SPAN30220 Identity, Sex & Sexuality in Post-Revolutionary Cuban Culture

Academic Year 2020/2021

This module explores issues of identity, gender, sex and sexuality in post- revolutionary Cuba, through the analysis of different cultural objects: novels, films, poetry. These cultural artefacts will be read in the context of contemporary Cuban history and culture, drawing connection with national and international political events. Thus, positing sex and sexuality as the focal point, the module will engage with key concepts such as national identity, race and cultural hegemony. The module encourages students to compare different cultural objects, through a variety of genre and media, in order to establish conceptual links and recognise the main features of contemporary Cuban cultural production.

NB: The course will be taught in Spanish. Students could decide if they want to write the assignments either in Spanish or in English.
Students at level 3 should familiarize themselves with the cultural production of the countries they study and in the language they study. The course, thus, integrates as part of the learning process the cultural content, the language skills and cultural awareness. Students will have the possibility to be exposed and appreciate the Cuban variety of Spanish language.

Show/hide contentOpenClose All

Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
• Discuss issues of gender, subjectivity and marginality and contextualise them in the contemporary Cuban scenario.
• Demonstrate general knowledge of post-revolutionary Cuban culture
• Recognise the main trends, topics and themes of contemporary Cuban cultural production (particularly in relation to issues of sex, sexuality, gender and identity definition).
• Demonstrate confidence in applying pertinent historical and socio-political information to their analysis of cultural products and understand how literature and cinema respond to social change in Cuba.
• Demonstrate understanding of and ability to compare and judge critically a given selection of literary texts and films, applying pertinent tools and techniques for the analysis of literature and cinema.
• Demonstrate familiarity with the main critical theories and concepts related to gender issues
• Demonstrate the ability to use pertinently appropriate secondary sources and bibliography in the analysis of the selected cultural objects.
• Demonstrate knowledge and good use of referencing ad quoting conventions for literary and film criticism
• Demonstrate critical thinking , originality and analytical skills applied to the analysis of cultural objects.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Group work and group assignments; submission of group close reading and commentary . Lectures, seminars and open class discussions; open class text-commentary;

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. Students are required to participate actively in class, and to work autonomously outside the classroom. Full engagement with material and tasks made accessible in Brightspace is expected every week. The course involves a substantial amount of preparation, reading and analysis of texts that the students need to do autonomously at home in order to come to class prepared for the discussion.

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: A 2000 word max comparative essay on the primary texts/films and topcis discussed in class Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Assignment: Close reading and group commentary on extracts from one of the primary texts/films allocated for the first 5 weeks (1500 words) Week 7 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 texts
• Conducta impropia (dir.Néstor Almendros y Orlando Jiménez-Leal, 1984) (film/documentary)
• Senel Paz, El lobo, el bosque y el hombre nuevo, (México City: Era, 1991) (short story).
• Fresa y chocolate (dir.Tomás Gutiérrez AleayJuan Carlos Tabío, 1993)
• Zoé Valdés, La nada cotidiana.(Barcelona: Emecé, 1995)
• Cosas que dejé en la Habana (dir. GutieŕrezAragoń, Manuel; Herrero, Gerardo; Paz, Senel, 2001)

