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Courses in Latin American Studies

Spring Semester 2008-09

AMS 346/SOC 341/LAS 336
Latinos in American Life and Culture
This seminar will consider how Latinos are transforming the United States even as they evolve as a people. We will discuss Hispanicity as a hybrid ethno-racial identity, debate the ethical dilemmas posed by undocumented immigration, evaluate the social implications of Hispanics’ unprecedented geographic dispersal, and explore what the burgeoning second generation portends for the future contours of social and economic inequality, future political influence, and the cultural imprints through music, literature and bilingualism.
Marta Tienda. Schedule: S01 1:30pm–4:20 M.
ART 468/LAS 468
The Art and Politics of Ancient Maya Courts
This course explores royal Maya courts of the 7th and 8th centuries, with particular attention given to art and writing. We will consider in depth several of the most impressive Maya courts. Regular decipherment assignments will complement assigned readings. A spring recess trip to Chiapas, Mexico, is a mandatory component of the course (funded by Princeton). Students will conduct independent research on a topic of their choosing, presenting their findings both as an oral presentation and as a term paper. Other Information: For Program 1, department majors satisfies African/Pre-Columbian distribution requirement. For Program 3, satisfies Pre-Columbian distribution requirement.
Bryan R. Just. Schedule: S01 1:30pm–4:20 W.
EEB 332/LAS 350
Pre-Columbian Peoples of Tropical American and Their Environments
The pre-European history of Amerind cultures and their associated environments in the New World tropics will be studied. Topics to be covered include the people of tropical America; development of hunting/gathering and agricultural economies; neotropical climate and vegetation history; and the art, symbolism, and social organization of native Americans. Field and laboratory experiences will incorporate methods and problems in field archaeology, paleoenthnobotany and paleoecology, and archaeozoology. Prerequisites and Restrictions: EEB 210 or EEB 211, and EEB 321; and enrollment in the EEB Spring Semester Tropical Biology Program in Panama.
Richard Cooke, Delores R. Piperno. Schedule: L01 TBA, B01 TBA
EEB 338/LAS 351
Tropical Biology
“Tropical Biology” is an intensive, three-week field course given at four sites in Panama, examining the origins, maintenance and major interactions among terrestrial plants and animals. The course provides the opportunity to appreciate (1) floral and faunal turnover among four rainforest sites (beta-diversity); and (2) floral and faunal turnover along vertical gradients, from ground to upper canopy, at two rainforest sites (vertical stratification). Students carry out group and individual projects at the sites. Fieldwork is supported by six orientation walks that introduce participants to common orders and families of plants and arthropods. Prerequisites and Restrictions: EEB 321 and enrollment in the EEB Spring Semester Tropical Biology Program in Panama.
Yves F. Basset. Schedule: L01 TBA, B01 TBA.
HIS 303/LAS 305
Colonial Latin America to 1810
This course begins with the origins and consolidation of the Aztec, Inca and Iberian polities and ends with the severance of colonial ties. It combines an overview of the political economy of the region over three centuries with a study of how social groups interacted among themselves and with imperial rule over time through accommodation and conflict. We pay special attention to comparisons and contrasts – centers and frontiers of settlement, urban and rural life, indigenous and African populations, religion and transgression, Portuguese and Spanish models of rule -- and to long-term processes and implications of environmental change.
Vera S. Candiani. Schedule: L01 10:00am-10:50 MW. P01 TBA.
LAS 402/SPA 420
Latin American Studies Seminar: Distant Dialogues: Cuban Literature of the Diaspora
The course will analyze the most recent fiction and non-fiction by Cuban authors living outside Cuba. Though many of them nostalgically revisit their experience in the island, they tend to surpass the frontal critic of recent Cuban history and a clear intention of overcoming the national referential frame; the works either resort to allegorical approaches or establish fruitful dialogues with their current foreign surroundings. These authors turn to allegory and fables, thus their approaches are more oblique. Though a narrative of much effectiveness, the Cuban situation is never mentioned directly, nor portrayed in a conventional or realistic way.
José Manuel Prieto. Schedule: S01 1:30pm–4:20 M.
POL 354/LAS 357
Social Revolutions: Latin America in Comparative Perspective
Through the analysis of a range of historical cases, this course considers the factors underlying the emergence and success of revolutions, as well as the process by which they unfold. Readings are drawn from classics in political science and sociology, as well as research conducted more recently. Cases include Russia, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, and Colombia. Prerequisites and Restrictions: None, though a course in comparative politics or sociology is highly recommended.
Hillel D. Soifer. Schedule: L01 9:00am–9:50 MW, P01 3:30pm–4:20pm W, P02 TBA.
