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First-Year Writing Seminar: Latin American Literature and Culture in the Era of Globalization

Semester and Year FA 2016
Course Number FIRST-UG421
Section 001
Instructor Juan Carlos Aguirre
Units 4
Level U
Foundation Requirement  


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


In this writing seminar, students will explore cultural production Latin America during the last four decades. Our readings will pay particular attention to how literature, film, and mixed media have attempted to take stock of the region’s rapid cultural transformations in the era of globalization. This question becomes particularly important insofar as Latin America’s rapid urbanization over the last half century, as well as its increased integration into an emerging, global consumer culture, have together given rise to what Jean Franco calls a “crisis of the popular,” a term denoting inability of artists, writers, and other intellectuals to produce coherent representations of culture in the wake of these shifts. Some of the writers whose work we will examine, such as Alberto Fuguet, have responded to this crisis through a writing practice that integrates both literature and pop journalism. Specific readings will deal with specific topics such as urban life, consumerism, political activism, the construction of identity, and the observed divide between so-called “elite” and “popular” or “pop” cultures. Writing assignments will ask students to engage and experiment with different ways of thinking about and representing culture approached in our readings, and will ask them to reflect upon cultural artefacts in the context of scholarly theories of globalization. Part of the course will also focus on non-textual outlets for thinking about the globalization of culture such as film, radio storytelling, and popular music.

Course Type

First-Year Program: Writing Seminars (FIRST-UG)