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BA Latin and Spanish / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Transnational Identities in Latin American Literature

Unit code SPLA30011
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Spanish, Portuguese and Latin
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


When Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara declared in 1952 that inhabitants of Latin America comprised ‘a single mestizo race from Mexico to the Strait of Magellan’ he was referring to one of the region’s preeminent and persistent concerns: transnational identity. Since the end of the Spanish Empire many writers have wrestled with the relations between Latin American regional, national and transnational identities, as well as with the very idea of ‘Latin America’. This course unit will introduce students to a range of narratives, both prose and graphic, that explore these issues within Latin America from the mid-twentieth century to the present. Analysing the specificities of different narrative forms, including novels, short stories and graphic fiction, students will look at issues such as transnational encounters, regional identities (e.g. Andean or Caribbean), exile, globalisation, and Latin America’s relationship to the US and Europe. For non-Spanish speakers set texts will be available in English translation.


  • To introduce students to a selection of narratives that address local, national, regional and transnational identities within Latin America
  • To develop an awareness of how culture can explore, engage with and question pressing issues within Latin American politics and society
  • To explore how different narrative forms, both prose and graphic, shape the way that we read texts

Learning outcomes

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



Below is an indicative list of texts to be studied on the unit:


Julio Cortázar, selected short stories (1951-1966)

Carlos Sampayo and José Muñoz, selected stories from Alack Sinner (1975-1978) [Alack Sinner: Age of Innocence]

Gilbert Hernández, Human Diastrophism (1987-1988)

Gabriel García Márquez, El general en su laberinto (1989) [The General in His Labyrinth]

Roberto Bolaño, Amuleto (1999) [Amulet]

Gabriela Alemán, Poso Wells (2007) [Poso Wells]

PowerPaola, Virus tropical (2009) [Virus tropical]

Selected short stories


Teaching and learning methods

Lectures will introduce students to key concepts of national and transnational identity, to methods for reading narratives, including comics, and to the writers and texts to be analysed in seminars. In seminars students will explore the set texts via in-depth textual analysis and group discussion. For Spanish speakers, primary texts will be read in their original language of publication; for students who don’t speak Spanish, primary texts will be available in translation. The language of instruction and assessment is English.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Comment on the development and importance of regional and transnational discourses in Latin America
  • Synthesise and compare the way that issues related to regional and transnational identities in Latin America are addressed in prose and graphic narrative
  • Comment on the key literary qualities – including form, style, genre – of both narrative fiction and graphic novels

Intellectual skills

  • Analyse the social and political content of different narratives and how such issues can be placed within the broader panorama of Latin American history
  • Evaluate the key issues at stake within debates about regional, transnational and global identities
  • Carry out formal analysis of prose and graphic novels
  • Synthesise and evaluate diverse arguments and readings of the texts studied 

Practical skills

  • Read, understand and discuss literary and visual texts
  • Apply theory to specific texts
  • Work in groups
  • Present ideas effectively in written and oral forms

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Develop teamwork skills and participate in group discussions
  • Demonstrate independent thinking and research
  • Show awareness of the importance of culture for thinking about key social and political issues 

Employability skills

In addition to the skills listed above students will also gain a familiarity with cultural and social issues relevant to Latin America, important for students with an interest in working in or with countries from this region. Students will be expected to apply theoretical models to concrete texts and contexts, a skill that can demonstrate deep levels of critical thinking to potential employers. Working with visual as well as text-based material will also give students an opportunity to develop skills that may appeal to employers working within media, advertising and visual cultural production.

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or Summative


Weighting within unit (if summative)

Textual analysis

Summative and formative

1,500 words


Group presentation

Summative and formative

c.20m for 4 students




3,500 words




Assessment task





Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Oral and written feedback on textual analysis

formative and summative

Written feedback on group presentations

formative and summative

Written feedback on final essay


Individual consultations with teaching staff during office hours or by appointment.



Recommended reading

  • Chanady, Amaryll, ed. (1994) Latin American Identity and Constructions of Difference. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Fernández L’Hoeste, Héctor and Juan Poblete, eds. (2009) Redrawing the Nation: National Identity in Latin/o American Comics. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
  • Franco, Jean. (2002) The Decline and Fall of the Lettered City: Latin America in the Cold War. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Groensteen, Thierry. (2013) Comics and Narration. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.
  • Martin, Gerald. (1989) Journeys Through the Labyrinth. London: Verso.
  • Mignolo, Walter. (2005) The Idea of Latin America. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Park, Stephen M. (2014) The Pan American Imagination: Contested Visions of the Hemisphere in Twentieth-Century Literature. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
James Scorer Unit coordinator

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