SPAN20240 Latin American Culture I

Academic Year 2020/2021

This module analyses Latin America mainly from the perspective of the outside world, particularly from the viewpoint of Europe and North America. How has the continent been assessed and represented culturally, artistically and politically over the centuries since Spanish colonisation and how has this image been fed back to and to some degree internalised by Latin Americans themselves? To try to answer these questions, the module will analyse a diverse selection of cultural representations from the travellers’ tales of Columbus through Darwin and Von Humboldt and then onto cinematic portrayals of Latin America and Latin Americans in Hollywood using extracts from relevant films. The module’s focus will be wide ranging in the geographical area covered and the content. There is also a section analysing the US/Mexico 'borderlands' through Chicano experience which includes Chicanos’ own self-analysis through literary and political texts and artistic expression as well as outsiders' take on Chicanos. Finally, there is a section on the construction of icons in Latin America, both political and criminal looking at how these elements overlap. Walter Mignolo’s theory on the ‘invention’ of Latin America will help to frame the course.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

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

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
Identify and engage with cultural and political theories around the perception and representation of Latin America.
Put key ideas and concepts explored in the course into their wider historical context.
To analyse and interpret various cultural media such as film, journal entries, literature and art and link them to the course’s main themes.
To be able to think independently and creatively around the topics covered and to integrate critical viewpoints with your own.

Indicative Module Content:

This is subject to change but is an indicator of previous content:

Block 1: Theoretical approach outline and travellers' tales.

Week 1: Class 1: Introduction and the ‘Invention’ of Latin America, Readings taken from Mignolo (2005), The Monroe Doctrine (on Brightspace).
Class 2: Comment on readings.

Week 2 Class 1: Travellers’ Tales: Columbus, von Humboldt, Darwin, Palin.
Class 2: Discussion of readings on above (on Brightspace).

Week 3, Block 2: Latin Hollywood.
Class 1: Latin Hollywood and the Good Neighbour Policy
Class 2: Readings of excerpts of documents: The Hays Code (Brightspace).
Week 4 Class 1: Latin Hollywood to the present
Class 2: Analysis of clips from 'Down Argentine Way' (1940), 'The Good, The Bad and the Ugly'(1966).
Reading of Swanson, ‘Remember the Alamo’ and ‘Going down on Good Neighbours’ (Brightspace). Watch: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly online.
Week 5: Class 1: Imagining Latin America on screen: 'West Side Story' (1961), 'Havana' (1990), 'Up' (2009). Class 2: Revisioning Latin America on screen in contemporary Latin music: Juan Luis Guerra: 'Tus besos' (2018) and Mon Laferte 'Que se sepa nuestra amor' (2020).

Week 6: Block 3: Borderlands.
Class 1: Borderlands: Mexican-American perspectives. Luís Alberto Urrea and Gloria Anzaldúa: excerpts from the texts 'Borderlands, La Frontera' (1987) and 'The Devil’s Highway' (2004) (Brightspace).
Class 2: A recent North American literary interpretation of the border, 'American Dirt' (2019) by Jeanine Cummins. This class will take the form of an discussion forum which will be set up in advance and which every student will contribute to in the class hour online. Further instructions will be given in due course.
Week 7: Class 1: Chicanos in the USA. Chicano self-representation: art and activism.
Class 2: Read: Chicano Art chapter (Brightspace)and introduction to 'Our Lady of Controversy: Alma López's Irreverent Apparition' (link provided on BS).
Class 2: Group presentations.

Two-week study break: no classes

Week 8. Reading week: no classes

Week 9: Block 4: Icons.
Class 1: Icons: what makes an icon and why are we drawn to Latin American icons: political, sporting, criminal and religious? Read: 1) ‘Evita: The Globalisation of a National Myth’ by Marta Savigliano.
Class 2: No class: Good Friday
Week 10, Class 1: An Argentine Icon: Maradona. Discussion and debate.
Class 2: Group Presentations.
Week 11, Class 1: The cult of the narcos and their representation: narco-corridos, social media, print media. Discussion of episodes from 'Narcos'. Read: Pizarra, ‘Screening Latin American-ness’ (BSpace)
Class 2: Group Presentations.
Week 12: Class 1: Group presentations and essay preparation workshop.
Class 2: Group presentations.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning






Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Blended learning. While there will be some lectures, there will also be a strong component of student-facing learning, with class discussions, quizzes and group presentations. The summative assessment will encourage students to apply their learning on a particular topic relating to Latin American representations. This could be a topic explored in class or something independent of that but based around the theme of foreign and domestic perceptions of Latin America. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: An essay on a subject different to the presentation but relevant to the module will be assessed at the end of the course. Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Group Project: A synchronous group presentation will take place mid-semester with peer feedback given afterwards. Throughout the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Peer review in class, group feedback given and essay feedback given.

Please get a copy of 'American Dirt' by Jeannine Cummins (2019) Tinder Press. Extracts will be provided but it is much better to have a copy of the book t participate in the debate.

