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BA Latin and Spanish / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Cultures of Revolution in Latin America

Unit code SPLA20861
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Spanish, Portuguese and Latin
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Revolutionary Cultures of Latin America will look at how Latin Americans have used different forms of cultural expression to depict, critique and foment political revolution. Students on this unit will compare the origins, practices and outcomes of several revolutions that took place in Latin America during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including popular uprisings from below and state-led repression from above. They will then explore the varying ways in which those political transformations have been represented in Latin American culture, whether in literature, film, photography or other written and visual forms. Finally, they will consider how such political revolutions have, in turn, provoked revolutions in that very same cultural sphere.



  • To familiarise students with political revolutions in Latin America from the start of the twentieth century to the present
  • To introduce students to a range of written and visual texts that depict those revolutions
  • To help students think about the relationship between revolution and culture so that they can develop a framework for thinking about that relationship in other contexts
  • To improve students’ intercultural awareness
  • To improve students’ knowledge of Spanish



Below is an indicative list of revolutions and cultural texts to be studied on this unit (please note that not all revolutions/texts will be studied in any one year).


  • The Mexican Revolution (1910-1920): Mariano Azuela, Los de abajo; Mexican visual culture


  • Andean Revolutions (1920s-1940s): Pablo Neruda, Canto general; Ciro Alegría, El mundo es ancho y ajeno; photographs by Martín Chambi


  • The Cuban Revolution (1956-present): Memorias del subdesarrollo (dir. Tomás Gutiérrez Alea); Cuban Film Poster Art


  • Right-wing Revolutions (Argentina, 1950s-1970s): Rodolfo Walsh, Operación masacre; Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano López, El eternauta; La hora de los hornos (dir. Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino)


  • Central American Revolutions (1980s-1990s): Claribel Alegría, No me agarran viva; Rufina Amaya et al., Luciérnagas en El Mozote


  • Neoliberal Revolutions (Mexico, 1990s-present): photographs by Graciela Iturbide and Daniela Rossell

Teaching and learning methods

The lectures will introduce the various revolutions, cultural contexts and set texts studied on this unit. The seminars will be used to allow students to go into greater depth by discussing the set texts and accompanying readings. Seminar readings and activities will be posted on Blackboard in advance and other supplementary materials, such as online quizzes, will also be made available there. Set texts will be read/viewed in Spanish, though the language of instruction is English.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be familiar with:


  • some of the major revolutions in Latin America since the start of the twentieth century and their principal political causes and outcomes
  • selected cultural responses to those revolutions
  • how politics and cultural production can interact and inform each other and how they might apply this theoretical framework to other cultural products
  • basic theories of revolution and the differences between them


Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:


  • apply theories of revolution to specific historical contexts in Latin America
  • analyse the way that written or visual texts represent and respond to political revolution
  • evaluate and compare different strategies used by cultural producers to create meaning
  • synthesise diverse arguments about cultural texts and offer their own interpretation of those texts in both written and spoken form

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to demonstrate:

  • an ability to carry out close-textual analysis
  • an ability to work effectively in groups
  • improved written and spoken skills

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will have improved the following transferable skills:

  • written and oral communication
  • intercultural awareness and understanding
  • working in teams and participating in group discussion
  • independent thinking, research and planning
  • working with primary and secondary sources, both in English and Spanish

Assessment methods


Assessment task

Formative or Summative


Weighting within unit (if summative)

Essay (textual analysis)

Summative and formative

1,000 words


Group presentation

Summative and formative

20m (groups of 4 students)




3000 words



Feedback methods


Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on essay (textual analysis)

formative and summative

Oral and written feedback on presentations

formative and summative

Written feedback on essay

formative and summative

Individual consultations with teaching staff during office hours or by appointment



Recommended reading

  • Castro, Daniel. (1999) Revolution and Revolutionaries: Guerrilla Movements in Latin America
  • Chasteen, John Charles. (2006) Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America.
  • Craven, David. (2002) Art and Revolution in Latin America, 1910-1990
  • Franco, Jean. (2002) The Decline and Fall of the Lettered City: Latin America in the Cold War
  • Gonzalez, Mike and David Treece (1992) The Gathering of Voices: The Twentieth-Century Poetry of Latin America
  • Kumaraswami, Par and Niamh Thornton. (2007) Revolucionarias: Conflict and Gender in Latin American Narratives by Women
  • Swanson, Philip, ed. (2003) The Companion to Latin American Studies
  • Wright, Thomas C. (2001) Latin America in the Era of the Cuban Revolution

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
James Scorer Unit coordinator
Ignacio Aguilo Unit coordinator
Jose Valentino Gianuzzi Unit coordinator

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