SPAN-398 Central American Literature, Film & Music
Spring for 2015-2016
This seminar, which will be taught entirely in Spanish, will study a diversity of cultural texts from modern Central America, a region often sidelined in Latin American literature classes. Key questions will include the following: Does Central America exist in any sense other than geographic? How might a regional identity be defined? Given the different histories and demographics of the various countries, does it make more sense to treat local artistic traditions through national frameworks? Or does that approach evade sharper questions about internal and external fault lines? To what extent is Central America not a marginal space but a globally central one? Given the large Salvadoran population in the Washington, D.C., area, to what extent is Central America even in Central America anyway? Is southern and southeastern Mexico part of Central America? Is Belize? Is the Panama Canal? Is Panama? In what senses yes, in what senses no? If modern Central America is largely associated with a legacy of conflict, where do Costa Rican arts fit in? Given such Atlantic coast populations as the garinagu (garífuna), where do the Caribbean and Central America interdefine and distinguish from each other?
Students will read a variety of prose from different countries, including the Guatemalan testimonial Me llamo Rigoberta Menchu y así me nació la conciencia, the Salvadoran/American novels Odisea del norte by Mario Bencastro and Cenizas de Izalco by Darwin J. Flakoll and Claribel Alegría, and the Costa Rican novel Los Peor by Fernando Contreras Castro. Poetic texts will include work by the Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton and the Nicaraguan poets Rubén Darío, Ernesto Cardenal, and Daisy Zamora. Musical subjects will include reggaetón from Panama and punta rock from Honduras and Belize. Half a dozen films in different genres will be included in the syllabus as well.
The course will be taught as a seminar, so high levels of student participation will be expected. Requirements will include two oral presentations, three essays, and a field trip involving pupusas.
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