This course connects the reading and writing processes so that they are reciprocal and reinforcing. Every week we will alternate between reading a mosaic of U.S. American short fiction and analyzing the ways in which these narratives make their point, and practical writing exercises in order to build linguistic, literary and cultural skills. During the final month, you will workshop your own narratives, fiction or non-fiction, allowing you to give and receive feedback on the process and products of your practice. You will be expected to provide clear, thoughtful, constructive oral and written feedback on your peers' efforts too. The aim is to become a better critical reader by being attuned to how narratives work.
The post office, asserts the Chilean writer Jos Donoso, is a writer's true homeland. This assertion certainly describes the major novels of the Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Nobody Writes to the Colonel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Autumn of the Patriarch, A Crime Foretold, and Love in the Time of Cholera. Throughout his novels, letters constantly circulate. Anticipated letters are never written, although on demand letters can be purchased. If need be, there is special delivery to heaven. Even when delivered, some are never read. History is a dead letter, an inconvenient detail. Still, letters endlessly proliferate, foreshadowing textuality in the age of the world-wide web. By tracking their movement, the course will trace and sort GGM's imaginary postal system, explore how his technology addresses the lettered city, and investigate our capabilities and longings as navigators of ever-accumulating bodies of texts, traces, and signs.
The Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes has asserted that the real historians in Latin America are its novelists. We will examine this premise by reading a number of novels in which the protagonists go in search of their roots. Our interest is in how these novelists dramatize the history of their regions and countries, and how their fictional versions illuminate our understanding of the "real" history of the continent. Novels by Carpentier, Rulfo, Vargas Llosa , Arguedas, Ferre, Danticat, Saer, and Eltit are likely.
Given the importance of letters to the Latin American colonial enterprise and nation-building project, literature is a privileged site to think through contemporary rhetorics of modernity, decoloniality, and neoliberalism. We will begin with the critique of modernity by Borges and Cortazar and then turn to the fractures and shifts introduced by Rulfo, Garcia Marquez, Kincaid, and Eltit, as they confront the pressures of the marketplace and imagine alternative knowledges. We will explore implications for love, desire, aesthetic experience, and time in Lispector, Puig, and Lemebel. Alongside the above writers, we will read selections of the postmodern and postcolonial projects of Anzaldua, Fanon, Franco, Lugones, Mignolo, Rama, Richard, among others.
Contemporary Caribbean-U.S. Latino/a fictions portray authors and protagonists caught in a bind. They face the pressures of assimilation into mainstream American culture. On the other, they are all bound to a language other than American English and to memories of the lands of origin. Due to the proximity of these birthplaces (Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico) to New York, Miami, Chicago, protagonists and authors often idealize la familia as the source of identity and salvation. How are these predicaments resolved? What mechanisms of desire and denial are projected? How are origins re-inscribed? Will be some of the questions that guide our readings and discussions. Possible authors include Edward Rivera, Sandra Cisneros, Junot Diaz, Loida Maritza Perez, Rosario Ferre, Cristina Garcia, and Carlos Eire. This course satisfies the Division I distribution requirement.
What difference does it make to read Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's translation of Anna Karenina or Constance Garnett's? The King James Bible or the New English version? The fact that multiple translations exist implies that translation, like any form of writing, involves a series of choices. The goal of this course is to examine the possibilities translators face, the factors that motivate and influence their decisions, and the resulting effects of those decisions, so that you as translators can develop your language, literary and cultural skills. Readings dealing with the history and theory of the practice of translation and its political and ethical consequences will provide a framework for our discussions. Students will undertake a translation project in which they will produce an original translation and an analysis of the choices they faced. Course requirement: students must demonstrate at least intermediate proficiency in a language other than English.
This seminar focuses exclusively on the writings of the Argentine Jorge Luis Borges. Famous for his erudite "fictions" that speculate on time, history, knowledge, identity, reality, and the imagination, Borges taught us to think literature anew. He also delighted in spoofing erudition, in the conspiratorial wink against the purveyors of Culture. This playful side has its shadow, for much of his writings revolve around violence-iniquity, to cite one of his early titles. We will explore this duality of violence and pleasure selectively in his stories, poems, and essays. Students with a working knowledge of Argentine will be encouraged to read the original texts.
Recent narratives and films from Latin America have addressed and problematized the relationship between technology and human identity. This tutorial examines the ways in which cultural productions figure the encounter and interface between machine and organism in order to make sense of recent social and political realities. These texts provide glimpses of the human reality of most of Latin America, where "economies race ahead," but their human components are more or less forgotten. Possible authors include Puig, Borinsky, Piglia, Lemebel, Eltit, and Fuquet. Possible films include Intimo terror, Cronos, La teta asustada, XXY, and Juan de los muertos.
Associate Professor of Hispano Literature
Mail Code HA
Dakin House 203
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002