SPAN20250 Crime, Passion & Mystery in Latin American Noir

Academic Year 2020/2021

Detective fiction is an extremely popular genre whose basic template can adapt to a multitude of settings, plots and functions. This module will introduce students to contemporary Hispanic and Latin American detective fiction. The course will first explore the main features of the detective genre and its adaptation to the Spanish and Latin American context. It will provide an overview of the different forms and functions of the crime genre in the Hispanic world stressing its strong socio-political and cultural character. By focusing on a short selection of contemporary crime novels/films, from different Hispanic countries, the course will analyse how the genre and the authors engage with issues of identity, belonging and memory. The structure and plot of the novels/films will be analysed through different approaches in order to reveal their artistic value, to analyse the adaptation of the genre features, to identify the main common trends and to establish to what extent the genre engages with regional matters and global concerns.

The languages of teaching and learning will be both English and Spanish. The students could choose if they want to write the assignments in English or Spanish. The novels and films studied will be in Spanish.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

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

Identify and appreciate the main features of the detective genre and sub-genres
Demonstrate a general knowledge of the main features, characters, topics and themes of Hispanic detective genre.
Demonstrate an understanding of how literature, in general, and the detective genre, in particular, respond and adapt to different contexts and socio-cultural scenarios.
Demonstrate understanding of and ability to compare and judge critically a given selection of literary texts/films applying pertinent tools and techniques for the analysis of cultural products.
Demonstrate the ability to use adecuately secondary sources and bibliography to support their critical analysis of the selected cultural objects.
Demonstrate ability for critical thinking and cutural analysis

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning


Seminar (or Webinar)




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module includes: peer and group work; lectures; critical writing; student presentations.

As the learning objectives of seminars may be compromised by social distancing and the wearing of facemasks, all classes will take place online, and are scheduled according to the university timetable. Active participation in these classes is required. In addition to that, full engagement will material and tasks made accessible in Brightspace is expected every week. 
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
Group Project: Group Padlet on the first novel and film Week 6 n/a Graded No


Presentation: group video presentation on the first novel and film studied Week 8 n/a Graded No


Essay: A 1800 words essay on the texts/films studied Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring 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

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Primary works analysed
Padura Fuentes, Leonardo. Vientos de Cuaresma, Barcelona: Tusquets, 1994
Vientos de la Habana (dir. Félix Viscarret, 2016)
La isla mínima (dir. Alberto Rodríguez, 2014)
El secreto de sus ojos (dir.Juan José Campanella, 2009)

