Artists, Intellectuals, and Social Change in Latin America
Professor Patrick Iber
Spring 2014 / 2303 Dwinelle / F 2-4PM
Latin American history has featured horrific dictatorships and turbulent revolutions. In spite of this instability, or perhaps because of it, the region has also consistently produced one first-class export: the work of its artists, writers, and intellectuals. This course looks at the myth and reality of Latin American intellectuals—often said to be more influential politically than in any other region of the world—over the course of the region’s modern history. (Gabriel García Márquez once quipped that “In the history of power in Latin America, there are only military dictatorships or intellectuals.”) How have Latin American artists and writers used their cultural production to expose injustice? When have those attempts made things better, and when worse? By looking at the historical literature—supplemented with poetry, memoir, painting, and film—this course will examine the important role of Latin American intellectuals in creating social change in the region.
Angel Rama, The Lettered City, Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996, ~$22.
Jorge Coronado, The Andes Imagined: Indigenismo, Society, and Modernity, Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009, ~$27.
Jorge Castañeda, Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara, New York: Vintage, 1998, ~$15. (Kindle edition available for $12.)
Jorge Edwards, Persona non grata: A Memoir of Disenchantment with the Cuban Revolution, New York: Nation Books, 2004. Kindle edition is available for $10, and many used copies for $1 and up.)
David Craven, Art and Revolution in Latin America, 1910-1990, 2nd edition, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006, $30.
Salman Rushdie, The Jaguar Smile: A Nicaraguan Journey, New York: Random House, 2008, $14.
Fernando Henrique Cardoso, The Accidental President of Brazil, New York: PublicAffairs, 2007, $12.
Presentation: Starting in week 3, our discussion will be led by a student who has prepared a short presentation of approximately10-15 minutes, drawing out the major questions raised by the week’s readings. Presentations should be practiced and polished, and end by posing one or two central questions to begin discussion.
For the rest of your grade, you should write approximately 20 pages. You can choose how to distribute those pages either as a) five short review papers; b) a mixture of review papers and a shorter final; or c) a long final.
- Short review papers of approximately four pages are to be turned in before class in any week of the quarter. You are free to write in the form that you choose, but each paper should be an essay that relates that week’s reading to at least one of the major themes of the course: intellectual responsibility, the relationship of events to the formation of political opinion, or the impact of the intellectual on politics, etc.
- Whether short or long, I suggest two formats for final papers but I am open to alternate plans. The first suggestion is to find an intellectual or literary review and examine it in its most important year(s). What was its project, politically and aesthetically? What did it expect to achieve its goals? Who contributed to it and why? As a useful exercise, I would encourage you to do this without consulting the secondary literature. An alternative final paper structure would involve writing a short biography of an intellectual of interest to you.
- All writers who strive to write good prose would do well to read George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” at least once a year: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm
Your grade will be calculated as 20% discussion; 20% presentation; 60% papers.
March 24-28: SPRING BREAK