Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture Ten 1-hour lectures
Seminars / Tutorials Ten 1-hour seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,500-word essay  25%
Semester Assessment 2 individual oral presentations (15-20 mins) on topic of students choice  75%
Supplementary Assessment Essay on a topic different to 3,500-word essay to be resubmitted if failed (=75%), or if c/a is failed because of failure of oral component only, a piece of written work (1,500 words on different topic) is to be submitted in lieu of oral work (=25%) 

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate a critical understanding of a range of twentieth-century Latin American examples of the literary fantastic and of the debates in which they intervene;

Demonstrate awareness of the intersections of history and narrative in a geocultural context;

Demonstrate an engagement with relevant critical/theoretical texts and debates;

Synthesise detailed textual analysis, conceptual/theoretical discussion, and culturally informed debate in a written assignment and oral presentation;

Express themselves clearly, coherently and in a logical fashion, both orally and in writing.


This M.A. module focuses on the study of fantastic literature in Spanish-American narratives. Closely exploring the work of practitioners from Christopher Columbus to modern-day 'magical realists' such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the module discussions revolve around issues of genre, form, culture and difference.

Brief description

What is the meaning and use of the 'fantastic' in literature? What does the fantastic do to a story or novel that a 'realistic' account cannot perform? How has the genre/mode/form of the fantastic come to be entwined with a geopolitical and multicultural conception of Latin America and the 'Third World' in general? This module closely explores these broad issues while focusing on the specific case of Latin American fiction. Students will study key theoretical texts on genre and the fantastic, the 'marvelous real' and 'magical realism', while simultaneously analyzing exemplary works of fiction.


The module will examine a range of key literary texts produced in the twentieth century in Latin America that engage with the themes, styles and politics of the fantastic genre. Through close textual analysis, students will explore the history of a literature of marvel and wonder, then to focus on a range of movements that took place in Latin America in the 20th century that tackled the debates surrounding the representation of reality in fiction. This will be supplemented by close analysis of the theories of the fantastic that have emerged throughout the century. The module is structured around five main themes:
1. Senses of Discovery and Wonder: Mundonovismo and the legacies of the encounter between Old and New worlds (Readings from secondary bibliography, see below: Gonzalez Echevarria, Moreiras, Greenblatt: 2 lectures, 2 seminars)
2. Transcontinental Modern Theories of the Fantastic: Tzvetan Todorov and Jorge Luis Borges in conversation (Readings: Todorov's The Fantastic, Borges, Discusion; 2 lectures, 2 seminars)
3. The Rio de la Plata Fantastics: Ocampo, Bioy Casares and Arlt (Readings: Borges, Ocampo, Bioy Casares, Antologia de literatura fantastica & Arlt, Los siete locos; 2 lectures, 2 seminars)
4. The Avant-Garde and Latin American Transgressions of Reality: Alejo Carpentier (Readings: Tientos y diferencias, El reino de este mundo, Los pasos perdidos; 2 lectures, 2 seminars)
5. Geopolitical Maps of Genre: Garcia Marquez and the Magical Real reading of the 'Third' World (Reading: Cien anos de soledad & articles from Faris & Zamora. Magical Realism; 2 lectures, 2 seminars)

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number n/a
Communication Participation in seminars and writing of essay will require students to express their ideas clearly, cogently and coherently.
Improving own Learning and Performance Independent preparation for essays and seminars; independent research for essays and seminars
Information Technology Use of online journals and source collections; delivery of course materials and information via email and e-learning system.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will be required to manage their own time effectively and to engage in independent lines of research in preparing their essays.
Problem solving Selecting appropriate reading material; developing evaluative analysis and critical skills and formulating a detailed argument.
Research skills Relating literary texts to cultural and theoretical contexts and synthesising information in an evaluative argument; search for appropriate material in journals and texts of fiction and non-fiction; preparation for seminars.
Subject Specific Skills Detailed critical/theoretical analysis of literary texts and evaluation of broad intellectual concepts; exposure to regional expressions from literature of different Hispanic linguistic contexts.
Team work This will apply in the seminars.

Reading List

Essential Reading
A module handbook including a full bibliography divided into topics will be distributed at the beginning of the course. The primary works of fiction will be the following essential reading: Primo search Arlt, Roberto (1929) Los siete locos Primo search Bioy Casares, Adolfo (1941) La invención de Morel Primo search Borges, Jorge Luis (1944) Ficciones Primo search Borges, Jorge Luis, Adolfo Bioy Casares & Silvina Ocampo (1940) Antología de la literature fantástica Primo search Carpentier, Alejo (1949) El reino de este mundo Primo search Carpentier, Alejo (1953) Los pasos perdidos Primo search García Márquez, Gabriel (1967) Cien añon de soledad Primo search
Recommended Text
Borges, Jorge Luis (1977 [1932]) Discusión Madrid: Biblioteca Borges / Alianza Editorial Primo search Carpentier, Alejo (1964) Tientos y diferencias Mexico D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Primo search González-Echevarría, Roberto (1990 [1977]) Alejo Carpentier: The Pilgrim at Home Austin: University of Texas Press Primo search Greenblatt, Stephen (1991) Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World Chicago: University of Chicago Press Primo search Jameson, Fredric (1986) "Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism" Social Text 15, pp 65-88 Primo search Moreiras, Alberto (2001) The Exhaustion of Difference: The Politics of Latin American Cultural Studies Durham: Duke University Press Primo search Pratt, Mary Louise (1992) Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation New York: Routledge Primo search Saldívar, José David (1991) The Dialectics of Our America: Genealogy, Cultural Critique, and Literary History Durham: Duke University Press Primo search Todorov, Tzvetan (1975 [1970]) The Fantastic: A Structuralist Approach to a Literary Genre Translated by Richard Howard Ithaca: Cornell University Press Primo search Zamora, Lois Parkinson and Wendy B. Faris (eds) (2000 [1995]) Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community Durham: Duke University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 7