This seminar constitutes an introduction to the study of Cuba from a historical perspective. During the first half of the semester the course follows a chronological approach, covering the political and socioeconomic development of the country from the sixteenth century to the present. In the second half of the semester, it examines a series of sociocultural issues that are central to the life of contemporary Cubans, on the island and abroad. At the core of the class lies an interrogation of the relevance of the Cuban case for larger discussions on colonialism, modernity, socialism and development.
Latin American Studies Courses
Cuban History, Politics and Culture
Instructors: Adrian Lopez-Denis
Politics and Social Change in Latin America, 1968-Present
How did Latin American civilians organize publicly to protest democratic and authoritarian rulers? This course will look at the ways in which citizens responded to social, political, and economic policies in a turbulent time to create new understandings of human rights and social identities. Our case studies will focus especially on Buenos Aires, Santiago, Mexico City, and Caracas. To tackle the theme of popular politics, we will use a special collection of posters, leaflets, broadsheets, cartoons, and placards. We will use them to learn about the voices of protest, the strategies of organizing, and the search for narratives.
Instructors: Fernando E. Acosta-Rodriguez, Jeremy Ian Adelman
Interdisciplinary Design Studio
The course focuses on the social forces that shape design thinking. Its objective is to introduce architectural and urban design issues to build design and critical thinking skills from a multidisciplinary perspective. The studio is team-taught from faculty across disciplines to expose students to the multiple forces within which design operates.
Instructors: Mario Isaac Gandelsonas
Theory, History, and Practice of Textiles: The Andes
How many minutes of your day are spent with some form of textile touching your skin? And yet, what do you really know about them? This seminar will introduce you to the theory, history and practice of making textiles through the lens of the ancient Andes. You will experiment extensively with technologies human societies have used for spinning, dyeing, and weaving in an art historical laboratory setting, and use these experiences to shed insight on the collection of ancient Andean textiles in the Princeton University Art Museum. You and your classmates will collaboratively design, weave, and complete a tapestry over the course of the semester.
Instructors: Andrew James Hamilton
Contemporary Latin America in Literature and Visual Arts
This course is an introduction to contemporary Latin American literature & visual arts with a transatlantic perspective. Placing special emphasis on the changing relationships between aesthetics & politics, it analyzes different genres & artistic styles that emerge with new forms of imagining the relations between culture & politics, from the 1960s to the present. Readings will include critical texts on minor literature's, transatlantic connections, new social movements as well as literature dealing with situationism, romance reportagem, indigenous movements, testimonio, zapatism, etc. Texts will be available in the original & translation.
Instructors: Susana Draper
Topics in Francophone Literature, Culture, and History: Aimé Césaire
This course will study a selection of the writings of Aimé Césaire, a towering figure of the 20th century in poetry, theatre, and postcolonial critique and politics. Césaire's poetry is arguably the most accomplished oeuvre of any anticolonial poet of the century, and a pinnacle of modernist French poetry tout court. Similarly, Césaire's theatrical works are outstanding moments in the creation of a theatre of decolonization, while his celebrated critical pieces, such as the "Discours sur le colonialisme", articulate the ethical and political grounds for the struggle to end colonialism.
Instructors: F. Nick Nesbitt
Colonial Latin America to 1810
This course begins with the origins and consolidation of the Aztec, Inca and Iberian polities and ends with the severance of colonial ties. It combines an overview of the political economy of the region over three centuries with a study of how social groups interacted among themselves and with imperial rule over time through accommodation and conflict. We pay special attention to comparisons and contrasts -- centers and frontiers of settlement, urban and rural life, indigenous and African populations, religion and transgression, Portuguese and Spanish models of rule -- and to long-term processes and implications of environmental change.
Instructors: Vera Silvina Candiani
Colonial Latin America to 1810
Covers the history, historiography and theory of Latin America's early modernity. Readings offer a vehicle to discuss questions such as why some types of historical questions seem more urgent than others at different times and what are the origins and meanings of historiographical shifts over the evolution of the field. To explore such questions and find out what problems of past historiographical traditions remain unsolved and deserve a new look, both classic texts and more recent works that display new approaches are read, often in counterpoint. Students of early modernity, colonial empires and world history will profit from the course.
Instructors: Vera Silvina Candiani
Modern Latin American History Since 1810
Course examines interactions between states and citizens since Latin American independence with an additional consideration of the region's integration into global economic and political systems.
Instructors: Robert A. Karl
Topics in Brazilian Cultural and Social History: Sound and Sense
What happens when sound and sense meet? Do silent letters provoke sound and movement? Is sound political and does it have a grammar? We will explore how the distinction between music and mere noise informs our understanding of politics and history. In a journey through sound events, composition, performance, fiction, poetry and journalism, with a special focus on Brazil from the birth of the Republic (1889) to the present, this seminar explores the points at which the aural, the corporeal and the linguistic become entangled. Musical genres we will study include funk, tecnobrega, hip hop, samba, club music, bossa nova and more.
Instructors: Pedro Meira Monteiro
This course will explore the supposedly "untranslatable" concept of saudade from a number of angles. We will examine the political, economic, cultural and aesthetic manifestations of saudade and its myriad social implications through analysis of literary and sociology texts, music, cinema, and more from across the lusophone world. Particular attention will be paid to the prevalence of saudosismo in pop culture where classical texts and forms often make surprising appearances.
