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Unit information: Colombia: History and Culture since Independence in 2020/21

Unit name Colombia: History and Culture since Independence
Unit code HISP30071
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Brown
Open unit status Not open




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


The course explores conflict in Colombian society by means of examination of key literary texts and film. From Independence to the One Hundred Days War, and from La Violencia to Pablo Escobar, paramilitaries and 'narco-terrorists', the course examines the ways in which writers and film-makers have sought to use violent conflict in their work.

The unit aims:

  • To introduce students to a significant body of knowledge of a complexity appropriate to final year level. The content matter will normally include one or more of the following: literature; social, cultural or political history; linguistics; cultural studies; film, television or other media.
  • To facilitate students’ engagement with a body of literature, including secondary literature, texts, including in non-print media, primary sources and ideas as a basis for their own analysis and development. Normally many or most of these sources will be in a language other than English and will enhance the development of their linguistic skills.
  • To develop further skills of synthesis, analysis and independent research, building on the skills acquired in units at level H/6.
  • To equip students with the skills to undertake postgraduate study in a relevant field.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of Colombian history and culture as part of their broader studies of the Spanish language;
  2. Evaluate and analyse a large body of primary source materials (often produced in the target language);
  3. Select and synthesise relevant critical material to contextualise those analyses;
  4. Formulate independent judgements in response to complex questions and problems raised by the unit’s material;
  5. Develop their academic writing skills at an advanced level appropriate to level H/6.

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

2 x 2500-word essays (summative, 50% each). Each testing ILOs 1-5.

Reading and References

  • Marco Palacios and Frank Safford, Colombia: Fragmented Land, Divided Society
  • David Bushnell, The Making of Modern Colombia: A nation in spite of itself
  • Marco Palacios, Between Legitimacy and Violence
  • Jenny Pearce, Colombia: Inside the Labyrinth
  • Jorge Isaacs, María
  • José Eustacio Rivera, La vorágine
  • Fernando Vallejo, La virgen de los sicarios
  • Héctor Abad Faciolince, El olvido que seremos