Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Cynthia Steele
C LIT 321
Seattle Campus

Studies in Literature of the Americas

Emphasizes connections between twentieth century literature of the United States and Canada and current literature of Latin America. Emphasizes that, despite obvious differences, much is shared in terms of culture and national sensibility across the two continents.

Class description

In much of the Americas modernization has been accompanied by rampant abuse of human rights, by massacres and tortures carried out by armies and governments, as well as by rogue groups taking advantage of weak states. Using Jean Franco’s new book Cruel Modernity (Duke UP, 2013) as our conceptual framework, we will read recent narrative and watch films from various regions of the Americas (the Southern Cone, Central America and Mexico, the US, and the Caribbean). These works deal with political violence in its various forms: from military repression, torture and disappearance to the violence associated with human trafficking and the drug cartels. We will read Roberto Bolaño’s Distant Star, Martín Kohan’s School for Patriots, Patricio Pron’s My Father’s Ghost Is Climbing in the Rain, Oscar Martínez’s The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail, and Junot Díaz’s The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Films will include La mirada invisible / The Invisible Eye (Argentina), Violeta Went Up to Heaven (Chile), La bestia (Guatemala), and La fiesta del chivo/The Feast of the Goat (Peru). Students will be responsible for writing a final 5-7-page analytical essay and for directing the class discussion of one set of readings, in addition to participating actively in our other discussions.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Class participation 20%

Essay 40%

Journal 40%


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Cynthia Steele
Date: 10/29/2013