Critical readings on detective fiction
Arambaru, Diana, ‘Resisting Invisibility: detecting the female body in Spanish crime fiction”, University of Toronto Press, 2019.
Ascen Arriazu, Our man in Havana: introducing Leonardo Padura Fuentes and the quill of mystery, in “Three Monkeys Online magazine”, available at
Bradford, Richard. 2015. Crime fiction : a very short introduction.Oxford University Press
Battaglia, Diana “Ajiaco, Rum and Coffee: Food and Identity in Leonardo Padura's Detective Fiction” in Jean Anderson, Carolina Miranda, Barbara Pezzotti, 2018. Blood on the Table: Essays on Food in International Crime Fiction, McFarland, 99-112.
Battaglia, Diana “Havana Noir: Space and Memory in Leonardo Padura’s Mario Conde Detective Series” IN Charlotte Lange and Ailsa Peate, 2019. Crime Scenes. Latin American Crime Fiction from the 1960s to the 2010s, Peter Lang.
Braham, Persephone 2004. Crimes against the state, crimes against persons: detective fiction in Cuba and Mexico. University of Minnesota Press.
Bruccoli, Matthew J. and Richard Layman. 2002. Hardboiled mystery writers: Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ross Macdonald: a literary reference. Carroll & Graf Publishers.
Camporesi, Valeria & Jara Fernández Meneses (2018) “Making sense of genre: the ‘quality thriller’ as a vehicle to revise a controversial past in recent Spanish cinema”, Studies in European Cinema, 15:2-3, 198-214, DOI: 10.1080/17411548.2018.1442696
Close, Glen S. 2008. Contemporary Hispanic Crime Fiction. A Transatlantic Discourse of Urban Violence. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Close, Glen S. 2018. Female Corpses in Crime Fiction. A Transatlantic Perspective. Palgrave
Del Monte, Alberto. 1962, Breve historia de la novela policiaca, Madrid, Taurus.
Franken K. Clemens A. ‘Leonardo Padura Fuentes y su detective nostálgico’. Revista chilena de literatura, Abril 2009, Número 74, 29 – 56.
García Talaván, Paula. ‘Transgenericidad y cultura del desencanto: el neopolicial iberoamericano’. Letral. 7, 2011.
García Talaván, Paula. ‘Transgresión de un silencio obligado: la polifonía discursiva de Leonardo Padura’. KAMCHATKA Nº2. • Dic. 2013. •165-177
García Talaván, Paula. 2011. “La Habana, ciudad del desencanto en la narrativa de Padura Fuentes”. M. Font. CUBA FUTURES: ARTS AND CULTURE IN CONTEMPORARY CUBA. Bildner Center for Western Hemisphere Studies, 117-132
Godsland, Shelley and Jacqueline Collins. 2004. Latin American Detective Fiction: New Readings Manchester :Manchester Crime Fictions Research.
Martín Escribà, Àlex y Javier Sánchez Zapatero. ‘Una mirada al neopolicial latinoamericano: Mempo Giardinelli, Leonardo Padura y Paco Ignacio Taibo II’. Anales de Literatura Hispanoamericana, 2007, vol. 36, 49-58
Mempo Giardinelli. 2004."La novela negra en la América hispana", prologue to Lockhart,Darell. ed.,Latin American Detective Fiction Writers. London: Greenwood Press.
Messent, Peter B. 2013. The crime fiction handbook. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.
Most, Glenn W. and William W. Stowe eds. 1983. The Poetics of Murder: Detective Fiction and Literary Theory. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Nilsson, Louise , David Damrosch, and Theo D'Haen. 2017. Crime fiction as world literature. Bloomsbury Academic.
Nogueras, Luis Rogelio, 1982. Por la novela policial, La Habana, Ediciones Unión.
Noguerol, Francisca, 2006. “Neopolicial latinoamericano: el triunfo del asesino”, Ciberletras: Revista de crítica literaria y de cultura, Nº. 15.
Oakley, Helen. 2012. “Challenging the Cuban Revolutionary Crime Novel: Leonardo Padura Fuentes” in From Revolution to Migration: A Study of Contemporary Cuban and Cuban-American Crime Fiction. Oxford; New York: Peter Lang, 31-74.
Padura Fuentes, Leonardo. 1999. “Modernidad y postmodernidad: La novela policial en Iberoamérica”. Hispamérica, 12/1999, Volume 28, Issue 84.
Perilli Carmen, 2016. “Las Habanas de Mario Conde en Las cuatro estaciones de Leonardo Padura Fuentes”. Telar 17, 55-68.
Quinn, Kate. Marieke Krajenbrink, 2009. Investigating Identities: Questions of Identity in Contemporary international crime fiction. Amsterdam-New York: Rodopi.
Rocha, C., 2014. “El Secreto de sus Ojos: An Argentine Male Melodrama”. New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film, 12(1&2), pp. 3-15.
Rodríguez, Franklin. “The Bind Between Noepolicial and Antipolicial: The Exposure of Reality in Post-1980s Latin American Detective Fiction.” Ciberletras V 15, Julio 2006.
Scaggs, John, 2005. Crime fiction. Routledge.
Schmidt-Cruz, Cynthia, 2019. Argentina noir: new millennium crime novels in Buenos Aires. State University of New York Press
Simpson, Amelia S. 1990. Detective Fiction from Latin America, Toronto, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.
Song, H. Rosi. 2009. “Hard-Boiled for Hard Times in Leonardo Padura Fuentes's Detective Fiction”. Hispania, Vol. 92, N. 2, (May), pp. 234-243.
Tandeciarz, S. R., 2012. “Secrets, Trauma and the Memory Market (or the return of the repressed in recent Argentine post-dictatorship cultural production)”. Cinej Cinema Journal, Volume 1.2, pp. 62-71.
Uxó, Carlos, ed. 2006. The Detective Fiction of Leonardo Padura Fuentes. Manchester: Manchester Metropolitan University Press.
Wilkinson, Stephen, 2006. Detective Fiction in Cuban Society and Culture. Bern: Peter Lang AG.
Whittaker, Tom. 2018. “Crime, Knowledge and the Photographic Object in La isla minima”. Hispanic Research Journal, Vol. 19, no. 1, 41–54
Zamora, Alejandro and Mélissa Gélina. 2011. “Speeln, nostalgia and the revonstruction of human time in Leonardo Padura’s Las cuatro estaciones”. Opticon 1826, Issue 10, Spring 2011,1.

Web resources and interviews
Entrevista con Leonardo Padura, in “Havana-cultura”, leonardo-padura/cubano-escritor.html#1591
Leonardo Padura: Cuba's man of letters
Paco Ignacio Taibo II Cómo escribir una novela negra – conferencia, Carnaval de las artes de Barranquilla, Colombia, 13/2/2014
Sleuths, Spies & Sorcerers: Andrew Marr's Paperback Heroes (part 1: Detectives) (BBC series)
Name Role
Dr Mary Farrelly Lecturer / Co-Lecturer