Secondary Reading:

Beverley, John, Michael Aronna and José Oviedo (Eds). The Postmodernism Debate in
Latin America. London: Duke University Press, 1995.
Chasteen, John Charles and Sara Castro-Klarén. Eds. Beyond Imagined Communities:
Reading and Writing the Nation in Nineteenth-Century Latin America. Washington:
John Hopkins University Press, 2003.
Ferman, Claudia (ed.). The postmodern in Latin and Latino American cultural narratives : collected essays and interviews
Figueredo, D. H. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Latino History and Culture. Indianapolis:
Alpha Books, 2002.
Ramírez, Luz Elena. British Representations of Latin America
Read, Justin. Modern poetics and hemispheric American cultural studies, Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
Beardsell, Peter. Europe and Latin America: Returning the Gaze
Cummins, John. The Voyage of Christopher Columbus. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson,
Docker, John. 1492: The Poetics of Diaspora. London; New York: Continuum, 2001.
Palin, Michael. Full Circle. London: BBC, 1997.
Peñaloza, Fernanda, Wilson, Jason and Canaparo, Claudio (eds.). Patagonia : myths and realities, Oxford ; New York : Peter Lang, c2010
Bellos, Alex. Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life. London: Bloomsbury, 2003.
Galeano, Eduardo, Football in Sun and Shadow. Trans. Mark Fried. London: Fourth Estate,
McGowan, Chris. The Brazilian sound : samba, bossa nova, and the popular music of Brazil, Philadelphia : Temple University Press, 1998.
Root Regina A. Ed. The Latin American Fashion Reader Oxford: Berg, 2005.
Rowe, William and Vivian Schelling. Memory and Modernity. Popular Culture in Latin America. London, Verso, 1991.
Taylor, Chris. The Beautiful Game: A Journey Through Latin American Football. London, Latin America Bureau, 1998.
Wade, Peter. Music, race & nation: 'música tropical' in Colombia, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
Waxer, Lise. Situating Salsa: Global Markets and Local Meanings in Latin Popular Music.
London: Routledge, 2002.
Wood, David and Johnson, Louise (eds.). Sporting cultures : Hispanic perspectives on sport, text and the body, London : Routledge, 2008.
Alarcón, Daniel. The Aztec Palimpsest: Mexico in the Modern Imagination. University of
Arizona Press, 1997.
Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands/La frontera. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Press
Boyle, T. C. The Tortilla Curtain New York: Bloomsbury, 1996.
Cisneros, Sandra. Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories. Random House, 1991.
Keating, Analouise. Entre Mundos/Among Worlds: New Perspectives on Gloria Anzaldúa
Keating, Analouise. Women Reading Women Writing: Self-Invention in Paula Gunn Allen,
Gloria Anzaldúa, and Audre Lorde. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1996.
Luis, William. Dance Between Two Cultures: Latino Caribbean Literature written in the
United States.
Pérez Emma. The Decolonial Imaginary: Writing Chicanas into History. Bloomington, Ind.:
Indiana University Press, c1999. (electronic resource).
Pérez-Firmat, Gustavo. Next Year in Cuba: A Cubano's Coming-Of-Age in America. Houston:
Arte Público Press, 2005.
Trujillo, Carla. Living Chicana Theory. Berkeley: Third Woman Press, 1998.
Urrea, Luís Alberto. Across the Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border. Anchor
Books, 1993.
Urrea, Luís Alberto. The Devil’s Highway: A True Story. Little, Brown and Company, 2006.
Borge, Jason. Latin American Writers and the Rise of Hollywood Cinema. Routledge, 2008.
Boyd, Susan. Hooked: Drug War Films in Britain, Canada, and the United States. New York:
Routledge, 2008.
Hadley-Garcia, George. Hispanic Hollywood: The Latins in Motion Pictures.New York:
Carol Pub. Group, 1990.
Stevens, Donald F. Based on a True Story: Latin American History at the Movies.
Wilmington, Del.: SR Books, (1997).
Thomas, Victoria. Hollywood’s Latin Lovers: Latino, Italian, and French Men Who Make the
Screen Smoulder. Santa Monica: Angel City Press, (1998).
Ortiz Fernández, Fernando. Cuban Counterpoint: Tobacco and Sugar. New York: Vintage
Books, 1970.
Anderson, Jon Lee. Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life. New York: Grove Press, 1997.
Brunk, Samuel and Ben Fallow (eds). Heroes and Hero Cults in Latin America. Austin:
University of Texas Press, 2006.
Butterfield Ryan, Henry. The Fall of Che Guevara: A Story of Soldiers, Spies and Diplomats.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Dujovne Ortiz, Alicia. Eva Perón. Trans Shawn Fields. London: Warner, 1997.
Guevara, Ernesto ‘Che’. Diarios de motocicleta. Melbourne: Ocean Press, 2003.
Hooks, Margaret. Frida Kahlo. Portraits of an Icon. London: Bloomsbury, 2003.
Lindauer, Margaret A. Devouring Frida: The Art History and Popular Celebrity of Frida
Kahlo. London: University Press of New England, 1999.
Perón, Eva. La razón de mi vida. Buenos Aires: Peuser, 1951.
Baddeley, Oriana. Drawing the line: art and cultural identity in contemporary Latin America,
Benson. Elizabeth P. [et al.]. Retratos: 2,000 years of Latin American portraits, New Haven, Conn. ; London : Yale University Press, 2005
Craven, David. The new concept of art and popular culture in Nicaragua since the revolution in 1979, Lewiston, N.Y. ; Lampeter : E.Mellen, 1989.
Hedrick, Tace. Mestizo modernisms: race, nation, and identity in Latin American culture, 1900-1940, New Brunswick, N.J. ; London : Rutgers University Press, 2003.
Ramírez, Mari Carmen. Inverted utopias: avant-garde art in Latin America, New Haven; London : Yale University Press, 2004.