discussions can be held in Portuguese, English or Spanish.
Pedro Meira Monteiro. Schedule: S01 1:30pm-4:20 Th.  

SPA 209
Spanish Language and Culture through Cinema
A course designed to improve oral and writing skills, while significantly increasing students’ knowledge of cultural affairs in an ever changing Hispanic world. A significant amount of time will be dedicated to intensive debate on a wide variety of topics presented in films. Students interested in contemporary cinema may find this course especially enlightening. The grammar component of the course aims to ease the path to a more fluent communication in Spanish. The diversity of Hispanic culture is presented from the standpoint of a selected number of film directors. Prerequisites and Restrictions: SPA 108 or 107 in addition to instructor’s permission. Please e-mail E. Martínez-Bogo ( Other Information: Sample film list: (Films in Spanish with English subtitles): Alfonso Arau–Como agua para chocolate; Juan Carlos Tabío–Lista de espera; Carlos Saura—¡Ay! Carmela; María Luisa Bemberg—De eso no se habla; Fernando Trueba—Belle epoque; Pedro Almodóvar—Todo sobre mi madre. Note: Program in Latin American Studies concentrators must write on a Latin American topic and provide a copy of the final paper to PLAS in order to receive certificate credit.
Enrique Martínez-Bogo. Schedule: C01 11:00am–12:20 MW, C02 1:30pm–2:50 MW, F01 7:30pm–10:20 Th.  

SPA 547
Narrative Prose in Latin America: Las tres vanguardias
This seminar will focus on current debates on the avant-garde movement, using as a point of reference Argentine literature after Borges. We will study the works of Manuel Puig, Juan José Saer and Rodolfo Walsh in relation to contemporary poetics of the novel in Latin American. This discussion of theoretical will provide the context for the analysis of trajectory of the authors studied.
Ricardo E. Piglia. Schedule: S01 1:30pm-4:20 M.

Course Offerings

Fall Semester 2009-10
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