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HL90t: LEGACIES OF TORTURE

Dr Karen Elizabeth Bishop Spring 2010


History & Literature Wednesday 2-4
Harvard University Barker Center 012

COURSE OVERVIEW
In this interdisciplinary History and Literature course, we will read historical, literary, and theoretical
texts, as well as view films, documentaries, and video that make up a corpus of international torture
studies. We will examine historical documents including codices, letters, speeches,
proclamations, memos, declassified national security documents, confessions, testimonios, and
declarations of human rights in order to better understand the history of torture, its policy, and its
relationship to processes of twentieth-century decolonialization and imperialism. We will also read
memoirs, literary autobiographies, plays, and novels that respond to the detention, confinement
and torture perpetrated under the regimes of the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo and the
Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the Chilean and Argentine Dirty Wars of the 1970s and
1980s, the Iran-Iraq War, and the on-going Iraq War. We will discuss the ways that torture is and
often is not documented historically, as well as consider the ethical and aesthetic responsibilities
and challenges of representing torture in literature and film. In addition to our primary historical
and literary texts, we will read essays and theoretical works by Michel Foucault, Jean Amry,
Alfred McCoy, Susan Sontag, Mark Danner, Elaine Scarry, and Idelber Avelar.

REQUIRED TEXTS
Edwidge Danticat, The Farming of Bones (1998)
Julia lvarez, In the Time of the Butterflies (1994)
Jessica Hagedorn, Dogeaters (1990)
Ariel Dorfman, Death and the Maiden (1991)
Alicia Partnoy, The Little School: Tales of Disappearance and Survival (1986)
Alicia Kozameh, Steps Under Water (1987)
Horacio Verbitsky, The Flight: Confessions of an Argentine Dirty Warrior (1996)
Marguerite Feitlowitz: A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture (1998)
Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (2001)
Mark Danner, Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror (2004)
a coursepack of selected primary and secondary texts
*recommended: Sanford Levinson, ed., Torture: A Collection (2004)
ASSIGNMENTS
one 15-minute oral presentation
1-page weekly response papers
two 3-page historical and literary close readings
a final 12-15 pp. paper accompanied by a 250-word abstract, and bibliography of primary and
secondary texts

COURSE REQUIREMENTS
participation: active, thoughtful, and constructive participation in class, discussions, and peer
group activities is expected and will comprise a significant amount of your final grade.
weekly response papers: every week, students will turn in a 1-page response to some aspect
of that weeks reading. These brief responses are ungraded assignments whose timely and
concerted completion will become part of a students participation grade. Response papers
will not be due the weeks that an oral presentation is given or when close readings are due.
oral presentations: each student will prepare a 15-minute presentation on a theoretical or
critical article.
close readings: two three-page close historical and literary readings will be assigned
throughout the semester; these important analytic exercises will help students gauge how
authors manifest meaning on the page by use of a variety of rhetorical and literary devices.
final paper: students will turn in a 12-15 pp. final research paper that will be preceded by a
250-word abstract and a working bibliography of primary and secondary sources.
further considerations:
the timely submission of work: all work is due in class on the date specified on the calendar
of reading and assignments. Late work will not be accepted except in cases of
documentable illness or emergency accompanied by a students earnest effort to get in touch
with me before the work is due. Work will not be accepted by email except in extraordinary
circumstances.
format for written work: all work should be typed, double-spaced, in size 12 Times New
Roman font. Papers should make use of 1-1.25 inch margins, left and right, and 1-inch
margins top to bottom. All work should be titled, paginated, stapled, and boast the authors
name and date.
film viewings: we will view six films over the course of the semester. We will discuss in class
whether we prefer to screen films and watch them together or to view them individually. In the
case of the latter, films will be on reserve in Lamont for student viewing.

GRADE BREAKDOWN
participation: 30%
oral presentation: 10%
two close readings: 20% (10% each)
final paper: 40%

OFFICE HOURS & CONTACT INFORMATION


I will hold office hours on Tuesday, 4-5 and Wednesday, 4-5, as well as by appointment (with at
least 24 hours advance notice). My office is in the Barker Center, 032. My email is
kebishop@fas.harvard.edu. Students may reach me by phone in my office at 617.495.3288 or, if
urgent (please be discriminating here), at 617.987.8044.

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COURSE WEBSITE
Our course website can be accessed at http://my.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k63341. Please
check the site regularly for announcements, updates, and course documents.

ACADEMIC ETHICS
Plagiarism and cheating in any form will not be tolerated, and will be immediately subject to
university disciplinary action. We will discuss in class what constitutes proper citation format, but
the burden to learn and practice this ultimately falls to the student. Please take this responsibility
seriously and make every effort to cultivate ethical and intelligent citation practices.

*IF YOU ARE A STUDENT WITH A DISABILITY, PLEASE SPEAK WITH ME AT THE
BEGINNING OF THE SEMESTER ABOUT ANY ACCOMMODATIONS YOU MAY NEED.

