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Unit information: On the Matter of Poetry: Concrete and Material Poetics in 20th Century Brazil and Chile in 2018/19

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Unit name On the Matter of Poetry: Concrete and Material Poetics in 20th Century Brazil and Chile
Unit code HISP20094
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Kosick
Open unit status Not open




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


This unit will be taught by Rebecca Kosick.

Rather than asking if poetry matters, this unit begins from the assumption that it does and, from there, goes on to ask how. With 20th century Brazil and Chile as its context, this unit will explore a variety of poetic practices that favored the material, visual, and spatial aspects of language over the discursive or communicative. Because many of the works to be considered blur the lines between the poetic and the plastic arts, this unit will have an interdisciplinary framework, drawing from literary studies, as well as art history, and studies of the object.

On the Matter of Poetry is offered as either a Spanish or a Portuguese unit. Students will work with primary materials in both languages. However, English translations of critical texts will also be available to those students who may have experience with only one of these.


  1. to introduce students to major poetic movements and figures from 20th century Brazil and Chile, and to develop and foster practice in a comparative approach to Latin American studies;
  2. to enhance skills in literary analysis and interpretation, while at the same time introducing alternative modes of “reading” including visual analysis, description, and the translation of things into words;
  3. to develop students’ abilities to think critically about the canon and genre formation, and to ask big questions about the limits and flexibilities of language, literature, and their study;
  4. to facilitate students’ practice with an evidence-driven approach to argumentation.

Intended learning outcomes

At the close of this unit, students will have

  1. an advanced understanding of key figures and practices in Latin American poetry and art;
  2. enhanced their ability to analyse, describe, and interpret creative works in and between a variety of media;
  3. strengthened their skills in comparison, both literary and geo-cultural;
  4. improved their ability to read challenging (primary, theoretical, historical) texts in a foreign language;
  5. developed their ability to construct and support sophisticated arguments in writing.

Teaching details

Please include reference to any distance learning or any significant e-learning components, if appropriate

This unit will be primarily taught in a seminar-style with active student participation.

Assessment Details

The summative assessment will consist of 1 2-hour exam (50%) and one 2000-word essay (50%), both testing ILOs 1-5. Formative assessment will include weekly discussion comments and in-class activities, such as collaborative exercises and brief presentations.

Reading and References

Because many of the texts this class will examine are rare or non-traditional (for example, not taking the form of books at all), most will be made available on Blackboard and will include poems by:

  • Vicente Huidobro
  • Juan Luis Martínez
  • Concrete poets (Augusto de Campos, Haroldo de Campos, and Décio Pignatari)
  • Neoconcrete poets (Ferreira Gullar and Lygia Pape)