Twentieth Century Novels of Education

A Seminar in Latin American Literature

Professor: Maureen Murov (mckenna)
Email: email
Tel. 869.5259
Office: Jackson 306 D
Office Hrs: T, Th 3:30-4:30 PM

Spanish 396 (Selected Topics)

This course will focus on a series of recent novels of education, or bildungs roman, from Latin America. Through these coming of age narratives the class will examine important questions about Latin American cultural and national identity from the perspective of several different subject positions. We will examine specifically how the protagonists’ gender, sexual orientation, political ideology, race, and immigrant status affect the nature of their self- image. More generally, however, we will attempt to discern what the writers we study have to say about the place of particular subjects within the framework of debate over national identity. Which subjects are designated leaders, which ones face discrimination and exclusion from the national family? One very important question centers around how the adolescent characters in these novels come to understand the norms of their culture and society and how they either adapt to or subvert the status quo.

During the course of the semester, you will write two papers on two different novels. There will also be a final project that will involve creative interaction with the texts. Possibilities include web-page design and writing a screenplay for a key scene in one of the novels. In addition to written work, students will do two presentations: the first will be a presentation on one of the novels that includes a discussion of some recent criticism on the novel, the second will require students to share their final project with the class.

Attendance matters. Please do not miss more than 4 days during the semester. If you do, this will be reflected in your final grade.

Please observe the Honor Code when writing your papers. Sharing an idea with a friend or having someone check your grammar is one thing. Having someone write the paper for you or copying other people's work without proper citation is "harina de otro costal" and is not 'legal.'


2 Papers (4-7 pages): 50%

2 Oral Presentations: 15%

Participation in Class: 10%

Final Project: 25%

Principal Texts:

Los ríos profundos, José María Arguedas (Perú)
Celestino antes del alba, Reinaldo Arenas (Cuba)
No pasó nada, Antonio Skármeta (Chile)
Nadie alzaba la voz, Paula Varsavsky (Argentina)
La bella durmiente, Rosario Ferré (Puerto Rico)

Semana #1 (9 y 11 de enero)

Introducción a cuestiones de naciones, sujetos, e identidad(es)


  • Selecciones de
  • Génesis
  • Ernst Renan, What is a nation?
  • Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities

Semana #2 (16 y 18 de enero)

Nicolás Shumway, The Invention of Argentina
DF Sarmiento, Facundo


  • Los ríos profundos
  • J.C. Mariátegui, Siete ensayos de interpretación

Semana #3 (23 y 25 de enero)

Lecturas: Los ríos profundos

Presentación #1 on Los ríos profundos

Semana #4 (30 de enero, 1 de febrero)


  • Los ríos profundos
  • Mikhail Bakhtin, from The Dialogic Imagination

Semana #5 (6 y 8 de febrero)


  • Celestino antes del alba


  • Fresa y chocolate
  • o Conducta Impropia

Semana 6 (13 y 15 de febrero)


  • Celestino antes del alba

Presentación #2 on Celestino

***First Paper Due

Semana 7 (20 y 22 de febrero)


  • No pasó nada
  • Artículos sobre Augusto Pinochet

Vacaciones de Mardi Gras

Semana 8 (6 y 8 de marzo)


  • No pasó nada


  • Missing

Semana 9 (13 y 15 de marzo)


  • Nadie alzaba la voz

Presentación #3 No pasó nada

Semana 10 (20 y 22 de marzo)


  • Nadie alzaba la voz
  • Artículos sobre El Proceso en la Argentina

Semana 11 (27 y 29 de marzo)


  • Nadie alzaba la voz
  • La bella durmiente
  • Ensayos de Sitio a Eros

Presentación #4 on Nadie alzaba la voz

Semana 12 (3 y 5 de abril)


  • La bella durmiente
  • “Las tretas del débil”

***Second Paper Due

Semana 13 (10 de abril)


  • La bella durmiente

Presentación #5 on La bella durmiente

Semana 14 (17 y 19 de abril)


  • La bella durmiente

Semana 15 (24 y 26 de abril)

Entrega de los proyectos
y presentaciones de los mismos