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Mexico, Mexican America: Nation, Diaspora & Globalization in Literature and Cinema

ENGL 270.401

The imaginaries of Mexican, Mexican American, and Chicana/o writers and film directors form this course, and three main movements will organize our readings and viewings throughout the fall.  The first movement involves distinguishing the meanings of the word mestizaje in Mexican usages from its valences when used by Mexican American and Chicana/o artists in the US.  Within this study of mestizaje, we will focus on different literary and cinematic portrayals of the icons of La Virgen de Guadalupe and La Malinche.  Second, we will contrast romantic and violent narratives of the Mexican nation in the mid-20th century and today.  Within this movement, we will also consider the oft-stated claim that the border crossed Mexican American subjects in the late 19th century, they did not cross it, how the geographic concept of Aztlán relates to this claim, and what it means today for the Mexican diaspora.  In the third movement, we will study contemporary intensifications of the term “globalization” in literature and cinema.  Mexico, la frontera, migratory changes, and the US southwest pose a tremendous quandary for the clear division of the world into three parts, and for globalization theories that discuss the macro-movements of capitalism and cities, but elide other nuances and re-alignments of bodies and spaces, and which politics and aesthetics are emergent therein.  Moving imaginarily on foot, horseback, by car, train, and bus, through urban labyrinths and rural ranges, we will carry a Mexican and Mexican American compass to guide our critical thinking about the desire for place, the forces of displacement, and the aesthetic imperative of rendering alternative existences.  The writers we may read are: Rulfo, Paz, Bartra, Anzaldúa, Castillo, R. Rodriguez, and Bolaño.  The films we may study are: Nosotros los pobres (1947), El ángel exterminador (1962), Lugar sin limites (1978), El norte (1983), Sólo con tu pareja (1991), Amores Perros (2000), Y tu mamá también (2001), The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005), Babel (2006), Sin Nombre (2009), and Machete (2010).  All films in Spanish have English subtitles.  The final paper may be written in English or Spanish.

fulfills requirements
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major