Instructors: Nicola Trowbridge Cooney
Luso-Brazilian Seminar-Visual Arts & the Humanities (Half-Term)
The seminar challenges students of literature, cultural studies, and history to "read" images. We often see photographs, drawings, caricatures, and engravings as mere illustrations, which confirm preconceived ideas. However, just as culture does not merely reflect reality, images can be understood as documents endowed with their own agency, thus able to create new contexts, habits, and even political and cultural mores. Through scholarly discussions on the visual arts, history and literature, we focus on a wide array of visual works in Brazil, from colonial times to our contemporaneity.
Instructors: Lilia Katri Moritz Schwarcz
Urban Sociology: The City and Social Change in the Americas
By taking a comparative approach, this course examines the role of social, economic, and political factors in the emergence and transformation of modern cities in the United States and selected areas of Latin America. We consider the city in its dual image: both as a center of progress and as a redoubt of social problems, especially poverty. Attention is given to spatial processes that have resulted in the aggregation and desegregation of populations differentiated by social class and race.
Instructors: Patricia Fernández-Kelly
Of Shipwreck and Other Disasters
Flotsam. Jetsam. Hunger. Nudity. Lone survivors washed ashore. What can tales of shipwreck tell us about the cultures, societies and technologies that produce them? We read narratives and watch films of disaster and survival from the sixteenth century to the present, with an eye to how these texts can challenge or reinforce the myths that empires and nation-states tell about themselves and others.
Instructors: Nicole D. Legnani
Identity in the Hispanic World
What does it mean to be Latin American? Hispanic? Spanish? Peruvian? Latina/o/x? How are national and alternate identities constructed and why? How are ideas of belonging to the body politic defined in Spain, Latin America, and in Spanish-speaking communities in the United States from within and without? Our course will engage this question by surveying and analyzing literary, historical, and visual productions from the time of the foundation of the Spanish empire to the present time.
Instructors: Christina H. Lee
Poisonous Flowers: Radical Women in Latin America
The starting point is the art show Radical Women: Latin American Art (Los Angeles, 2017). The exhibition reevaluates the contribution of Latin American, Latina, and Chicana women to contemporary art. "Poisonous Flowers" examines the productions of outstanding Latin American female whose work has challenged our understanding of politics and the arts and had significant impact on lives and histories in the region.
Instructors: Javier Enrique Guerrero
Topics in Latin American Modernity: Latin American Literature after Latin America
This course examines recent literature and film from Latin America (~ past ten years). The course focuses on novels, essays and poems that address various issues across divergent regions, nations, movements, and experiences, including precarious life in the wake of widely implemented neo-liberal economic policies, environmental challenges, border culture, new forms of auto-fiction, young authors' reflections on a prior generations' politics, etc.
Instructors: Rachel Lee Price
Topics in Latin American Cultural Studies: Spectacles of Nature: Patagonia and the Tropics
What is nature? How is it perceived, modified, destroyed, and represented in history and culture? This course explores these questions in relation to the location of Latin American nature in modernity, through travelogues, literature, photography, and film. Focusing on legendary Patagonia and the Tropics, we'll examine the interplay between the two opposite images that have dominated modern perceptions of 'extreme' nature (and the peoples associated with it): the idea of nature as a monstrous being that has to be tamed for the sake of progress, and the idea of nature as the lost object of modern nostalgia and environmental ethos.
Instructors: Maria Gabriela Nouzeilles
Hispanic Studies: Introduction to Cultural Analysis
An introduction to the analysis of contemporary cultural texts (narrative, poetry, film, photography) from Latin America and Spain, with the support of various theoretical ideas. The course's main objective is to provide students with a set of strong conceptual, analytical and linguistic skills, which will be of great help in 300-level literature/culture courses.
Instructors: Manuel-Angel G. Loureiro
Junior Seminar: Spanish and Portuguese-Speaking Worlds
The junior seminar discusses major challenges to the study of culture, literature and society in Portuguese and Spanish-speaking countries. Focusing on text and audiovisual materials, students will acquire methodological tools to develop their own independent research projects. Topics may include: identity, memory, democracy, visual arts, health, race, gender, migration, global cities, sustainability, climate change, citizenship, and digital humanities. It is co-taught in English, with sources in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Students are welcome to use any of the three languages in their written work.
Instructors: Christina H. Lee, Nicole D. Legnani
Narrative Prose in Latin America: Cuban Cultural History 1868-2017
This course provides an overview of Cuban cultural history from the Ten Years War to the present (1868-2017). Reading widely across historiography, cultural studies, literature, ethnomusicology, and art history, the course also examines primary documents ranging from constitutions to poetry, ethnography, novels, film, and essays. Topics include black political activism in the Republic; women's participation in pre-revolutionary movements, essays and films from the 1960s; post-Special Period genres, etc.
Instructors: Rachel Lee Price
Memory and Human Rights Politics in Contemporary Latin American Cultures
This course aims to introduce students to the role played by culture in developing different politics of memory and human rights in Latin American recent history, from the end of the last military dictatorships to the present. Looking at literature, testimony, film, photography, museums and sites of memory, the course analyzes how cultural works on memory and human rights have helped to create connections between past and present histories of both violence and resistance.
Instructors: Susana Draper