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Key Issues and Texts: Power and Conflict in Latin American Literature (LT 2020)

Key texts are listed for each seminar. You will be expected to have studied all primary texts set for each seminar, together with some of the secondary reading suggested in the bibliographies. Links are given in the bibliographies to online articles, and some additional material is available as PDFs to download from Moodle.

Some key issues relating to each seminar are identified – you may wish to focus on one or more of these in a seminar paper or an essay.

Seminar 1: The Popul Vuh and Indigenismo (GK) 

Key texts

  • Popul Vuh
  • Rosario Castellanos​, Balún Canán
  • Guaman Poma de Ayala, El primer nueva corónica [sic] y buen gobierno

(See the bibliography for online versions of some texts)

Key issues

  • status of the ‘book’
  • concepts of writing (and the khipu) and literature
  • literature and representation of ‘race’
  • autochthony and alterity
  • the mediation of culture
  • belletristic traditions
  • symbolization and the sacred
  • the imbrication of gender and ‘race’
  • 'spectral testification'

Bibliography
 

Seminar 2: Republicanism and Subalternity in Nineteenth-Century Colombian Literature (RO) 

Key texts

  • María (Jorge Isaacs, 1867)
  • Cantos populares de mi tierra (Candelario Obeso, 1877)

Key issues

  • Foundational fictions and nation building
  • Myths of racial harmony and practices of racial exclusion
  • 'poesía negra' v. 'poesía negrista'
  • Republicanism and cosmopolitanism 1850-1876
  • The aestheticization of politics
  • The Colombian lettered city: writing and politics
  • Geography and 'race'

Bibliography
 

Seminar 3: Writing and Revolt (MC) 

Key texts

  • Euclides da Cunha, Os Sertões (1902) (London: Penguin, 2010 trans. of Os Sertões. Campanha de Canudos)

Key issues

  • Representation of interethnic conflict
  • Resistance and power in textual practice
  • Internal borders and invisible geographies
  • Gender, indigeneity and fictionality in crisis
  • The testimonial and the vernacular
  • Hegemonic state and peripheries

Bibliography

 

Seminar 4: Dictatorship and Dissent (BE)

Key texts

  • Reinaldo Arenas, Arturo la estrella más distante
  • Luisa Valenzuela, Cambio de armas

Key issues

  • Heteronormativity and state power
  • Feminist and queer hermeneutics
  • Violence and aesthetic experimentation
  • Memory, fantasy, history
  • Oppression and resistance
  • Alienation and the challenges of solidarity
  • Pain, pleasure and the body
  • The prison-house of desire

 

Seminar 5: Revisiting Conquest (BE)

Key texts

  • Juan José Saer, El entenado
  • Montaigne, 'Des Cannibales' ('Of Cannibals'), from the Essais

Key issues

  • Colonialism and cannibalism
  • Survival, salvation and second chances
  • Exoticism, exploration and the limits of knowledge
  • Historiography, fictionality and teratology, or the monstrosity of representation
  • Testimony, evidence, retrospection and "second sight"
  • Communication, consumption and other (un)common anxieties
  • Orphanage, adoption and the "nature" of social attachment

 

Seminar 6: Central American fiction after testimonio (RO) 

Key texts

  • Rodrigo Rey Rosa (Guatemala): Lo que soñó Sebastián (1995), Que me maten si… (1997)
  • Horacio Castellanos Moya (El Salvador): Insensatez (2004), El arma en el hombre (2001)

Key issues

  • Testimonio and its legacies
  • Unfinished memory/truth and reconciliation
  • Crime/social breakdown
  • Paranoia/foreclosure
  • War and capital

Bibliography