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Latin American Literature

Course Number: ENG 213
Transcript Title: Latin American Literature
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: December 19, 2014
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: Yes
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit

Prerequisites

WR 115 and RD 115 or equivalent placement test scores

Course Description

Explores fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, drama, myth, and other texts from Latin America. Includes works from many cultures and ethnicities from Latin America, including indigenous peoples. All readings are in English. Prerequisite: WR 115 and RD 115 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  1. Read and discuss the literary forms and elements in a variety of texts (“texts” here is meant in its broadest sense and may include music, architecture, weaving, and visual arts).
  2. Compare and contrast the social, religious, political, economic, gender, generational, and environmental issues raised in these texts with those seen in the world at hand.
  3. Discuss how literary themes and metaphors express particular world views.
  4. Explore Otherness by studying the issues of identity and alienation present in the texts, describing the layers of identity portrayed through characters and cultures and paying particular attention to the creation and dissolution of various types of borders.
  5. Discuss the writers’ explorations of the role of the storyteller in various Latin American and indigenous societies.
  6. Write clear, focused, coherent essays about literature for an academic audience, using standard English conventions of grammar and style.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

The final grade for the course will be based on the extent of the student's understanding of the course readings, lectures, presentations, and discussions. Assessment strategies may include exams, short analytic essays, journals, oral presentations, creative expression linked to the themes explored in the course, formal papers.

Texts and Materials

POSSIBLE TEXTS

A number of anthologies exist; however, some present bias through omission or commentary, so if an anthology is used, supplemental texts and critical examination of views should be considered.

One good current anthology is The Vintage Book of Latin American Stories, edited by Carlos Fuentes and Julio Ortega. Fortunately, individual works of fiction or poetry in translation (or written in English by writers who are bi- or multi-lingual) are numerous, so instructors should have no difficulty designing a general introductory course or a more focused course around a particular theme or issue.

Historical pieces such as The Popol Vuh, the writings of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, and Pablo Neruda as well as contemporary works by Julia Alvarez, Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Claribel Alegria, Rosario Ferre, Julio Cortazar, and Rigoberta Menchu are readily available.

To enrich the students understanding of Latin American literature and culture, films can provide a valuable resource as well. Contact one of the instructors for a full bibliography of texts and films.

Course Activities and Design

Class time consists of lecture and group discussion, exploratory and explanatory group and individual activities, viewing and connecting of film, slides, and other resources to works read, guest lectures, internet or library explorations, oral presentations on outside related reading or study. Written analyses of texts read will range from the informal journal to formal papers; creative writing may also be used to understand literary elements such as voice/perspective, and style, or to explore how changing a social or economic influence impacts the story. A current events journal covering politics, art, gender, and social events and issues may be used to link the texts to contemporary happenings.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

THEME

  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Character
  • Point of view
  • Narrative styles
  • Symbolism
  • Imagery
  • Genres of fiction
  • Regional or national literatures
  • Social class
  • Exploitation
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Central vs. marginal social position
  • History of conquest
  • Impact of Catholicism and other religious ideologies
  • Revolution
  • Political and social history
  • Indigenous cultures
  • Role of the storyteller

COMPETENCIES AND SKILLS

  • Analysis
  • Synthesis
  • Understanding various texts through social, political, artistic, and other contexts.
  • Writing about literature.
  • Close readings.
  • Speaking and listening reflectively.