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Unit information: Novels, Poetry and Politics in Twentieth Century Latin America in 2020/21

Unit name Novels, Poetry and Politics in Twentieth Century Latin America
Unit code HISP20077
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Jo Crow
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit introduces students to three of Latin America's most well known writers: Pablo Neruda, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa. It involves in-depth study of their texts, supplemented by analysis of different reader responses. Exploring a wide range of themes, including memory, colonial ideology, socialist revolution and violence, the unit encourages students to think about the relationship between literature and the historical and social context from which it emerges. It raises important questions about literature as political communication. Can there be such a thing as a "socialist novel", for example? Do the fantastic aspects of a text undermine or enhance its serious intent? Students will also disuss some of the key aesthetic issues relevant to the poetry and the novels.

Intended learning outcomes

Successful students will:

  1. be knowledgeable about a significant cultural, historical or linguistic subject related to the language they are studying;
  2. be skilled in the selection and synthesis of relevant material;
  3. be able to evaluate and analyse relevant material from a significant body of source materials, usually in a foreign language, at a high level;
  4. be able to respond to questions or problems by presenting their independent judgments in an appropriate style and at an high level of complexity;
  5. be able to transfer these skills to other working environments, including study at a foreign university and on work placements during the year abroad.
  6. be able to demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively.
  7. be able to demonstrate sophisticated presentation skills.
  8. be able to demonstrate the ability to carry out independent research appropriate to this level of study.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures, and collaborative as well as self-directed learning opportunities supported by tutor consultation

Assessment Details

1 x 1000 word commentary (summative, 25%), assessing ILOs 1-5.

1 x 3000 word essay (summative, 75%), assessing ILOs 1-5.

1 group presentation on topic chosen by students (formative), assessing ILOs 1-4, 6-8.

Reading and References

  • César Vallejo, Poemas humanos
  • Octavio Paz, El laberinto de la soledad
  • Mario Vargas Llosa, La historia de Mayta and El hablador
  • Diamela Eltit, Lumpérica
  • Subcomandante Marcos , Our Word is our Weapon