Fall 2020 Latin American Studies Courses
Environmental Sovereignties: Indigenous Social Movements in the Americas
In this course we will examine how Indigenous peoples in the Americas have mobilized in the protection of environmental rights, against extractivism, and in defense of natural resource, territorial, and political sovereignty. We will draw connections and explore differences in the panorama of Indigenous social movements in hemispheric perspective, and the nature of state and elite responses to these protest movements. In so doing, we will draw out a broader understanding of how flashpoint moments of protest expose the political, social, and colonial fault lines that underpin everyday life in the Americas.
Instructors: Bridgette Kathleen Werner
Journalism, Politics, and Power in Latin America
Journalism has played an outsized role in Latin America's political and cultural life, whether as a form of witnessing, an instrument of analysis or a tool for resistance and revolt. This course will look at work from across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, exploring different approaches writers have taken, and highlighting a series of recurrent themes, foremost among them journalism's tangled relationship with power. We will mainly focus on print, but will also deal with film, TV, and photography. Throughout, students will be encouraged to reflect on parallels between the reportage of the past and the contemporary media landscape.
Health, Education and Work in Latin America
This course explores how health, education and work impact vulnerability and inequality in Latin America. Drawing from comparative studies, the seminar assesses these structural aspects of well-being and social development with an eye towards policy implications.On health we will examine overall disparities in care access and outcomes, persistent but neglected issues such as mental health and violence and emerging issues such as the preparedness for global epidemics. On education, enrollment, performance and how it relates to a changing world. On work, we will discuss employment patterns and wage inequality across race, ethnicity, and gender.
Instructors: Marcelo Medeiros
Political Natures: The Politics of Nature and Development in Latin America
Popular imaginaries depict Latin America as both brimming with pristine nature and afflicted with devastating environmental degradation. This seminar explores Latin American nature as an ecological, political and cultural creation, asking: Where do these imaginaries of pristine/despoiled nature come from? How are they used, perpetuated or debunked by scientists, Indigenous peoples, politicians and NGOs? We apply these questions to an array of environmental issues, including climate change, deforestation and ecotourism, to analyze the effects of these imaginaries on people's lived experiences of nature, conservation and economic development.
Cross-listed courses by catalogue number
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
Of Love and Other Demons
Love is the subject of the world's greatest stories. The passions aroused by Helen of Troy brought down a city and made Homer's masterpiece possible, while the foolishness of those in love inspired Shakespeare and Cervantes to create their most memorable characters. Many powerful Latin American and Spanish stories deal with the force and effects of love. In this course, we will study a group of films and literary fictions that focus on different kinds and forms of love. We will pay special attention to the forms of narrative love (quest, courting, adultery, heartbreaking), as well as the translation of love into language, body, and image.
Instructors: Javier Enrique Guerrero
Languages of the Americas
This course explores the vast linguistic diversity of the Americas: native languages, pidgins, creoles, mixed languages, and other languages in North, Central, and South America, including the Caribbean. We will examine historical and current issues of multilingualism to understand the relationship between language, identity, and social mobility. We will discuss how languages played a central role in colonization and nation-building processes, and how language policies contribute to linguistic loss and revitalization. This course has no prerequisites and is intended for students interested in learning more about languages in the Americas.
Instructors: Dunia Catalina Méndez Vallejo
Wildness, Whiteness, and Manliness in Colonial Latin America
What did it mean to be "wild," "manly" or "white" in Early Modernity, and how do these categories function today? This course explores films made in the last fifty years, featuring "descents into savagery" and the colonial texts that inspired them. Among other topics, we'll discuss: coloniality and its effects; primitivism and progress; media and mediation; race and gender; healing practices; intercultural dialogues; and community-based performances.
Instructors: Nicole D. Legnani
Identity in the Hispanic World
How are ideas of belonging to the body politic defined in Spain, Latin America, and in Spanish-speaking communities in the United States? Who is "Latin American," "Latinx," "Chino," "Moor," "Guatemalan," "Indian," etc.? Who constructs these terms and why? Who do they include/exclude? Why do we need these identity markers in the first place? Our course will engage these questions by surveying and analyzing literary, historical, and visual productions from the time of the foundation of the Spanish empire to the present time in the Spanish speaking world.
