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Modern Latin American Literature - ENG00134I

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Natasha Tanna
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

In this module we will explore a range of modern Latin American texts, including short stories, novels, and poetry published originally in Spanish, Portuguese, and Spanglish from the 1930s to the present. The texts written in Spanish and Portuguese are available in translation. We will discuss literary responses to dictatorship and authoritarianism, conflict, colonialism, race, class, and national identity in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, and Puerto Rico/US.

Texts/topics are likely to include Afro-Cuban identity in the poetry of Nicolás Guillén (1930s-70s); the fantastic and philosophical short stories of Argentine Jorge Luis Borges (1940s-50s); the metafictional novella A hora da estrela (1977)/The Hour of the Star by Ukrainian-born Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector; K’iche’ Maya writer Rigoberta Menchú’s testimonio (1983) of the Guatemalan Civil War;

the use of Spanglish in Latinx literature through a study of Puerto Rican writer Giannina Braschi’s novel Yo-Yo Boing (1998); Chilean Roberto Bolaño’s reflection on the Pinochet dictatorship in his novel Nocturno de Chile (2000)/By Night in Chile; haunting reflections on language and translation in Mexican writer Cristina Rivera Garza’s play on the detective fiction genre in her novel El mal de la taiga (2012) / The Taiga Syndrome.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2022-23 to Summer Term 2022-23

Module aims

This module aims to introduce you to literary works that respond to a range of different political and historical contexts across Latin America, including the Southern Cone, the Caribbean, and Latinx writing in the US. Throughout the module you will develop your skills of close reading, formal analysis, and your ability to bring literary texts into dialogue with other theoretical work on a range of issues including testimonio (a first-person witness account of social injustice that represents the experiences of a collective), the relationship between literature and politics, race, translation, and gender.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with a range of texts and literary genres from across Latin(x) America.
  2. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with key debates in Latin(x) American literary culture, including the connection between literature, history, and politics.
  3. Examine key debates and critical approaches, including those relating to colonialism, “race”, indigeneity, class, and gender in a variety of Latin(x) American contexts.
  4. Develop arguments and ideas which demonstrate a proficiency in critical thinking, research, and writing skills.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of some of the key issues at stake in the act of translation and in the study of literature in translation.


Task Length % of module mark
2500-word essay
N/A 70
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Modern Latin American Literature Exam
4 hours 30

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

You will be given the opportunity to hand in a 1000 word formative essay in week 1 of the summer term. Material from this essay may be re-visited in your summative essay and it is therefore an early chance to work through material that might be used in assessed work.

You will submit your essay to a Google Folder. It will be annotated and returned to you by your tutor within two weeks. Feedback on the essay will be uploaded to eVision.


Task Length % of module mark
2500-word essay
N/A 70
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Modern Latin American Literature Exam
4 hours 30

Module feedback

  • You will receive feedback on all assessed work within the University deadline, and will often receive it more quickly. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is designed to help you to improve your work, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further you can discuss it with your tutor or your supervisor, during their Open Office Hours

  • For more information about the feedback you will receive for your work, see the department's Guide to Assessment

Indicative reading

Texts on the course may include:

A selection of poetry by Nicolás Guillén (1930s – 1970s) translated into English by Langston Hughes in Cuba Libre (1948) and Salvador Ortiz-Carboneres in Yoruba from Cuba: Selected Poems of Nicolás Guillén (2005) - Cuba

A selection of Jorge Luis Borges’s short stories from Ficciones / Fictions (1941-1956) – Argentina

A selection of Juan Rulfo’s short stories in El Llano en llamas (1953) translated into English as The Burning Plain and Other Stories / The Plane in Flames / El Llano in flames - Mexico

Clarice Lispector’s novella A hora da estrela (1977) / The Hour of the Star (1977) and translations into English by Giovanni Pontiero (1992) and Benjamin Moser (2011) - Brazil

Rigoberta Menchu´s (1983) Me llamo Rigoberta Menchú y así me nació la conciencia –with Elisabeth Burgos-Debray translated into English as I, Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala (1985) by Ann Wright – Guatemala (by a K’iche’ Maya author)

Giannina Braschi’s novel Yo-Yo Boing (1998) – US/Puerto Rico

Roberto Bolaño’s novella Nocturno de Chile (2000) / By Night in Chile (2003) translated in English by Chris Andrews - Chile

Cristina Rivera Garza’s novel El mal de la taiga (2012) translated as The Taiga Syndrome (2019) by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana – Mexico
Gabriela Cabezón Cámara’s novel Las aventuras de la China Iron (2017) translated into English by Fiona Mackintosh and Iona Macintyre as The Adventures of China Iron (2019) – Argentina

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.