SPAN 485 A: Desmadre Patria: Latin American Myth In Film And Literature

Course Flyer: 
Meeting Time: 
MW 9:30am - 11:20am
Location: 
EEB 025
SLN: 
21635
Instructor:
Samuel Jaffee

Syllabus Description:

This seminar studies a selection of provocative, intractable feature-length films from Mexico, Cuba, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, and Brazil, from the 1960s to the 2000s, and accompanying literary, theoretical, historical, and critical readings. Many of these visual and written texts are landmarks in their respective national canons for the ways they address ongoing preoccupations in their national consciousness, and at the same time question the ideas of canon and nationhood (which are themselves mythical). In our readings and viewings, we will interrogate such preoccupations, including that of civilization and barbarism (Argentina), disenchantment and reinterpretation of religion and revolution (Mexico), urban migration and growing pains (the Andes), the idea of a shared identity as patria (Cuba), and racial fetish and stereotype in an ostensibly post-racial land (Brazil). We will begin with a time- and space-defying road trip through southern Mexico, and will see that personal growth cannot escape the specters of the national past. We will end with a Chinese director’s view of the tango-like rhythms of migrant life in Buenos Aires to ask if things are any different at the other end of the hemisphere. Along the way, through the eyes of filmmakers and authors with a variety of political, social, and artistic concerns, you will be exposed to the footprints of colonialism, political extremism, European avant-gardism, a strained desire for modernity, and the recurrence of the abject (that which we simultaneously deride and desire, that which repels and appeals, whether in sexual, racial, or economic terms). Through contextual readings, including manifestos, and a study of national film industries, we will understand how Latin American film differs inherently from that of Hollywood. We will come to an understanding of how, in different historical moments and locations, Latin Americans enact the ideas (and ideals) of nation, class, race, gender, and “Latin America” itself. At the same time, we will question whether this individual performance of a collective Latin Americanism is an impossibility in a postcolonial time and space. In other words: Where has Latin America been, where is it going, who wants to take it there, and who is able to do so?

 

Class activities include discussions, group work, written responses, debates, and visual, literary, and musical analysis. Informal writing assignments will help students organize, express, and communicate reactions to works studied, and will help structure in-class discussions. Essay writing projects will help students develop skill in literary and visual analysis (thematic, critical, and formal) and thesis-based arguments. Class discussions and moderation will enhance students’ speaking skills and their ability to organize and communicate information to fellow Spanish learners. A natural result of our study of the course topics will be to establish useful and profound comparisons and contrasts between different ways of life that will bring us into critical engagement with the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world and, ideally, increase our capacity to consider and interrogate general humanistic themes. Accordingly, in course assignments students will be encouraged to make connections between the problems discussed and their individual academic and professional goals and personal interests.

Additional Details:

This seminar studies a selection of provocative, intractable feature-length films from Mexico, Cuba, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, and Brazil, from the 1960s to the 2000s, and accompanying literary, theoretical, historical, and critical readings.  Many of these visual and written texts are landmarks in their respective national canons for the ways they address ongoing preoccupations in their national consciousness, and at the same time question the ideas of canon and nationhood (which are themselves mythical).

In our readings and viewings, we will interrogate such preoccupations, including that of civilization and barbarism (Argentina), disenchantment and reinterpretation of religion and revolution (Mexico), urban migration and growing pains (the Andes), the idea of a shared identity as patria (Cuba), and racial fetish and stereotype in an ostensibly post-racial land (Brazil).  We will begin with a time- and space-defying road trip through southern Mexico, and will see that personal growth cannot escape the specters of the national past.  We will end with a Chinese director’s view of the tango-like rhythms of migrant life in Buenos Aires to ask if things are any different at the other end of the hemisphere.

Along the way, through the eyes of filmmakers and authors with a variety of political, social, and artistic concerns, you will be exposed to the footprints of colonialism, political extremism, European avant-gardism, a strained desire for modernity, and the recurrence of the abject (that which we simultaneously deride and desire, that which repels and appeals, whether in sexual, racial, or economic terms).  Through contextual readings, including manifestos, and a study of national film industries, we will understand how Latin American film differs inherently from that of Hollywood.  We will come to an understanding of how, in different historical moments and locations, Latin Americans enact the ideas (and ideals) of nation, class, race, gender, and “Latin America” itself.  At the same time, we will question whether this individual performance of a collective Latin Americanism is an impossibility in a postcolonial time and space.  In other words: Where has Latin America been, where is it going, who wants to take it there, and who is able to do so?

Catalog Description: 
Reviews films from Mexico, Cuba, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, and Brazil (1960's to the 2000's), and literary, theoretical, historical, and critical readings on ongoing preoccupations in national consciousness. Topics of study include: civilization and barbarism; religion and revolution; urban migration; the idea of a shared identity as patria; and racial fetish and stereotype. Prerequisite: either SPAN 303 or SPAN 316; SPAN 321.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
October 17, 2016 - 12:52pm