POL 431/LAS 431
Seminar in Comparative Politics: Latin American Political Economy
This seminar covers selected topics in the political economy of Latin America. The main emphasis will be on the international and domestic roots of the neoliberal economic reforms since the 1980s. We will pay special attention to the debate about the extent to which these reforms were compatible with democratic politics. We will also analyze the role of economic crises as a driver of reforms and the implications of the region’s high income inequality for the prospects of democracy and economic liberalism in Latin America.
Grigore Pop-Eleches. Schedule: S01 1:30pm–4:20 T.
POR 221/LAS 223
Introduction to the Literature and Culture of the Portuguese-Speaking World
The course explores the relations between Brazilian poetry and song lyrics. We will analyze the cultural repercussions of the presence of Brazilian poets in the realm of music. With Modernism, popular music was incorporated into the main trends of high culture, and helped to define its new social scope. Later, poets as Vinicius de Moraes and F. Gullar engaged in Bossa Nova and Tropicalismo. The Concrete poets stimulated the alliance of avant-garde experimental music and Tropicalism, an alliance that persists today, in poets such as A. Cicer and Arnaldo Antunes. Prerequisites and Restrictions: POR 208 or instructor’s permission.
Pedro Meira Monteiro. Schedule: C01 7:30pm–10:20 W.
POR 301/LAS 303
Modern Brazilian Literature and Culture
An introduction to Brazilian Literature through the study of the representations of the city and of the urban spaces in poetry, contemporary narrative and film. Readings will range from Mario De Andrade’s Paculicéia Desvairada (Hallucinated City) and from São Paulo as an emergent metropolis in the 20’s, to the decayed lyricism of some bohemian and suburban zones. The failed utopianism of Brasilia will be discussed through the ambivalences of the avant-gardes of the 60’s. We will also read short stories of R. Fonseca portraying Rio de Janeiro’s violent city life and its representations on Brazilian contemporary cinema. Prerequisites and Restrictions: POR 207, POR 208 or instructor’s permission. Other Information: The classes will be illustrated by photographs and digital images. Film screenings will also be scheduled. Classes will be taught in Portuguese, the main readings will be in Portuguese and two short papers must be written in Portuguese.
Jussara M. Quadros. C01 7:30pm–10:20 T.
SOC 248/LAS 248
Modern Mexican Society
An introduction to social, political, and economic organization of modern Mexico. The course traces the evolution of Mexico’s fundamental institutions from their birth after the Mexican Revolution of 1910, through their flowering during the 1950s and 1960s, to changes in the neoliberal era of the 1980s and 1990s. The course ends with a consideration of Mexico’s current position as a partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Douglas S. Massey. Schedule: L01 11:00am–11:50 MW, P01 TBA.
SOC 310/LAS 310
Gender and Development in the Americas
This course examines gender as an integral component of socio-economic development in the United States and areas of Latin America. We give attention to processes of industrial restructuring on a global scale that have increased the participation of women in the labor force and transformed men’s employment alternatives. The relationship between gender inequaility and social order is a central focus. We give special attention to liberal and Marxian approaches in economic.
Ana M. Goldani. Schedule: L01 1:30pm–2:20 MW, PO1 TBA.
SOC 315/LAS 316/AAS 315
Race, Ethnicity and Nationalism in Latin America
A wide range of issues regarding race, ethnicity and nationalism in Latin America will be examined. We will explore the basic sociological, political and cultural concepts of nation, race and ethnicity emphasizing how they are used in the region. Race and ethnicity have taken on special meanings (comparatively race and ethnicity are distinct from other regions) in Latin America. Much of the course will focus on how that came about and how race is manifested. Comparisons to the U.S. will be emphasized as will comparisons across countries within Latin America. The course will cover populations of African and indigenous origins.
Edward E. Telles. Schedule: L01 1:30pm–2:20 TTh, P01 TBA.
SPA 222/LAS 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 transformation 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 107 or 108, although another 200-level class, particularly SPA 207 is recommended. Other Information: Course taught in Spanish.
Gabriela Nouzeilles. Schedule: L01 11:00am–12:20 T, P01 11:00am–12:20 Th, P02 3:00pm–4:20 Th.
SPA 342/LAS 342
Topics in Latin American Modernity: Reading the Present in Argentine Literature and Film
This course studies recent Argentine films and literary texts and how they approach the (historical) present through the concepts of space, time, and voice. The stories put forward by the novels, chronicles, short-stories, and film-essays focus on experiences of body and memory that are both political and uniquely personal. Readings include works by writers Sergio Chejfec, Matilde Sánchez, Martín Kohan, and filmmakers Martín Rejtman and Lucrecia Martel. Prerequisites and Restrictions: A 200-level Spanish course or instructor’s permission. Other Information: Course will be taught in Spanish.
Ana Amado. Schedule: C01 3:00pm-4:20 MW.
