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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Cynthia Steele
C LIT 357
Seattle Campus

Literature and Film

The film as an art form, with particular reference to the literary dimension of film and to the interaction of literature with the other artistic media employed in the form. Films are shown as an integral part of the course. Content varies.

Class description

Through close readings of films, essays and novels (including the UW Common Book for 2008), we will examine the challenges and represented by human movements in both directions across the U.S. Mexican border, as well as the migrating concept of “the Border" itself, in the globalizing twenty-first century. How have Latin Americans and Latinos traditionally been portrayed by Hollywood and other U.S. media, and how does this relate to the national imaginary of immigration and pursuit of ‘the American Dream’? How has the changing demography of the U.S. due to Latin immigration affected U.S. culture? How have patterns of U.S. tourism and popular culture affected Mexican culture? How have Mexican immigrants’ conception of their own place in the two countries changed over time? How has the recent increase in drug trafficking and the related mob violence influenced U.S. views of Latinos? How has the colonial history of the two nations affected each government’s policy toward migration and related issues? And how has the shifting political landscape of the two nations, from Bush to Obama and from Fox to Calderón, as well as political crises like 9/11 and the War in Iraq, affected North Americans’ conceptions of their own exceptionalism, their vulnerability to outside threats, and their conception of human rights at home and abroad? Spanish majors will do at least half of the research for their essays, and all of their writing, in Spanish.

Texts: Fernando Romero, Hyberborder (NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2008); Luis Alberto Urrea, The Devil’s Highway (NY: Back Bay Books, 2005); Ana Castillo, The Guardians (NY: Random House, 2008); and Jorge Castañeda, Ex Mex: From Migrants to Immigrants (NY: The New Press, 2007). Films: Gringo in Mañanaland (1995), Border Incident (1949), Touch of Evil (1951), The Border (1982), El norte (1989), Fronterilandia (1990), El jardín del edén/ The Garden of Eden (1994), A Day Without a Mexican (2004), The Three Burials of Melquíades Estrada (2005), and Sangre de mi sangre (2008).

Student learning goals

Knowledge regarding how Mexican migrants have been represented in U.S. and Mexican film over the past half century, as well as by recent writers from both countries.

Close reading skills.

Library research skills.

Analytical writing skills.

Skills in film analysis.

General method of instruction

Lecture and discussion.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Two 5-6-page analytical essays; three in-class film response papers. Spanish majors will do at least half of the research for their essays, and all of their writing, in Spanish.


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: 01/30/2009