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Ecstasy, Vengeance, and Radical Politics in Latina/o Literature, Cinema and Music

ENGL 270.402

“The border” between Mexico and the US is no longer imaginable just as a 2,000 mile line cutting through space – one violently guarded, yet porous.  And given the recent increase in migrations of US citizens from Puerto Rico to the US, as well as the regularity of “returns” of Latinos and Latinoamericanos living in the US to their “homelands” (Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico, and Puerto Rico), we find ourselves in a complicated moment in the history of citizenship, nationalism, as well as the politics and economics of being.  If we are attentive to current debates about migrancy, “illegal aliens,” and “undocumented workers” throughout this country, we can read the deep fear being articulated: the border iseverywhere.  The entire US becomes a frontera of debates about definitions of citizenship, belonging, and language – while globalization and neoliberalism not only urge, but also benefit from these movements of bodies that are, likewise, movements of capital.


What do these movements mean to contemporary notions of American Literature and Cinema?  To a Latina/o aesthetics?  To philosophical questions of citizenship, kinship, and politics?  In this course, we will move through major and minor texts of Latina/o literature, cinema, and music, and experience the circling themes of ecstasy and vengeance, and the persistent desire for a radical politics.  We will trace representations of three grounding features of Latina/o aesthetics: one, the importance of working class urban-industrial and rural-agricultural imaginaries; two, images of the history of colonial oppression juxtaposed with contemporary forms of racism, sexism, and exploitative labor; and three, the contradictory mixture of the forces of assimilation, the policing of bodies and land, and the radical desire to belong to a place and articulate the existence of a people.  We will read short stories and poetry by mid-20th century and new Latina/o writers: Tomás Rivera, Rolando Hinojosa, Ana Castillo, Richard Rodríguez, Pedro Pietri, Miguel Algarín, Julia de Burgos, Junot Díaz, Roberto Bolaño, and Eduardo Corral.  We will watch a mixture of “classic” and contemporary films, among which may be: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly; Carlito’s Way; Scarface; I Love Lucy; El Súper; Piñero; Once Upon a Time in Mexico; Y tu mamá también; & Babel.

 For the music component of the course, we will study a few recordings of son, salsa, bomba, ranchera, and corridos, and will be visited by live musicians and dancers.

This course counts as a Cultural Diversity in the U. S. requirement in the College.

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