Module Identifier SP24020  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator Dr Maria D Blanco  
Semester Semester 1  
Pre-Requisite Eligibility for entry to Level 2  
Course delivery Lecture   Ten 1-hour lectures  
  Seminars / Tutorials   Ten 1-hour seminars to be conducted directly after lectures, on same day  
  Workload Breakdown   Lecture and seminar attendance - 20 hours; lecture and seminar preparation (research and reading) - 100 hours; essay research and preparation - 45 hours; text commentary research and preparation - 35 hours.  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Continuous assessment : Three 500-word papers20%
Semester Assessment Continuous assessment : One 1000-word paper30%
Semester Assessment Continuous assessment : One final essay (2500 words)40%
Semester Assessment Continuous assessment : Attendance and participation10%
Supplementary Exam 1 x 2 hour examination if continuous assessment submitted. 1 x 3 hour examination if no continuous assessment submitted.100%

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
1. Participate in debates about the local and transatlantic ramifications of a period of complete or partial post-coloniality in Spanish America;
2. Have a firm grasp of the intersections of history and narrative in Latin America during the 19th and 20th centuries;
3. Have familiarity with some of the most influential critical texts surrounding these issues;
4. Be comfortable in developing their own lines of inquiry about the topics at hand, under careful guidance;
5. Engage in oral discussions and (brief and extended) written exercises inspired by the issues raised throughout the module.


This module exposes students to some of the most representative narrative moments in the history of Latin American letters after the Wars of Independence of the 1820s. Looking at the work of practitioners like Domingo Sarmiento, Jose Marti, Ruben Dario, Jorge Luis Borges and Manuel Puig, it asks students in Level 2 to engage in debates centred around issues of cultural sovereignty and the aesthetics of self-representation in the wake of the extrication from the tutelage of Spanish empire.

Brief description

What happens after the colonising country is removed from the sphere of national self-definition? How do the republics of Spanish America, and the still-possessed islands of the Caribbean, envision the future of their self-representation after Independence in the 1820s? How do these issues manifest themselves on the level of language? In this module, students will be asked to critically engage texts ranging from the initial expressions of discovery to focus on the discourses of nation and narration in the 19th and 20th centuries. Two-hour class meetings (combining one hour of lecture and one of seminar discussion) organized around the rubric of ten (10) weekly 'themes' or units, will allow the students to analyse and discuss the historical, narrative, and aesthetic development of Spanish American expression until the late 20th century.


The module is structured around ten main themes:
1. Introduction: Discovery, 'Marvellous Possession' and the Path to Postcoloniality
2. Anxieties of Influence: The European Tradition and the Invention of Spanish American Language
3. Civilization and Barbarism: Domingo Sarmiento and Esteban Echeverria
4. The Literature of 'costumbrismo': Local colour and regional expression
5. Lettered Cities and the Urban Writers of the 'fin de siglo'
6. 'Modernismo' and Our America: Ruben Dario and Jose Marti
7. The 1920s and 1930s: 'Novelas de la tierra' and the reappraisal of regional literature
8. From Borges to the 'Boom': The mid-twentieth century
9. Magical Realism and its discontents: Alego Carpentier and Gabriel Garcia Marquez
10. The gendered subjectivities of Spanish America: Manuel Puig

Module Skills

Problem solving Selection of reading material; answering questions posed by written assignments; seminar work  
Research skills Research preparation of written assessments; search for appropriate material in journals and texts of fiction and non-fiction; preparation for seminars  
Communication Oral communication developed in seminars; written communication developed in series of papers  
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be able to assess their own progress week by week through their increased understanding of the issues raised and the skills developed, as well as through the continuous assessment of their writing and comprehension skills in the paper assignments  
Team work Debates and small-group discussions in seminars  
Information Technology Use of online journals and source collections; delivery of course materials and information via email and e-learning system  
Application of Number n/a  
Personal Development and Career planning Acquisition of transferable skills; in-depth acquaintance with the intersections of literature and history as a comparative academic subject  
Subject Specific Skills Acquisition of regional Spanish-American vocabularies from different countries  

Reading Lists

** Should Be Purchased
Borges, Jorge Luis (1997) Ficciones Madrid: Alianza Editorial
Cabrera Infante, Guillermo, Julio Cortázar and José Donoso (2006) Tierra marcada: Antología de cuentos latinoamericanos del siglo XX Madrid: Alfaguara
** Recommended Text
Dario, Rubén (1995) Azul... Cantos de vida y esperanza Madrid: Cátedra
Güiraldes, Ricardo (1978) Don Segundo Sombra Madrid: Cátedra
García Márquez, Gabriel (2006) La increíble y triste historia de la cándida Eréndira y de su abuela desalmada Madrid: Plaza y Janés
Martí, José (1995) Ensayos y crónicas Madrid: Cátedra
Puig, Manuel (2006) El beso de la mujer araña Barcelona: Seix Barral


This module is at CQFW Level 5