BA Italian and Spanish / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Modern Latin American Literature

Course unit fact file
Unit code SPLA20882
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course introduces students to a wide range of literary genres from across Spanish America from the early 20th century to the present day. These texts, produced by both canonical and lesser-known authors, are used to investigate important themes in Latin American culture, such as nationalism and cosmopolitism (Vallejo, Neruda, Borges); class (Pacheco); political repression and censorship (Gambaro, Piñera); gender and eroticism (Pizarnik, Di Giorgio); dictatorship and memory (Bolaño); and US/Latin America relations (Luiselli). The course thus explores literary responses to key historical moments in the region. Texts will be read in Spanish.


Primary texts will be read in Spanish; teaching and assessment will take place in English.

Available on: All programmes related to Spanish.


  • To familiarise students with Latin American literature from the start of the twentieth century to the present
  • To introduce students to a range of written texts that can be read as responses to key historical moments in the region
  • To help students think about the relationship between literature, culture and history so that they can develop a framework for thinking about these relationships in other contexts
  • To improve students’ intercultural awareness
  • To improve students’ knowledge of Spanish

Knowledge and understanding

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

  • some of the most important authors of twentieth century Latin American literature and their principal works in a wide range of genres
  • key moments in Latin American history of the last 100 years
  • how politics, culture and literature can interact and inform each other
  • key literary theories
  • enhanced principles of close reading, critical reading, and literary analysis

Intellectual skills

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

  • read several literary works critically within specific historical contexts in Latin America
  • analyse the way that written texts represent or respond to historical events
  • evaluate and compare different strategies used by writers to create meaning
  • improve their engagement with diverse arguments about literary 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 increased ability to carry out close-textual analysis
  • enhanced skills for presenting and defending an argument
  • 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
  • participating in group discussions
  • independent thinking, research and planning
  • working with primary and secondary sources, both in English and Spanish

Employability skills

Analytical skills
TOURISM AND TRAVEL (intercultural communication, historical knowledge, and cultural understanding) POLITICS AND POLICY-MAKING (awareness of history of political events; role of culture in responding to and creating social change) CHARITIES AND NGOS (knowledge and assessment of social issues)
In addition to academic jobs (in teaching and research), the skills outlined above can be valuable assets for, among others, the following job sectors, both in relation to Latin America and beyond: JOURNALISM AND MEDIA (familiarity with Latin American social and historical contexts; greater command of Spanish and written English) TRANSLATION AND PUBLISHING (enhanced knowledge of literature and language; greater cultural awareness) BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (organisational skills; critical thinking and problem-solving)

Assessment methods

Assessment taskFormative or SummativeWeighting within unit (if summative)
Mid-term EssaySummative and formative40%
Final EssaySummative and Formative60%


Resit Assessment:




Feedback methods

Feedback method  

Formative or Summative 

Written feedback on both essays 

Formative and summative 

Written feedback on essay plans 


Oral feedback in seminar discussions 


Individual consultations with teaching staff during office hours or by appointment 


Recommended reading

Andrews, Chris. Robert Bolaño's Fiction: an Expanding Universe. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.

Boldy, Steven. A Companion to Jorge Luis Borges. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Tamesis, 2009.

Castro-Klarén, Sara. A Companion to Latin American Literature and Culture. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008.

Hart, Stephen M., A Companion to Latin American Literature. New ed. Woodbridge, Suffolk UK: Tamesis, 2007.

Hart, Stephen M. The Companion to Latin American Poetry. Cambridge University Press, 2018.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Project supervision 11
Seminars 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 156

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jose Valentino Gianuzzi Unit coordinator

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