BA Film Studies and Russian / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
The Supernatural in Latin American Literature and Film

Course unit fact file
Unit code SPLA31132
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Contemporary Latin American fiction and film has produced a significant number of important works in which supernatural occurrences — in the form of magic, ghosts, or other seemingly inexplicable phenomena — seem entirely at home in otherwise realistic settings. In this unit students will investigate the features which make these supernatural fictions distinctive to Latin America, drawing links between them and the region’s cultural traditions and history. Adopting a global perspective, students will place these texts within the larger contexts of transnational literary modes (gothic fiction, surrealism) and cinema genres (horror films). A range of works will be studied but particular attention will be paid to one of the most important novels of Spanish American magical realism: Gabriel García Márquez’s Cien años de soledad


Available on: SPLA Programme


This course will 
•    enhance students’ knowledge of Latin American literature and film;
•    improve understanding of the relationships between theory and criticism;
•    enhance comprehension of the relationship between regional and global modes of cultural production;
•    develop analysis of complex texts with focus, precision and perspective;
•    deepen knowledge of contemporary Spanish language; 
•    explore different rationales behind various interpretations and types of reception;
•    broaden intellectual interests and cultural awareness.


Knowledge and understanding

•    identify and define elements of different literary trends and film genres;
•    gain an overview of the social, political and cultural context of several Latin American countries through different literary works and films;
•    understand and trace part of the critical reception of selected texts;
•    gain an integrated understanding of an important corpus of cultural products by focusing on common features.

Intellectual skills

•    read and analyse selected texts in detail and in close relation to specific cultural, political and historical contexts;
•    analyse selected texts and apply this understanding to other cultural practices;
•    evaluate critically and reflectively different forms of reception and make reasoned arguments for particular points of view;
•    reflect on different modes of fictional texts.

Practical skills

•    work effectively in collaboration with other students;
•    sustain written and oral arguments coherently;
•    use library, electronic and online resources;
•    read in Spanish at an academic level;
•    plan and execute independent research.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

•    work effectively in group environments and collaborate in group discussions; 
•    reflect on different aspects of analysis and interpretation;
•    enhance their ability to listen effectively and make a constructive contribution to a discussion;
•    improve learning through planning, critical reflection, and evaluating and adapting learning strategies.

Employability skills

- Comprehension and communication skills in a foreign language (Spanish). - Analytical skills developed via independent evaluation of arguments in relevant literature. - Oral communication skills developed via seminar discussion. - Writing skills developed via essays. - Independent research, time management and organizational skills.

Assessment methods

Assessment task Formative or Summative Weighting within unit (if Summative)
Essay (mid-term, formative for the exam and presentations) Summative 50%
Exam Summative 50%

Feedback methods

•    Formative feedback throughout the course regarding conclusions of seminar discussions and of Q and A component of lectures.
•    Oral feedback tutorials on essay planning.
•    Written summative feedback on essay.
•    Additional one-to-one detailed formative feedback (during office hours or by making an appointment).

Recommended reading

Set texts: 

Gothic modernista tales, 1898-1923 

     (selections from Clemente Palma, V. García Calderón, and César Vallejo) 

María Luisa Bombal, La amortajada, 1938. 

Gabriel García Márquez, Cien años de soledad, 1967. 

César Aira, Los fantasmas, 1990. 

Luis Buñuel (dir.) El ángel exterminador, 1962. 

Guillermo del Toro (dir.) Cronos, 1993. 

Alejandro Brugués (dir.) Juan de los muertos, 2011. 


Further reading: 

Agosín, Marjorie; Elena Gascón Vera & Joy Renjilian-Burgy (eds.) María Luisa Bombal: apreciaciones críticas (Editorial Bilingüe, 1987). 

Angulo, María Elena. Magical Realism: Social Context and Discourse (Garland, 1995). 

Areco, Macarena & Patricio Lizama (eds.) Biografía y textualidades, naturaleza y subjetividad: ensayos sobre la obra de María Luisa Bombal (Ediciones UC, 2014). 

Bell-Villada, Gene H. Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude: A Casebook (OUP, 2002). 

Borinsky, Alicia. Theoretical Fables: The Pedagogical Dream in Contemporary Latin American Literature (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993). 

Bowers, Mary Ann. Macig(al) Realism (Routledge, 2004). 

Bravo, José Antonio. Lo real maravilloso en la narrativa latinoamericana actual (Unifé, 1984).  

Chanady, Amaryll Beatrice. Magical Realism and the Fantastic: Resolved Versus Unresolved Antinomy (Garland, 1985). 

Drezner, Daniel W. Theories of International Politics and Zombies. Revised edition (Princeton, 2014). 

Duncan, Cynthia. Unraveling the Real: The Fantastic in Spanish American Ficciones (Temple University Press, 2010). 

Erickson, Daniel. Ghosts, Metaphor, and History in Toni Morrison's Beloved and Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). 

Faris, Wendy B. Ordinary Enchantments: Magical Realism and the Remystification of Narrative (Vanderbilt University Press, 2004). 

Hart, Stephen M. & Wen-chin Ouyang. A Companion to Magical Realism (Tamesis, 2010). 

Janes, Regina. One Hundred Years of Solitude: Modes of Reading (Twayne, 1991). 

Kostopolos-Cooperman, Celeste. The Lyrical Vision of Maria Luisa Bombal (Tamesis, 1994). 

López Gonzálvez, Encarnación. ‘De la tradición gótica en la literatura hispanoamericana: “La granja blanca”, de Clemente Palma’, Brumal: Revista de Investigación sobre lo Fantástico, II,2 (Autumn, 2014), pp. 177-186. 

McDonald, Keith & Roger Clark. Guillermo del Toro: Film as Alchemic Art (Bloomsbury, 2015). 

Maguire, Emily A. ‘Walking Dead in Havana: Juan of the Dead and the Zombie Film Genre’, in Jennifer L. Feeley & Sarah Ann Wells (eds.) Simultaneous Worlds: Global Science Fiction Cinema (University of Minnesota Press, 2015), pp. 171-188. 

Mason, Nancy K. Breaking Traditions: the Fiction of Clemente Palma (Bucknell, 1988). 

Menton, Seymour. Historia verdadera del realismo mágico (FCE, 1998). 

Lewis, Tess. ‘César Aira's Magical Surrealism’, The Hudson Review 64.1 (Spring 2011), pp. 127-137. 

Monelt-Viera, Molly. ‘Post-Boom Magical Realism: Appropriations of Transformation of a Genre’, Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, 38.1 (2004), pp. 95-117. 

Mora, Gabriela. Clemente Palma: el modernismo en su versión decadente y gótica (IEP, 2000). 

Morehead, John W. The Supernatural Cinema of Guillermo del Toro: Critical Essays (M

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jose Valentino Gianuzzi Unit coordinator

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