SPA 350/LAS 349
Topics in Latin American Cultural Studies: Dictatorship and Transition in Southern Cone Cultures
This course will focus on recent cultural production addressing the experience of dictatorship and transition in Latin American countries in the Southern Cone. We will analyze the political crisis of representation as it was configured in literature and cultural critique. In turn, we will approach different discourses on the transition by focusing on the ways in which literary works and the visual arts from the transition tended to reorganize space, temporality, and visuality in new ways. Some authors we will analyze include Diamela Eltit, Luisa Valenzuela, Roberto Bolaño, Mauricio Rosencof, Cristina Peri Rossi, Tununa Mercado, among others.
Susana Draper. Schedule: S01 3:00pm–4:20 TTh.
SPA 427/LAS 426
Modern Latin American Cinema
The waves of cinematic modernism that swept world cinema beginning with neo-realism had a profound impact on the development of Latin American film. This class will provide a survey of aesthetic, industrial and political changes in Latin American filmmaking, locating the place of cinema in a rapidly changing cultural context. Among the directors whose work will be discussed will be Luis Buñuel, Glauber Rocha, Tomas Gutiérrez Alea, and Raúl Ruiz. Prerequisites and Restrictions: Course will be taught in Spanish. Attendance is mandatory at both the weekly lecture and evening film screening. Other Information: Professor Richard Peña is the Program Director for the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Director of the New York Film Festival, and an Associate Professor at Columbia University.
Richard Peña. Schedule: L01 1:30pm–4:20 M, 7:30-10:20 Th.

Courses of Interest

 AAS 310/ENG 324/MUS 256
Music from the Hispanophone Caribbean
This interdisciplinary seminar utilizes the musical cultures of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba to reflect upon the aesthetic, migratory, and social histories of the Hispanophone Caribbean.   Students will listen to the sounded legacies of conquest, slavery, colonialism, and U.S. intervention and occupation. The effects of transnational migration on music's performance and reception will also be one of the key themes in the course. We will not only consider the creative traditions and receptive worlds embedded in musical recordings, but will also pay attention to music's traces in literature, film, and other ephemera.
Alexandra T. Vazquez. Schedule: S01 1:30pm-4:20pm M.
COM 383
The Prisons in Literature and the Visual Arts
This course will explore the idea of the prison in literature, critical thought, and the visual arts, and will approach the prison as an essential site for thinking about connections between modern ideas of law and freedom. While reading canonical and non canonical literary and philosophical writings dealing with the theme of the prison, we will pay special attention to the metamorphoses of the prison complex in contemporary societies. Although we will address authors from different cultural traditions, special emphasis will be placed on the development of the prison in Latin American cultures. Some of the authors we will read include José Revueltas, Manuel Puig, Carlos Liscano, Alicia Partnoy, Jean Genet, Jean P. Sartre, Michel Foucault, Kafka, and Nanni Ballestrini, among others. Some of the visual materials we will analyze include Héctor Babenco’s Carandiru, James Casebere’s “Prison Typology,” and Oliver Hirschbiegel’s The Experiment.
Susana Draper. Schedule: L01 1:30pm–2:50 TTh.
EEB 350
Vertebrate Tropical Ecology
This field course will address the life history characteristics of tropical vertebrates and physiological traits that underlie those. Students will learn how tropical life histories differ from those in the temperate zone and will use eco-physiological techniques while conducting experiments and observations at a Smithsonian Institute field station. In particular, students will trap wild vertebrates; conduct baseline behavioral and physiological measurements; attach radio transmitters to individuals and monitor them over time in the forests. Students will then analyze the data and write a scientific manuscript. Prerequisites and Restrictions: Enrollment limited to EEB juniors only and they must be enrolled in the Tropical Ecology Program in Panama. Other Information: Part of spring semester in Panama. Under “Requirements/Grading” section, 20% of course grade is field notes.
Martin C. Wikelski. Schedule: S01 TBA, B01 TBA.
ENG 402/AAS 408
Forms of Literature: Introduction to U.S. Latina/o Literature
This course introduces key readings and developments in U.S. Latina/o literature from the early twentieth century to the present. With a focus on Nuyorican, Cuban, Dominican, Chicana/o and Tejana/o populations, students will examine how literature both mirrors and informs conditions of migration; debates about race, gender and sexuality; issues of language; myths of assimilation; and oral-literary traditions. Other Information: The interdisciplinary structure of the course utilizes Latina/o aesthetic practices found in other expressive cultural forms such as comic books, poster art, solo performance, and music as provocative counterpoints to the readings.
Alexandra T. Vazquez. Schedule: S01 1:30pm–4:20 T.