Reading list
Baron, Guy. 2011. Gender in Cuban cinema: from the modern to the postmodern. Oxford; New York: Peter Lang.
Behar, Ruth and Lucía M. Suâarez . 2008. The portable island : Cubans at home in the world.
Behar, Sonia. 2009. La caída del hombre nuevo: narrativa cubana del período especial, New York: Peter Lang.
Bejel, Emilio. “Antes que anochezca: autobiografía de un disidente cubano homosexual” Hispamérica, 25, N. 74 (Aug., 1996), pp. 29-45.
Bejel, Emilio. 2001. Gay Cuban Nation.Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press.
Braham, Persephone.2004. “Masking, Unmasking, and the Return to Signification”. Crimes Against the State, Crimes Against Persons: Detective Fiction in Cuba and Mexico.Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp.39-64.
Butler, Judith. 1988. “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory”. Theatre Journal, Vol. 40, N. 4, pp. 519-531.
Candía Cáceres, Alexis. 2007. “Trilogía sucia de La Habana: Descarnado viaje por el anteparaíso” Revista Iberoamericana, Vol. LXXIII, Núm. 218, enero-marzo 2007, 51-67
Castro, Fidel. 1961. Palabras a los intelectuales,
Castro, Fidel. 1971. Discurso pronunciado en la clausura del Primer Congreso Nacionalde Educación y Cultura.
Davies, Catherine. 1997. A Place in the Sun? Women Writers in Twentieth-Century Cuba, London: Zed Books Ltd.
De Ferrari, Guillermina. 2003. “AestheticsunderSiege: DirtyRealism and Pedro Juan Gutiérrez's 'Trilogía sucia de La Habana'”. Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies, Vol. 7, p. 23-43.
De Ferrari, Guillermina. 2007. “Embargoed Masculinities: Loyalty, Friendship and the Role of the Intellectual in the PostSoviet Cuban Novel”. Latin American Literary Review, Vol. 35, No. 69 (Jan. - Jun., 2007), pp. 82-103.
Epps, Brad. 1995. “Proper Conduct: Reinaldo Arenas, Fidel Castro, and the Politics of Homosexuality”. Journal of the History of Sexuality, Vol. 6, N. 2, pp. 231-28.
Fernández, Manuel. 2002. "La figura del mimo en Máscaras de Leonardo Padura Fuentes".;jsessionid=F6AA4F4562FA0B260D15A694C960CF45.dialnet01?codigo=267235 fernandez.html
Fornet, Jorge, 2003. “La Narrativa Cubana entre la Utopía y el Desencanto”. Hispamérica: Revista de literatura, N. 95, pp. 3-20.
Foster, David William. 2003. Queer Issues in Contemporary Latin American Cinema. Austin: University of Texas Press. pp. 50-60 Conductaimpropria and pp. 147-163 Fresa y Chocolate.
González, Eduardo. 2006. Cuba and the Tempest: Literature and Cinema in the Time of Diaspora. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
Guevara,Ernesto. 1965. “Man and Socialism”(El socialismo y el hombre en Cuba). In The Cuban Reader. Durham & London: Duke University Press, pp.370-374.
Hall, Stuart. 1990. “Cultural Identity and Diaspora”. In Community, Culture, Difference, edited by Jonathan Rutherford. London: Lawrence &Wishart, pp. 223-237.
Hall, Stuart, “Who needs identity?” in Hall, Stuart and Paul Du Gay (Eds.). 1996.Questions of Cultural Identity.London: Sage.
Hamilton, Carrie. 2012. Sexual revolutions in Cuba: passion, politics, and memory. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
Kapcia, Antoni. 2000. Cuba: Island of Dreams. Oxford: Berg.
Kirk, John M. and Leonardo Padura Fuentes. 2001. Culture and the Cuban Revolution, Conversations in Havana. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.
Kroll, Juli. 2014. “The kiss of the the marble statue: Existentialism and Cuba’s ‘Special Period’ in La nada cotidiana by Zoé Valdés’. Hispanofilía ,172, pp. 187-205.
Lahr-Vivaz, Elena. 2010. “TimelessRhetoric, SpecialCircumstances: Sex and Symbol in "La nada cotidiana"”. Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos, Vol. 34, No. 2 (Invierno 2010), pp. 303-321
Lievesley, Geraldine. 2004. The Cuban Revolution: past, present, and future perspectives / Palgrave Macmillan.
Martínez Fernández, Luis. 2014.Revolutionary Cuba: a history. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida.
McMahon, Wendy-Jayne. 2012, Dislocated identities: exile and the self as (m)other in the writing of Reinaldo Arenas.Peter Lang.
Montoya, Óscar E. 2012 “Leonardo Padura Fuentes: las máscaras estéticas Y sexuales de la Revolución”. HispanicReview, Vol. 80, No. 1 (WINTER 2012), pp. 107-125.
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, pp. 31-74.
Ocasio Rafael, 2002. “Gays and the Cuban Revolution: The Case of Reinaldo Arenas”. Latin American Perspectives, Vol. 29, No. 2, Gender, Sexuality, and Same-Sex Desire in Latin America (Mar., 2002), pp. 78-98.
Ortiz, Fernando. 28/11/1939. “Los factores humanos de la cubanidad”, paperpresented at a conference at HavanaUniversity. Published in RevistaBimestre. Cubana. Vol. XLV, N.2, (March-April 1940), pp. 161-186.
Paz, Senel. 1995. Strawberry & chocolate; introduction, translations & interview by Peter Bush. Bloomsbury.
Pérez-Firmat,Gustavo. 1997. "A Willingness of the Heart: Cubanidad, Cubaneo, Cubanía”. Keynote Speech at Second Annual South Florida Symposium on Cuba, Cuban Studies Association; also in Cuban Studies Association Occasional Papers, paper 8, Vol. 2, N. 7.
Pérez-Firmat, Gustavo. 1989. The Cuban Condition: Translation and Identity in Modern Cuban Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wilkinson, Stephen, 1999. “Homosexuality and the Repression of Intellectuals in Fresa y chocolate andMáscaras”. Bulletin of Latin American Research, Vol. 18, N. 1, pp. 17-33.
Wilkinson, Stephen, 2006. Detective Fiction in Cuban Society and Culture. Bern: Peter Lang AG.
Williams, Claudette. 2011. “Nancy Morejón y la historia de la mujer cubana: la otra cara de la moneda”. Revista Iberoamericana, Vol. LXXVII, Núm. 235, Abril-Junio 2011, 425-439
Name Role
Dr Pascale Baker Lecturer / Co-Lecturer