*THIS SYLLABUS IS PROVISIONAL AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

READINGS & VIEWINGS

Week I :: 27 January
Introduction to Course

HISTORIES OF TORTURE, TORTURE IN HISTORY

Week II :: 3 February
United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment (UN, 1985)
John H. Langbein, The Legal History of Torture from Torture: A Collection, ed. Sanford Levinson
(2004)
Jean Amry, Torture from At the Minds Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor of Auschwitz and
Its Realities (1964)
Michel Foucault, Torture from Discipline and Punish (1975)
Elaine Scarry, The Structure of Torture: The Conversion of Real Pain into the Fiction of Power
from The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (1985)

ON THE TRUJILLO DICTATORSHIP (1930-1961)

Week III :: 10 February


selection of maps of Hispaniola (evolution of the Dominican Republic and Haiti)
speeches by Trujillo given in 1937 in advance of the Parsley Massacre
Edwidge Danticat, The Farming of Bones (Haiti, 1998)
*recommended reading: Edwidge Danticat, The Dew Breaker (2005)

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Week IV :: 17 February
Trujillo Speaks: a series of four articles written for and published by the Miami Herald on April 3-6,
1960
Julia lvarez, In the Time of the Butterflies (Dominican Republic, 1994)
*recommended reading: Junot Daz, The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007)

ON THE MARCOS DICTATORSHIP (1965-1986)

Week V :: 24 February
Proclamation 1081, issued by Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines on 21 September 1972
(declares martial law)
Proclamation 2045 issued by Ferdinand Marcos on 17 January 1981 (declares end of martial law)
Amnesty International. Report of an Amnesty International Mission to the Republic of the
Philippines, 11-28 November 1981. London, United Kingdom, Amnesty International,
1982.
obituary of Ferdinand Marcos, published in the New York Times on 29 September 1989
Jessica Hagedorn, Dogeaters (1990)
*close literary reading due

ON THE PINOCHET REGIME (1973-1990)

Week VI :: 3 March
selections from Peter Kornbluh and Yvette White, eds., The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier
on Accountability and Atrocity (2003)
Ariel Dorfman, Death and the Maiden (1991)
viewing: Death and the Maiden, United States, 1994, dir. Roman Polanski
Idelber Avelar, From Plato to Pinochet: Torture, Confession, and the History of Truth from The
Letter of Violence: Essays on Narrative, Ethics, and Politics (2004)

ON THE ARGENTINE DIRTY WAR (1976-1983)

Week VII :: 10 March


speeches by General Jorge Videla:
speech to the Argentine Republic, published in La Prensa, 27 March 1976
press conference at Iguaz airport in 12 August 1976
press conference with British journalists, published in La Nacin, 18 December 1977
speeches by Admiral Emilio Massera:
The Quiet and Subtle Cyclone, speech made 3 May 1977
La postergacin de un destino [Postponing Destiny], speech made end of 1976
El rol de los empresarios y de las fuerzas armadas en el momento actual [The Role of
Businessmen and the Armed Forces at the Present Moment], speech made end of
1976
speech by Archbishop of San Juan, Idelfonso Mara Sansierra on 13 May 1979
Marguerite Feitlowitz, A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture (1998), pp. 3-192
viewing: La historia oficial [The Official Story], Argentina, 1985, dir. Luis Puenzo

Week of 17 March :: Spring Break

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Week VIII : 24 March
selections from Nunca ms: Report of the Argentine National Commission on the Disappeared
(1984)
Susana Kaiser, Conversations about Representing the Horror from Postmemories of Terror: A
New Generation Copes With the Legacy of the Dirty War (2005)
Alicia Partnoy, The Little School: Tales of Disappearance and Survival (1986)
Diana Taylor, Disappearing Bodies: Writing Torture and Torture as Writing from Disappearing
Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentinas Dirty War (1997)

Week IX :: 31 March
Rodolfo Walsh, Carta abierta de un escritor a la junta militar [Open Letter From a Writer to the
Military Junta] (24 March 1977)
selections from Jacobo Timerman, Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number (1981)
Alicia Kozameh, Steps Under Water (Argentina, 1996)

Week X :: 7 April
Marguerite Feitlowitz, A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture (1998), pp. 193-
255
Horacio Verbitsky, The Flight: Confessions of an Argentine Dirty Warrior (1996)
viewing: Cautiva [Captive], Argentina, 2003, dir. Gaston Biraben
*abstracts and working bibliographies for final papers due in class

ON THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION (1978-1979)

Week XI :: 14 April
"Official Support for the Shah and Anti-American Sentiment," October 30, 1978. United States
Consulate. Shiraz (Iran) Airgram from Victor L. Tomseth to the Department of State
(declassified report from American Consul Shiraz to US State Department on growing Anti-
Americanism in Iran as reported by scholars teaching at university in Shiraz)
Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (2001)
Persepolis, France, 2007, dir. Marjane Satrapi with Vincent Parronaud

ON THE IRAQ WAR (2001-PRESENT)

Week XII :: 21 April


memos, notices, and transcripts of press conferences by former President George Bush, former
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Professor John Yoo on Guantnamo Bay, the
legal rights of detainees, the Geneva Convention, the definition of torture, and US torture
policies (2002-2006); selections TBD; most included in Mark Danner, Torture and Truth
Susan Sontag, Regarding the Torture of Others, published 23 may 2004 in the New York Times
Magazine
Mark Danner, We Are All Torturers Now, published 6 January 2005 in the New York Times
Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on
Terror (2006), chapters 3-5
viewing: The Road to Guantnamo, Britain, 2006, dir. Michael Winterbottom
*close historical reading due

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Week XIII :: 28 April
a judicious selection of photographs from the Abu Ghraib Files
Nancy Popp, dir., US Code Section 2340A (art installation video)
Mark Danner, Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and The War on Terror, pp. 1-48
David Levi Strauss, Breakdown in the Gray Room: Recent Turns in the Image War from David
Levi Strauss and Charles Stein, eds., Abu Ghraib: The Politics of Torture (2004)
Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on
Terror (2006), chapter 6
viewing: Taxi to the Dark Side, America, 2007, dir. Alex Gibney
_______________________

Friday, 7 May: final papers due


please leave papers in my box in Hist&Lit by 4 p.m.