Graduate Course Description

350:594 - Literatures of the Americas

Course No: 350:594
Index # - 20488
Distribution Requirement: A4, A5, C, D
Tuesday - 5:00 p.m.
MU 207

Literatures of the Americas

Jeffrey Lawrence

This course offers a comparative study of the literatures of the Americas from the early twentieth century to the present. We will read a range of novels, stories, essays and poems written in the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean, a number of which were originally published in Spanish, Portuguese and French. The course will trace the development of major literary and cultural trends in the Americas, paying particular attention to how debates about modernity/modernization, empire, indigeneity, and race are inflected in literary texts. We will also test the translatability of such critical terms as “modernism,” “magical realism,” and “neo-slave narrative” across linguistic and national traditions.

Our readings will concentrate on literary works from the Americas whose imagined geographies move beyond the boundaries of nation and region, and may include texts by Mariano Azuela, Katherine Anne Porter, Nicolás Guillén, Langston Hughes, William Faulkner, Jean Rhys, Alejo Carpentier, Clarice Lispector, Franz Fanon, Elena Garro, Leslie Marmon Silko, Gayl Jones, Víctor Montejo, and Roberto Bolaño. We will also consider important scholarly interventions in hemispheric/ inter-American studies, asking what it means to think “hemispherically” and how the literary works we read lend themselves to and/or resist current critical paradigms.          

Students will be expected to turn in one midterm paper of 7-8 pages and one final paper of 10-15 pages. The shorter paper will model a hemispheric analysis, using a comparative framework to analyze two texts from distinct linguistic/national traditions. The final paper will be on a topic of the students’ choosing. All readings will be available in English, though students will be encouraged to read non-English-language works in the original whenever possible.