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Optional Modules

Centre of Latin American Studies


Modernity and Marginality in Latin American Literary Culture

This module provides the opportunity to study the work of key Latin American writers and to engage with a range of important topics and debates in Latin American literary culture. The topics studied are very diverse, but what unites them is a critical perspective on modernity, as well as the exploration of marginal subjectivities. We will investigate how literary texts in Latin America have explored indigenous, cyborg, subaltern, queer, animal, outlaw, slave, feminist, negrista, postcolonial or immigrant perspectives, and how they have articulated a critique of the modern state, nationalism, capitalism, neoliberalism, and cosmopolitanism, as well as literary culture itself and the canon. Texts are drawn from across the region - including Chile, Argentina, Cuba, Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico - and include a wide range of genres. Our study of them will lead us to consider key intellectual and cultural shifts in Latin America, and to explore the usefulness of a number of theoretical and critical paradigms, originating in Latin America, Europe, North America and elsewhere.

A good reading knowledge of Spanish is a prerequisite for the course, since all texts, some of them very complex, are read in Spanish. Students are expected already to have a base in the study of Latin American literature. Those who have not, but who do have a good reading knowledge of Spanish, may still take the course, but would be expected to attend various lectures and seminars on Latin American literature to fill gaps in their knowledge. 

The module has a slightly different course structure depending on whether you take it from within the MPhil in Latin American Studies, or from within the MPhil in European Literature. If the former, then seminar will run for five weeks from week 2 of Michaelmas Term and the first five weeks of Lent Term. If the latter, then the Michaelmas Term seminars are optional, as your designated course runs in the Lent Term (January-March); you are welcome to attend some or all the Michaelmas Term seminars and indeed strongly encouraged to do so, especially if you have not previously studied much Latin American literature.

The course is taught by staff from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and the Centre of Latin American Studies, and is co-ordinated by Dr Rory O'Bryen. Teaching takes the form of open-discussion seminars at which students are expected to present short papers. Students are also encouraged to attend lectures on Latin American culture given by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese (for Latin American Literature and Contemporary Latin American Culture).