Identity in the Spanish Speaking World
About this Module
This module is open to students taking Spanish Language 1A and involves the study of constructions of identity in the Spanish-speaking world, paying particular attention to representations of race, gender, sexuality, exile, and nationality in representative samples of Spanish and Latin American cultural production. Classes, which will be given in English, will look not simply at literature in its traditional sense (novels, short stories, poetry, drama, and so on), but filmic, artistic, and even musical representations. These will be used to build an understanding of identity in the Spanish-speaking world, focusing specifically on the extent of variation between different countries, periods, and cultural forms. By taking the course students will gain an understanding not just of the ways in which the self is constructed and represented (particularly in relation to broader conceptions of identity), but how the Spanish-speaking world is characterized by a series of distinct and individual conceptions of selfhood that differ subtly but significantly from one another. The course will cover important literary and visual material from eight different countries in the Hispanic world, including poetry by Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz or Eugenio Montejo and the paintings of Frida Kahlo.
Students are advised that some of the films studied contain scenes that deal with matters of a violent or sexual nature in an explicit way.
Teaching and Learning
You are required to attend one lecture per week and a fortnightly seminar conducted in smaller groups. Classes are in English. Attendance will be monitored in all classes. The module is capped at 90 places.
- 2000-word essay (50%) based on the texts studied in the Michaelmas Term
- 2-hour written examination (50%) based on the texts studied in the Epiphany Term
Weeks 1 - 3: Ethnicity and difference in colonial Latin America.
- Columbus: Journal of the First Voyage and the Letter to Santángel
- Díaz del Castillo, True History of the Conquest of New Spain; Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, Royal Commentaries
- Selection of casta paintings and related scholarly articles
Weeks 4-6: Paradigms of Latin American Identity: Civilisation and Barbarism
- Facundo: civilización y barbarie
- Ariel, Rodó
- Calibán, Fernández Retamar
Weeks 7-10: 'Dos Españas': crisis and polarization of identity in Spain (1890s-1930s)
- Selected poems by Antonio Machado
- Propaganda posters from the civil war
- Extracts from Catecismo patrótico español by Menéndez Reigada
Weeks 1 - 3: Pablo Neruda
This section will look at how issues of identity (personal, poetic, national, continental, human) are worked through in the poetry of arguable the greatest poet to emerge from Latin America.
- A selection of Neruda's poetry will be made available in a booklet. This will comprise poems drawn from the collections: Crepusculario (1923), Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada (1924), Residencia en la tierra (1935), Tercera residencia (1947), and Canto general (1950).
Weeks 4-6: Frida Kahlo
This section will seek to read Frida Kaho's paintings within their cultural, social and political context. We will begin with an overview of the Mexican Revolution (Kahlo falsely claimed the year of the outbreak of the revolution, 1910, as the year of her birth). We will then move on to outlining the importance of muralismo in post-revolutionary Mexico. In the second lecture, we will examine the trend to read her work "biographically" and discuss some of the reasons behind it. We will move on to examine the way in Kahlo’s paintings help to construct a post revolutionary mexicanidad, with a clear emphasis on pre-Columbian cultures and cultural mestizaje. In the last lecture, we will explore the way in which Kahlo’s self-portraits construct an icon that 'performs' not only mexicanidad, but also transgressive attitudes towards gender.
- A selection of Kahlo's paintings will be made available on DUO.
Weeks 7-10: Ana Mendieta & Tomás Sánchez
Place-bound Identities: Cuban Art from Ana Mendieta to Tomás Sánchez
The last three lectures in the Identity module explore how contemporary art practices in Cuba have developed discourses on the relationship between bodies, landscapes, and environmental degradation. Two influential artists, Ana Mendieta and Tomás Sánchez, provide a range of esthetic and political engagements with cultural constructions of space and place, the fragile human and animal body, and global environmental concerns.
- Selections of visual works by Mendieta and Sánchez will be available on DUO.
Michaelmas term: Dr Yari Perez Marin [firstname.lastname@example.org], Room A22, Elvet Riverside I
Epiphany and Easter term: Dr Francisco Hernández Adrián [email@example.com], Room A27, Elvet Riverside I