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UTD Prof. René Prieto

Spring 2006 Office:
Class Mon 12:15-3:00 Office hrs: Mondays 3:00-5

SPECIAL TOPICS: “The Quest for Identity in Latin American Literature”

Who are Latin Americans? How do they define their identity? How has this
identity grown out of a cultural clash and evolved since Independence? Why is "hispanic"
a racist term? Students in this course will ponder these questions and attempt to answer
them through close readings of short stories and novels written south of the Rio Grande
in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
As we read, two questions will be uppermost in our minds: what are the issues
raised by Latin American authors in the years following the wars of independence? and;
what are the social, political, and aesthetic forces informing the fiction of the eighteen
countries that break away from Spanish rule, and forge societies that are dramatically
different from the mother culture? How and when does a specifically “Latin American”
identity develop? And, more importantly, what are the features of this identity, and how
are they portrayed in literary works?

Course Work

1. Writing Assignments
You will find in the Calendar below due dates for two term papers. These should
be about 2000 words each (approx. 10 pages long) on specific topics to be assigned at
least three weeks before the due dates. Papers are due at the beginning of the hour on the
assigned date. Late papers will be reduced one full grade for each class day of lateness.

2. Attendance. Because this course is structured as a progressive learning sequence,

regular attendance is essential. More than 3 absences will result in a drop in letter grade;
more than 5 absences will subject you to being dropped from the course. Therefore, if an
illness or other emergency leads to your prolonged absence please inform your professor
before three class days have elapsed.

3.) Oral Presentations. All students will be responsible for an in-class presentation of
approximately 10 minutes. The subject of this exercise will be a passage from one of the
readings. After reading the passage in class, students will indicate its theme, analyze
three of its stylistic features (e.g., use of coordinating conjunctions, repetition,
alliteration, paradox, metaphor, personification, etc.) and relate them to the theme. A
handout describing the procedure to be followed will be distributed in class. All students
will work in pairs for the oral presentations.

4.) Grades. Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

30% for the first term paper; 40% for the second
15% for class participation
15% for the oral presentation.
Attendance record and quality of participation in discussions will be figured into your
final grade average.

5.) Required reading

1. Paz, Octavio. The Labyrinth of solitude: the other Mexico, Return to the
Labyrinth of solitude, Mexico and the US, the Philanthropic ogre. Paperback.

2. Rulfo, Juan. Pedro Paramo. Trans. by Margaret Sayers Peden with foreword by
Susan Sontag. Paperback.

3. Diaz del Castillo, Bernal. The Conquest of New Spain (Penguin Classics). Intro
by John M. Cohen. Paperback.

4. Villaverde Cirilo. Cecilia Valdes or El Angel Hill (Library of Latin America).

5. Gallegos, Romulo. Dona Barbara (English translation)

6. Arguedas, Jose Maria. Deep Rivers. Francis Horning Barraclough, translator.


7. Fuguet, Alberto. Bad Vibes. Kristina Cordero, translator. (in photocopy)




Mon 9 hand-out course syllabus; intro to the course

Mon 16 No class today; class will be made up in February

Mon 23 Octavio Paz, The Labyrinth of solitude, Chapters 2, 3, 4, 5

Mon 30 Octavio Paz, The Labyrinth of solitude, Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9


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