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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Raquel Albarran
SPAN 461
Seattle Campus

Topics in Latin American Cultural Studies

Examines Latin American society and its cultural production. Major movements in the development of Latin American society and intellectual life as reflected in music, the visual arts, literature, etc. Specific topics vary. Prerequisite: either SPAN 303, SPAN 316, or SPAN 330; SPAN 321; SPAN 322; either SPAN 304, SPAN 305, SPAN 306, SPAN 307, SPAN 308, SPAN 319, SPAN 339, SPAN 340, SPAN 350, SPAN 351, SPAN 352, SPAN 394, or SPAN 395.

Class description

"New World Objects: Materiality and Colonial Discourse in Latin America": In 1609, the mestizo Inca Garcilaso de la Vega compared his condition as both a Spanish and an indigenous writer to a perforated stone he discovered on a visit to an Andean mine. This analogy is one important testimony among many in which colonized subjects turn to the irreducible materiality of objects and things to assert, define, question, or contest their position within the complex structure of the Spanish empire. This course analyzes the discursive structures and rhetorical strategies of colonial Latin American texts. We will engage in a re-reading of key accounts to explore how materiality complicates the verbal strategies of the chronicles and other written testimonies of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. We will study texts by Cristóbal Colón, Hernán Cortés, Bartolomé de Las Casas, Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, Bernardo de Balbuena, and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Secondary readings will include selections from: Rolena Adorno, W.J.T. Mitchell, Peter Hulme, Alessandra Russo, José Rabasa, Antonio Cornejo-Polar, John Beverly, Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel, Stephanie Merrim, Josefina Ludmer, José Antonio Mazzotti, among others.

Student learning goals

Discuss colonialism in Latin America, particularly in relation to the discursive formulation of ethno-racial and gendered dynamics.

Identify and explain some of the conceptual vocabulary (such as colonialism, coloniality, materiality, transculturation) used to frame different cultural productions.

Demonstrate familiarity with the following methodological approaches: close reading and historical analysis.

Conduct independent research to connect class readings and discussions to a range of personal academic interests.

General method of instruction

Through a combination of lectures, student presentations, class discussions, and writing exercises, we will explore a variety of discursive formations (personal accounts, histories, poetry, and theater) and material expressions.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Students will be evaluated according to the following requirements:

4 reflexiones; 2 moderated discussions; a paper proposal; a final essay; attendance and participation


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 Raquel Albarran
Date: 04/02/2013