SPAN-492 Asian and African Literature in Spanish
Fall for 2015-2016

The literature of the Spanish-speaking world has been divided traditionally into two general areas of study, Spain and Latin America. This course, however, will be organized as follows:

(1) The first section will focus on the eight decades or so of Filipino literature in Spanish, running from 1880 to the 1960s. Texts will include a novel by the national hero José Rizal and various short stories, poems, dramas and essays by 20th century authors, including chapters from the only known Asian science fiction novel in Spanish. Students will discuss how to analyze critically a body of literature that, with the exception of Rizal, is virtually unknown to exist by scholars and general readers alike, both inside and outside the Philippines. Students will also consider how to approach a literary tradition produced under the duress of colonization by three successive empires (Spain, the United States, and Japan) and after national independence; and in a language that most Filipinos did not speak in the first place. In addition, students will be encouraged to seek out Asian literature in Spanish that may exist in other former Spanish posessesions in the Pacific such as Palau and Guam, and in immigrant communities in Japan and Australia. This section of the course will conclude with a look at 17th-century texts from the brief Spanish presence in Taiwan; and modern writings in Chabacano, a growing language derived from Spanish and various Filipino languages, that is now spoken by half a million people.

(2) The second section of the course will concentrate on the Spanish-language literature of Equatorial Guinea in western Africa, whose first novel appeared in 1953 and whose fiction and poetry has proliferated since the mid-1980s. At issue here is the creation of a literary tradition in an imperial language that began in an era of fascist colonialism (that of Franco’s Spain) that was followed after local independence by two particularly egregious dictatorships (the second of which, dating from 1979, continues to this day). As a result, Guinean literature in Spanish has been produced mostly in exile. Students will consider what it means for a national tradition to develop mostly outside the nation it aims to represent and whose readership is almost entirely foreign. After studying Guinean literature, students will read and discuss poetry, fiction, and drama in Spanish from Western Sahara, Morocco and Cameroon.

The course will culminate in a discussion of how literature in Spanish can be argued to exist as a global rather than binary (i.e., Spain/Latin America) phenomenon, and whether it might include pop music in Spanglish from Sweden and the United States, literature by Chilean emigrants to Canada, and so forth. From the beginning, however, students will be asked to posit connections between Asian and African traditions in Spanish and more familiar ones from Spain and Latin America. How, for example, do Filipino and Guinean texts in Spanish complicate existing notions of the literature of 1898? The overall goal of the course is for students to question and push outward the supposed boundaries of literature in Spanish. In short, this course is not about reading and commenting on a series of famous texts but rather about helping create a new field of studies: global hispanophone literature.

Halfway through the course, students will conduct independent research at the Library of Congress in which they will be required to discover unknown Asian literature in Spanish and write about it. In addition, the final paper will demand original research and will include the option of focusing on Asian literature in Portuguese from Goa (India), East Timor, etc.

The course is open to advanced undergraduates and graduate students. For graduate students in the Spanish and Portuguese department, it qualifies as fulfilling the distribution requirement in the Transatlantic field. The course will be taught entirely in Spanish and in seminar style.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

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Fall '15: Lifshey A (description)
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