Hispanic Studies 400. Seminar in Hispanic Studies
Fiction and Documentary in Latin America
Latin America has a long history of testimonial writing as well as documentary film. Yet how do these written and film genres distinguish themselves from fictional representation, which often also incorporates historical material and film footage and contains claims to truth and reality? This course explores the fluid boundary between fiction and documentary in contemporary Latin American writing and film. By examining testimonial writing, fiction, and both fictional and documentary film, we will attempt to trace how these various cultural productions convey concepts of truth and fiction, reality and fantasy. In particular, we will consider the implications of these modalities for the representation of local, regional, and national realities in Latin America and their reception in the wider world.
Loved or loathed, cities have received philosophical and literary attention since antiquity. More than landscapes, cities have shaped historical imaginaries globally. This senior seminar will focus on the modern city and its representation in the Hispanic world. We will read the fundamental texts of a handful of great metropolises: Barcelona (Ruiz Zafón), Buenos Aires (Borges), La Habana (Ponte), Madrid (Mañas), y Mexico D.F. (Bolaños). Some theoretical questions that the senior eminar will explore are: What is unique about the urban experience that is represented in literature? Are cities spaces or places? Are cities merely physical, or are they a “state of mind,” as Frank Sinatra sang? Are cities designed or planned? Georg Simmel, Walter Benjamin, Henri Lefebvre, Manuel Castells, Michel de Certeau, Pierre Bourdieu, and Ángel Rama will be the theoretical underpinnings of this course. Classes and readings will be in Spanish, except for some theoretical pieces. By the end of this class the students should have a better understanding of the relations between built space, identity, representation, social relations and political history.