Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Art, the State, and the New Citizen in Contemporary Latin American Literature

ENGL 270.401
instructor(s):
fulfills requirements:
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

The Cuban Revolution, the national, economic and architectural promise of Mexican modernity, and Allende’s election in Chile mark three distinct moments in Latin American history of tension and hope. But Pinochet’s coup that ended in Allende’s death, the massacre of Tlatelolco following the occupation of the UNAM by Mexico’s military, and the persecution of dissidents, queers, and artists in Cuba’s early days of revolutionary institutionalization mark swiftly composed counterpoints to the hopes and the tensions of the former “events.” This course will focus on a cluster of major texts within three national literary traditions: Chilean, Mexican and Cuban. The time frame is basically from 1950 into today. In each context this time frame will allow us to question the impossible knot between the artist and the state, given the state’s over-exertions of power and art’s, especially literature’s, imperative to imagine the possibilities of a new citizenship. Neruda’s Canto General, Eltit’s E. Luminata, Bolaño’s By Night in Chile and possibly Lemebel’s My Tender Matador will be the first cluster. Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo, Paz’s The Labyrinth of Solitude and Bolaño’s Amulet will form the cluster of Mexican texts. And the Cuban literary grouping will be Cabrera-Infante’s Three Trapped Tigers, Arenas’ The Color of Summer and Ena Lucía Portela’s One Hundred Bottles. Films will be viewed/read with each section, and may include: one work by Chilean director, Raul Ruíz; The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Rojo Amanecer, and Amores Perros; Soy Cuba and Suite Habana.