Instructors: Christina H. Lee
Colonial Latin America to 1810
What is colonization? How does it work? What kind of societies does it create? Come find out through the lens of the Latin America. First we study how the Aztec and Inca empires subdued other peoples, and how Muslim Iberia fell to the Christians. Then, we learn about Spanish and Portuguese conquests and how indigenous resistance, adaptation, and racial mixing shaped the continent. You will see gods clash and meld, cities rise and decline, and insurrections fail or win. Silver mines will boom and bust, slaves will toil and rebel; peasants will fight capitalist encroachments. This is a comprehensive view of how Latin America became what it is.
Instructors: Vera Silvina Candiani
Topics in Brazilian Cultural and Social History: Performing Brazilian Culture
Students will be introduced to Brazilian culture through the concept and practice of performance and the creation of characters. What are the stereotypes of Brazilian culture? How are they constructed and parodied? What is the role of humor in social criticism? How does TV represent class, gender and racial conflicts? How can we criticize culture within the popular media? What are the relations between center and periphery, popular culture and high culture, literature and ecology? How is the body performed and represented? Dance, music, poetry, theater, films and fiction will be part of a final performance about Brazil and its multiple faces.
Instructors: Marilia Librandi
Topics in Latin American Modernity: The Culture of the Cuban Revolution
After Fidel Castro marched into Havana in January 1959, a cultural revolution followed the political one: literature, the arts, architecture, film, and dance sought to break with the past and proposed new, utopian ways of artmaking. This seminar will offer an overview of some of the most important cultural productions of this era, including films, novels, political essays, and architectural works, which ended by the early 1970s with the rise of censorship.
Instructors: Rubén Gallo
Topics in Latin American Literature and Ideology: Art, Memory, and Human Rights in Latin America
This course studies artistic and cultural practices that created different aesthetics and politics of memory that have become essential in order to respond, denounce, and creatively resist to different forms of violence and human rights violations. Looking at literature, visual arts, memory museums, and film, the course will pay special attention to different articulations among visual, discursive, and territorial regimes of signification, from the 1950s to the present. Some classes will be held at the Art Museum in order to work with materials from the Latin American collection.
Instructors: Susana Draper
This course surveys Olmec and related material culture spanning roughly 2000-500 B.C., including architecture and monumental sculpture, ceramic vessels and figurines, and exquisite small-scale sculpture in jade and other precious materials. Of central theoretical importance is the question of how we understand and interpret art from a distant past, especially without the aid of contemporaneous written records. We will focus on original works of art, including works in the Princeton University Art Museum and in regional collections. Issues of authenticity, quality, and provenance related to these works will also be considered.
Instructors: Bryan R. Just
Latin American Politics
Democracy and military rule. Revolutions and social movements. Economic booms and busts. This class debates these core themes in contemporary Latin American politics in order to better understand 21st century opportunities and challenges in the region. We discuss enduring and yet uneven democracies; rising populism and weak parties; neoliberal and statist development strategies; crime and violence; ethnic and racial inequalities; and contentious politics and social protest. The course adopts a thematic focus and evaluates competing theoretical debates in the context of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, and Venezuela.
Instructors: Deborah J. Yashar
Latin American Philosophy
The course deals with philosophy as practiced in Latin America from the Spanish Conquest until the contemporary period. Unifying themes are race, identity, and the relationship between European influences and the specific circumstances of Latin America. We will explore these themes by examining the following topics among others: the use of Aristotelian ideas in debates about the appropriate treatment of the indigenous populations of the Americas; and ways in which Latin American thinkers employed ideas of the French enlightenment, Comte's positivism and Marxist concepts to articulate programs for political and cultural change.
Instructors: Hendrik Lorenz
The Skins of the Film: Latin America and the Politics of Touching
Film is comprised of multiple surfaces: the screen, the actors, the structure of the darkroom, the mobile devices of the audiovisual present, the bodies that vibrate around us, the actual strip of plastic that records the images... Critics have already broadly debated how film touches us politically and emotionally. This seminar formulates a different question: how do we touch film? In Latin America, the interaction between filmic skins is founded on the relationship between art and politics. We will consider how filmmakers debate the politics of the surface and how spectatorship poses a deeply political problem for the region.
