At the time of the historic fall of the Berlin wall-a symbol of the collapse of the so called Socialist Bloc-Cuban cinema was going through a period of renovation and change. Practically born with the Revolution in 1959, in the 30 years that elapsed between both events, the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art, ICAIC developed an important film industry, and trained a seasoned crew of directors and technicians which allowed it to rank among the top film industries of Latin America. However in the last years of the 1980s, ICAIC was criticized for the uneven quality of its productions. As a result, new styles, themes, and approaches, albeit timid, began to be introduced. During the severe economic crisis of the 90s, known as the "Special Period," film production plummeted. As a result of budgetary cuts, the historical ICAIC newsreel was eliminated and there was a dramatic reduction in the production of documentaries. During the Special Period, ICAIC was forced to readjust its productions and began making co-productions as a way to preserve the national cinema. In these coproductions, new critical themes with fresh cinematic approaches flourished. As well given new technologies the 90s witnessed the beginning of a period of new cinematographic or audiovisual projects made outside ICAIC by young filmmakers who profit from new digital technologies to film their own ideas. In this course we will examine the polemic and diverse Cuban films made on the island after 1991, which for the first time were not solely produced by ICAIC. Among our main objectives: 1. Sociological: to examine how the Cuban films made in the 1990s-institutionally or privately--have reflected the changes on the island after the collapse of the Socialist Bloc. 2. Thematic: to present how Cuban films of the period addressed a wide spectrum of social conflicts and topics such as emigration, family issues, sexuality, existential problems, and the social crisis. 3. Stylistic: to analyze the diversity of styles and influences utilized by Cuban filmmakers. Cuban cinema is very diverse stylistically and has incorporated the most recent technologies, as well as new production, distribution and exhibition requirements.
The Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Arts (ICAIC), founded in March 1959, has not encouraged the presence of women filmmakers. It is worth mentioning how in recent Cuba history women's access to public space has been viewed as a revolution within the revolution, yet the film industry has reproduced the distribution of roles assigning women traditional occupations including makeup, wardrobe, performance and editing. The course will look at the causes for the poor representation of women filmmakers in Cuban cinema in order to document their access to this trade. Their films will, in turn, expose the visualization of gender themes and in doing so it will be possible to determine if there is indeed a woman's cinema with a woman's aesthetics and narrative discourse. The existence of a corpus of films made by women does not necessarily mean that there is a feminine perspective as many of these films have been made within a cinematographic canon based on a discriminatory construct. In order to understand the irruption of women directors on the island's cinema it is necessary to rethink that canon and widen the concept of Cuban cinema made outside ICAIC, and look at other production companies lacking perhaps in the industry skills but which have been equally instrumental in giving women access to filmmaking. Thus, the Estudios Filmicos of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) and Television have facilitated the entrance of some prominent women filmmakers to cinema. In addition, the course will analyze the representation of women characters in films as well as feminine-related topics in contemporary Cuban cinema. Despite their protagonist role, women's screen representation still reproduces gender stereotypes. The course will have three main objectives: 1. Sociological: to analyze the poor representation of women behind the cameras and the social issues addressed in their work. 2. Thematic: To examine the themes which define the cinema made by women filmmakers in Cuba as well as its most important discursive lines. 3. Stylistic: To study the dual nature of the cinematographic language as a mechanism to discuss gender issues while reproducing sexist discourses.
As the ability to communicate depends largely on a good understanding of the culture, the Spanish course attempts to enhance students understanding, respect and appreciation for the rich traditions and customs of Cuba. The course tries to build the students' ability of language use, especially at a colloquial level, as well as on topics of daily conversation and current interest such as social life, family, culture, art, race, gender etc. The combination of Spanish classes and daily exchange at the students' home stays helps to provide the kind of language interaction in a real life situation that will permit them to expand the vocabulary and grammar studied in class and to develop some comfort speaking the Spanish language. Classes will focus on analyzing written articles, increasing vocabulary and having conversation and discussion in Spanish on various topics. Speakers will be invited to talk about their work. Documentary films and videos will be shown. Students will occasionally visit museums, cultural sites and performances and conduct small investigations on a cultural and social topic.
This introductory course will immerse students in the multiple modernisms of the United States between the years 1910-45. We will traverse a range of literary genres (prose fiction, poetry, essay, drama, comics), movements (e.g., Imagism, the "New Negro" movement, literature of the Popular Front), and contexts (e.g., the Mexican Revolution, the World Wars, the Great Migration, the Great Depression). The goals of the course are 1) to familiarize students with both canonical and counter-canonical literary figures, trends, and texts; and 2) to practice skills of close reading and contextualized analysis. Authors will include Gertrude Stein, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Toomer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Carlos Williams, Claude McKay, Willa Cather, Sherwood Anderson, Eugene O'Neill, Tillie Olsen, William Faulkner, Marianne Moore, Hart Crane, Nella Larsen, John Dos Passos, Anzia Yezierska, John Steinbeck, Amrico Paredes, and Carlos Bulosan. Our main text will be The Heath Anthology of American Literature, 7th edition, Vol. D (1910-45). This course requires no previous coursework in literary studies or American studies. Students will complete a digital portfolio of short assignments and essays for the course.
How do we study a reality as complex and contested as that of Cuba? This course proposes an interdisciplinary approach that critically interrogates the available frameworks (geopolitical, historical, and cultural) for undertaking such a study. First, what images of Cuba-circulating in US popular and official culture-must we recognize and displace even to begin our study? What constructions of race, gender, and sexuality have defined the Cuban nation and Cuban transnationalism? In terms of the geopolitical, how do we locate Cuba as part of the Caribbean (with its history of plantation economies and slavery), as part of Latin America (linked by a shared history of Spanish conquest and the centripetal force of the Cuban Revolution), and as part of the African diaspora? How can Cuba be understood in relation to the U.S., as well as to other socialist or "post-socialist" countries, and to the exilic cultures and ideologies of Miami, "Cuba's second largest city"? In regards to historical periodization, how do different lenses (Spanish colonialism, the Cuban Revolution, the Cold War, the post-1989 period) shape an examination of Cuban history? Proceeding from the 19th century to the present, this course will engage with primary texts, historiography, literature, film, and music to examine Cuba within these multiple frameworks. Students will complete frequent short response essays and a substantial research paper. This course is recommended for 2nd and 3rd year students and will require approximately 8-10 hours of work outside of class per week.
This course presents a cultural history of United States literatures from the post-World War II period to the present. We will traverse a range of literary forms (prose, poetry, essay, drama, comics), trends (e.g., postmodernism, Black Arts), and periods (e.g., the Cold War, the Vietnam era, the post-9/11 period). The goals of the course are 1) to familiarize students with both canonical and counter-canonical literary figures, trends, and texts; and 2) to practice skills of close reading and contextualized analysis. Our main text will be The Heath Anthology of American Literature, 1945-present, a revisionist anthology that counters the traditional American literary canon by emphasizing multicultural inclusivity and historical contexts. Students will give an oral/visual presentation, submit to a weekly online forum, and write a series of short essays.
Assistant Professor of U.S. Literatures
Mail Code HU
Dakin Student Life Center 205
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002