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BA Spanish and Chinese

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Plural Cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean

Unit code SPLA31121
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Spanish, Portuguese and Latin
Available as a free choice unit? No


One of the most distinctive characteristics of Latin American societies is their high degree of ethnic and cultural diversity. This is the product of the mixing, throughout centuries, of different cultures (mainly indigenous, African, and European) due to colonisation, slavery, and migration. This course will examine some of the ways in which this diversity and mixing has been portrayed in twentieth and twenty-first century Latin American cultural production, focusing on film, literature, and music. Simultaneously, it will explore how this diversity has been problematised in Latin American thought, by examining such notions as ‘mestizaje’, ‘hybridity’ and ‘transculturation’. By focusing on the multi-ethnic condition of Latin American literature and culture, students will enhance their understanding of Latin American and Caribbean societies, improve their analytical and language skills, and increase their intercultural awareness.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Spanish Language 5 SPLA51050 Pre-Requisite Recommended
Spanish Language 4 SPLA51040 Pre-Requisite Recommended

Pre-requisite units:

SPLA20210 or SPLA20200 (Second year Spanish)


Available as Free Choice (UG) or to other programmes (PG)?  

Yes, but knowledge of Spanish is required (this will be assessed by the course convenor)


  • To widen students’ knowledge of Latin American cultures, history and thought
  • To improve students’ vocabulary and syntax in Spanish through the analysis of literature and other cultural forms
  • To encourage the development of intercultural skills by exploring Latin American racial and cultural diversity
  • To improve students’ structure, coherence, clarity and fluency in written and oral expression through essay-writing, seminar discussion, and oral presentations.
  • To enhance students’ skills in literary and cultural analysis by engaging critically with a multidisciplinary body of material



Balún Canán, by Rosario Castellanos

Yawar Fiesta, by José María Arguedas

Selected short stories from Encancaranublado y otros cuentos del naufragio, by Ana Lydia Vega



Madeinusa, by Claudia Llosa


Tango: a selection of songs by Carlos Gardel, Amelita Baltar, Astor Piazzolla and Gotan Project.
Cumbia: a selection of songs from Colombian, Peruvian and Argentinian cumbia, including by Lucho Bermúdez, Los Mirlos, and Damas Gratis.

Teaching and learning methods


Group work

Presentations given by groups of students

Seminar discussions

Medium of language


English (though the material is in Spanish)



Knowledge and understanding

  • An understanding of Latin America as one of the most multicultural regions in the world
  • An understanding of the tensions and mixtures between the main cultural systems and epistemologies in Latin America (Western, indigenous and African)
  • An understanding of the many ways in which Latin American multiculturalism has shaped and been represented in various forms of cultural production (mainly film, literature and music)
  • The ability to discuss different Latin American intellectual traditions 

Intellectual skills

  • To engage critically with different cultural products (literature, art, music, cinema)
  • To develop arguments related to culture, history and society
  • To be able to discuss theoretical material and connect it with the analysis of cultural products

Practical skills

  • Improve the ability to read Spanish

  • Improve vocabulary and syntax in Spanish

  • The ability to work effectively in collaboration with other students, and sustain written and oral arguments coherently

  • The ability to read and interpret critically

  • The ability to design and deliver an oral presentation in a formal context

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Demonstrate independent and critical thinking
  • Demonstrate an ability to present material and ideas individually and collectively in oral and written form
  •  An ability to participate in group discussions
  •  An ability to understand multicultural/multiracial issues 

Employability skills

See additional information

Assessment methods



Assessment task

Formative or Summative


Weighting within unit (if summative)

Mid-term short essay


1000 words


Group presentations


(Part of a seminar session will be used to provide formative feedback on the ideas and plans for presentations).

20 min


Final essay


(Students will be offered the possibility of submitting a draft of the essay for summative assessment)

4,000 words



Feedback methods

  • Feedback method

    Formative or Summative

    Comments during seminars


    Written feedback on presentations



    Written feedback on essays



    Additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment)



Recommended reading

·       ·         Ana del Sarto, Alicia Ríos, and Abril Trigo, The Latin American Cultural Studies Reader (Durham; London : Duke University Press, 2004).

·         Fernández L’Hoeste, Héctor D., ‘All Cumbias, the Cumbia: The Latin Americanization of a Tropical Genre’, in Imagining Our Americas: Towards a Transnational Frame, ed. by Sandhya Shukla, and Heidi Tinsman (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007), pp. 338-64

·         McKee Irwin, Robert, and Mónica Szurmuk, Dictionary of Latin American Cultural Studies (Florida: University of Florida Press, 2015).

·         Pacini Hernández, Deborah, ‘Amalgamating Musics: Popular Music and Cultural Hybridity in the Americas’, in Musical Migrations: Transnationalism and Cultural Hybridity in Latin/o America, edited by Frances Aparicio and Candida Jáquez (Basingstoke: Palgrave/MacMillan, 2003), pp.13-32. 

·         Pratt, Mary Louise, ‘Arts of the Contact Zone’, Profession, 91 (1991), 33-40. 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Seminars 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ignacio Aguilo Unit coordinator

Additional notes


The unit will be useful for those considering careers in multicultural/international environments or that require intercultural awareness. It will particularly useful for those willing to work in Latin America.

The module will be also be useful for those considering jobs in which excellent Spanish language skills are required, given that, by engaging with complex literary and cultural texts in the original, students will increase their vocabulary and improve their syntax. Finally, this course will be beneficial for those contemplating careers in the publishing industry and creative industries, given that we will engage comprehensively with different cultural products.

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