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Spring 2019

SPAN 597 (M 6:00-9:00)

History, Time, and the Contemporary Latin American Stage
Sarah Townsend
This course will focus primarily on Latin American theater and performance from the past two decades while also taking specific plays and performances as an entry point for examining longer patterns and practices. Throughout the semester, we will reflect on the following questions: What exactly is the “contemporary”? When does it begin and end? What is its relationship to the past and future? Many theories of performance emphasize its “liveness”—the fact that it takes place in a specific here and now (or there and then)? But if this is so, how does theater represent history, and why does the stage seem to be such a haunted place? What happens when other media (such as film projections or digital media) are integrated into live performance? Could it be that the theater is a particularly apt space for understanding how multiple temporalities can coexist and act upon one another? We will special attention to the insights Latin American theater and performance can offer into these issues, given the fact that the region (and its theater) has historically been imagined as underdeveloped or “backward” in relation to other parts of the world such as the United States and Europe. 

Playwrights and theater groups we will likely study include Mariano Pensotti (Argentina); Lola Arias (Argentina); Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol (Mexico); Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes (Mexico); Mapa Teatro (Colombia); Ói Nóis Aqui Traveiz (Brazil); and Teatro Oficina (Brazil). Theorists and critics include Rebecca Schneider, Diana Taylor, Peggy Phelan, Richard Schechner, Fred Moten, and Nicholas Ridout.


SPAN 597 (T 6:00-9:00) 

Caribbean Imaginations of Sovereignty, Community, and Vulnerability 
Judith Sierra-Rivera 
A geography inscribed by a history of (neo)colonialism, the Caribbean Antilles have produced stories and theories that talk about sovereignty. “Sovereignty,” a concept that takes us beyond and through struggles for independence, acquires different names across the Hispanic, Anglo, French, and Dutch Caribbean. In all of its different versions, sovereignty seems to be attached to two other concepts: “community” and “vulnerability.” In this seminar, we will study how the combination of these three words reveals a particular set of political imaginations that propose a way of living not only for the Caribbean archipelago but also for a world in which life (bios) appears to be in a permanent vulnerable/dependent state. Some of the questions that will initiate our discussions include: What are the meanings that Caribbean (neo)colonial history has attached to “being sovereign”? How do Caribbean stories and theories propose and interpret the relationship between sovereignty, community, and vulnerability? Which of them have acquired notoriety in other literary/philosophical traditions? How are they consumed and used in dialogue with other geographies? Among others, we will engage with writings by Toussaint Louverture, Simón Bolívar, José Martí, Luisa Capetillo, Marcus Garvey, Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Frank Martinus Arion, Derek Walcott, and Édouard Glissant. Most of the texts have been translated into English, but a reading level of Spanish and French is recommended for this seminar.

SPAN 597 (TR 3:05-4:20)

The imperial Lyric in Habsburg Spain 
Mary Barnard 
Antonio de Nebrija remarked famously in his Gramática de la lengua castellana (1492) that “language has always been the companion of empire.” This course deals with poetry that is indeed the fitting companion of empire, informed as it is by the profound political and cultural transformations that began in large part with the imperial agendas of Habsburg emperor Charles V. It will explore how the construction of texts and new personal and political identities was highly conditioned by the crossing of boundaries:  the crossings into Italy (with its abundance of literary, artistic, and scientific production), trans-Mediterranean crossings to North Africa, and transatlantic crossings into the New World. Of particular importance is how the poetics of empire coexists with a poetics of love and solitude. A study of the nature of the new subject; the relation of rhetoric and modernity; memory and exile; the dynamics of vision; classical mythology; and Petrarchism will be particularly useful in the deciphering of the imperial lyric. Works of arts--paintings, portraits, heraldic and commemorative tapestries, and sculptures--will figure prominently in the exploration of the celebration and critique of the politics and ideology of empire. 


Fall 2018

SPAN 587 (TR 1:35-2:50)

Stylistic and Literary Criticism
John Ochoa


Spanish 566 (TR 3:05-4:20)

Contemporary Spanish Poetry 
Matthew Marr
This seminar will explore a rich harvest of movements and figures in Spanish poetry of the early twentieth century through the contemporary moment, with the twin goals of privileging the close reading of a significant number of primary works and deepening students’ understanding of the cultural, aesthetic, and social contexts in which these were produced. Beginning with a review of the vibrant panorama of “-ismos” at play in much early twentieth-century verse (and highlighting how these are in conversation with and against poetic/artistic tradition), the course will swiftly move toward a consideration of Peninsular poetry under fascism and dictatorship, its uses as a vehicle of social protest, its diverse inflections in a climate of postmodernism and democratic renewal, and its more recent evolution amidst the disquieting forces of neoliberalism, globalization, technophilia, and political/economic unrest.

SPAN 597 (F 8:00-11:00)

Los desafíos de la libertad y el liberalismo: Autoridad, política, y poder
Nicolás Fernández-Medina 
Este curso tiene tres vertientes: la literaria, la histórica, y la filosófica. A través de lecturas pormenorizadas en estos campos vía ensayos, poemas, tratados filosóficos, novelas, y obras teatrales, este seminario tiene como objetivo examinar el concepto de “libertad” y “liberalismo” en figuras como Aristóteles, Platón, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Jovellanos, Quintana, Larra, Espronceda, Bécquer, Rosalía de Castro, Coronado, Galdós, Krause, Marx, Bakunin, Nietzsche, Ortega y Gasset, y Gómez de la Serna.