FRS 138
Latino/a Popular Culture [SA]
This course examines the terms of Latino/a visibility and belonging in the U.S. by looking to the work of contemporary cultural producers engaged in Latino/a representation. Critical of the so-called “boom” in U.S. Latino/a media, the material of this course resists simplified ways of understanding mainstream inclusion and explores the complicated operations of such publicity. In the history of the U.S., the Latino/a body surfaces as kind of productive “shape-shifter” within popular culture and is mobilized to advance a multiplicity of nationalist projects. It is the precise inability to define Latino/as as a unified entity that fuels representations of Latino/as as a threat to the nation while simultaneously advancing the idea of Latino/as as ideal citizen-consumers. Theoretical texts on identity and the social and cultural production of race will be used to discuss the interventions made by Latino/a cultural producers engaged with the politics of national visibility. Film, video, visual art, popular media, and performances will be situated within historical trends in Latino/a representation. Multiple venues of representation will be discussed, including advertising, popular press, and film. Students will be asked to consider the specific operations of Latino/a representation in relation to means of production, modes of consumption, and the accessibility of different cultural forms.
Ricardo Montez. Schedule: TBA.
HIS 504
Colonial Latin America to 1810
This course is a starting point for further exploration of Latin America’s colonial past, with an emphasis on Mexico and the comparative possibilities that fan out towards the Andes and to “marginal” regions. How historians have written and thought about this past has changed over the last two decades, with new concepts and topics coming to the fore. We will explore what these new trends involve, why some types of questions now seem more urgent than others, and what problems of past historiographical traditions still remain and deserve a new look. So our readings will include classics as well as more recent works that display new approaches.
Vera S. Candiani. Schedule: S01 10:00am–12:50 M.
POL 333
Latino Politics in the U.S.
This course will explore the personal, political, historical and sacred aspects of la comunidad latina in the United States from the perspective of a theory of transformation. The course intends to provide students from all backgrounds the opportunity to see people in their own midst becoming and being political as they move forward to create a new culture and community in this country. Prerequisites and Restrictions: This course is open to first year students. 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 credit for the certificate.
David T. Abalos. Schedule: L01 12:30pm–1:20 MW, P01 1:30 pm–2:20 M, P02 TBA.
POL 351
Politics in the Developing Countries
This course examines the politics of development through discussions of theory and comparative analysis in selected countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Topics include colonialism; nationalism; ethnic and class conflict; state-building and state failure; globalization; HIV/AIDS; and the causes and consequences of democratic regime change. Other Requirements: Not open to freshmen without permission of instructor. 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.
Evan S. Lieberman. Schedule: L01 10:00am–10:50 TTh, P01 2:30-3:20 T, P02 TBA.
POR 561
Modern Brazilian Literature
The seminar will analyze the emergence of modern subjectivities in Brazilian literature in confrontation with the cultural inheritance of patriarchalism. Freyre’s anthropology revealed the inextricable ties of perversity and pleasure at the core of the casa grande. Modernist avant-garde dreamed of a utopian matriarchal realm. Poets as C. Drummond and Cabral de Mello, performed with irony the mourning of the old traditional families. We will follow the development of this thematic from Modernisms to contemporary fiction. Other Information: Seminar will be conducted in Portuguese, though discussions can be held in Portuguese, English or Spanish. **Undergraduates interested in this course should contact the instructor.**
Jussara M. Quadros. Schedule: S01 1:30pm–4:20 F.

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 work. 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, or SPA 207 in addition to instructor’s permission. Please e-mail Enrique Martínez-Bogo ( Other Information: Sample film list (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.
Enrique Martínez-Bogo. Schedule: C01 11:00am–12:20 MW, C02 1:30pm–2:50 MW, F01 7:30pm–9:50 Th.
SPA 548
Seminar in Modern Spanish-American Literature: Freud at Large: Psychoanalysis, Art and Literature
An overview of the reception of Freud in Latin America with special emphasis on the transformation of psychoanalytic theory and undertaken by artists and writers. Freud was read by figures as diverse as Octavio Paz, Frida Kahlo, Samuel Ramos, Salvador Novo, Martínez Estrada, Julio Cortázar, and each one of them use psychoanalytic theory for a completely different project. The seminar will examine how the Latin American political and cultural context of the 1920s and 1930s opened the door for a novel reading of Freud.
Rubén Gallo. Schedule: S01 4:30pm–7:20 W.
WWS 572D/POL 524
Topics in Development: Democracy, Violence and Citizen Security
What is the relationship between violence and democratization? Why have new forms of violence peaked in some places and not others? This course will address violence in third-wave democracies in Latin America, Africa, and Eurasia by looking at theoretical discussions of the role of violence in state building: analyze newly democratized cases in light of if/how/why they have (un)successfully secured citizen security; and finally, debate democratic policy options in light of the oft-cited tension between public order and civil liberties. Other Information: For more information on WWS Graduate Courses, please see the WWS website: 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.
Deborah Yashar. Schedule: S01 TBA.

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