Instructors: Javier Enrique Guerrero
The Fiction of Mario Vargas Llosa
Mario Vargas Llosa, who received the Nobel prize in 2010, is the most important living writer in Latin America. His novels offer a unique perspective on 20th century Latin American history and politics, and deal with issues that include: dictatorship, Marxism, the conflicts between rich and poor, the left and the right, and gender stereotypes and dynamics. This seminar will offer an overview of his political fiction.
Instructors: Rubén Gallo
Poetry Matters: Latin American Poets and the Power of Language
Latin America is a land of poets who believe in the power of language and the craft of verse. If, according to Vicente Huidobro, the poet is a little god who can create new worlds with words, revolutionary poet Roque Dalton believed that poetry could change history. "La poesía es como el pan; debe ser compartido por todos," said Neruda. This course offers a brief history of modern Spanish American poetry from modernismo to slam poetry through a stellar row of Latin American poets and Nobel awardees, including César Vallejo, Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, Alejandra Pizarnik, Jorge Luis Borges, Roque Dalton, and Cecilia Vicuña.
Instructors: Maria Gabriela Nouzeilles
Race, Gender, Empire
How is empire made? How is it imagined and reimagined, mutating and creating new global relations? What are its social, political and material signatures? In this seminar we will explore how empire's derivative manifestations and entrenched mechanisms (e.g. race, gender or capitalism) influence our understandings of history and the structuring of our social relationships. Engaging transdisciplinary works we will focus on how empire constructs contradictory logics of belonging in localized contexts through the formation of intimate, biopolitical and ecological relationships between people, territories and collective institutions of governance.
Instructors: Tiffany Cherelle Cain
Art and Architecture in New Spain (Mexico) 1521-1821
The course will examine the historiography and history of architecture and visual arts of New Spain during the three centuries of Spanish rule. It will not be a survey in a traditional sense, but rather an examination in depth of a series of works/problems in Mexican art and architecture of the colonial (viceregal) period from the 16th to the early 19th centuries.
Global Exchange in Art and Architecture
The course will explore globalization in art and architecture c. 1500-1800, when the process of world-wide circulation began. It will investigate interchanges among Europeans, Africans, Asians, and Americans, their impact, and resistance to them.
Instructors: Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann
Luso-Brazilian Seminar: The Story as Gift
In one of his broadcast writings for children, Walter Benjamin says that the more we understand something, the more we can rejoice in it, and the less we're fixated on possessing it. In this Luso-Afro-Brazilian seminar we discuss how stories are crafted as gifts, as if, by sharing the story through a narrator, the author wanted to give it away, thus avoiding its possession. We test Benjamin's hypothesis: is literature an act of sharing, rather than keeping knowledge to ourselves?
Instructors: Pedro Meira Monteiro
Seminar in Colonial Spanish American Literature: Juana Inés de la Cruz, fénix de América
Studies a variety of texts (poetry, comedia, mystery play, apologia, letters) written by the most celebrated female Hispanic writer of the seventeenth century, widely considered to be the first feminist of the American hemisphere. Discussions include rhetoric and feminism; Sor Juana's literary forbearers;freedom and repression in the convent; correspondence with other writers in the viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru; performances of gender and sexuality in colonial Mexico; polemics and representations of the figure of Juana Inés de la Cruz today.
Instructors: Nicole D. Legnani
Mimesis and Difference in Modern Latin American Literature and Art
This seminar explores the role of mimesis and alterity in political and cultural representation in modern Latin America, focusing on some of its most enduring symbolic articulations in the literary, artistic, and scientific archives from the nineteenth century to the present-a long durée history characterized by revolutions, mass political mobilizations, subaltern uprisings, developmentalism, economic inequality, and utopian thinking. We focus on racial and sexual difference and subalternity in Latin America's contradictory foundational fictions and some of its more powerful and controversial rewritings.
Instructors: Maria Gabriela Nouzeilles