Recently Offered Courses

FALL 2013

SPN 652 Colonial Spanish American Literature: Moral Geographies

This seminar will explore letters, chronicles, epic poetry, maps and other forms of colonial textuality related mainly to South America, from the early accounts of the European expansion to local mestizo production in early 1600. Structured as a workshop, the seminar will analyze primary texts in Spanish (and some Portuguese) along with contemporary criticism. The seminar will interrogate the intersection of geography (writing on land) and morals (customs, culture, etc) to produce a working concept of “moral geography”.

Main authors to be studied include: Columbus, Pero Vaz de Caminha, Vespucci, Cieza de León, Bartolomé de Las Casas, Alonso de Ercilla, Juan de Miramontes, Tito Cusi Yupanqui, Felipe Guaman Poma and Inca Garcilaso.

SPN 395  Introd to Latin American Literature I (colonial period) 

Literature and historiography of the Spanish empire and its colonies in the Americas. Beginning with the writings of Columbus and the cartographic imagination, in the first part the students will read texts produced during the conquest and the early evangelization, leading to intense debates on the nature of the Indians and the justice of the European occupation of the New World. In the second part, the focus will be on narrations of the formation of the new criollo culture of the vice-regal city. Emphasis will be on authors such as the mestizo Inca Garcilaso de la Vega and the Mexican nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Contemporary critical readings will complement class discussion.

SPRING 2013

HUS 252 Latin America Today

This course is designed to offer an introduction to the diverse histories, cultures, societies, economies and political systems of contemporary Latin America. Drawing on a variety of texts and cultural artifacts (literary prose, poetry, photography, historical and journalistic articles and documentary and fiction film), the course will seek to understand the features that define and question the unity of a large portion of the world with about 20 countries; and the challenging issues and promising traits that the region faces today in a globalized world. Ultimately, the course aims to answer the question of “what is Latin America today?”

SPN 396 Introduction to Spanish American Literature II

This survey course studies Spanish American “literature” from the late eighteenth century to late twentieth century. Students will read letters, essays, chronicles, narrative fiction, poetry and film produced in the vast territories and diverse cultures comprehended between Mexico, Central America, Spanish speaking Caribbean and South America.The course will explore the relation between historical movements and literary and cultural production, the formation of modern national discourses, local traditions and cosmopolitanism. Students will get familiar with the intellectual debates and language that accompanied the formation of a Latin American literature.

Fall 2012

SPN 435  Contemporary Latin American Literature

This course will review different “contemporary” narrative traditions in Latin America. The main focus will be on short fiction [cuento o narrativa breve], but poetry, essays, literary criticism and testimonial accounts will also be studied.
One of the main critical questions that will guide our review of about 20 Latin American authors from different countries is related to the problem of contemporaneity. What makes an author or a text a “contemporary”? How can we define contemporaneity in the highly diverse cultural area of Latin America and what is the importance of space or location in this? How can an old text be more contemporary than a new one? 
The class will have a seminar structure. Discussions will also touch on issues of gender, power, globalization, sexuality, colonialism, Latin America in the US, invention of traditions and relations between parents and children.  Authors to be studies include Aurora Arias, Jorge Luis Borges, Junot Díaz, Gabriel García Márquez, Elena Garro, José Luis González, José Emilio Pacheco, Elena Poniatowska, Virgilio Piñera, Blanca Varela, Juan Villoro, etc.

SPN 395  Introd to Latin American Literature I (colonial period) 

Literature and historiography of the Spanish empire and its colonies in the Americas. Beginning with the writings of Columbus and the cartographic imagination, in the first part the students will read texts produced during the conquest and the early evangelization, leading to intense debates on the nature of the Indians and the justice of the European occupation of the New World. In the second part, the focus will be on narrations of the formation of the new criollo culture of the vice-regal city. Emphasis will be on authors such as the mestizo Inca Garcilaso de la Vega and the Mexican nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Contemporary critical readings will complement class discussion.

Spring 2012

SPN 652  Colonial Latin American Lit: Utopian texts in the Andes

This seminar is structured as a reflection on utopian discourses in the Andes. We will begin analyzing early modern European narratives (Vespucci, More) in the humanist tradition to produce a working concept of “utopia” that could have played a significant role in early Andean mestizo colonial texts. The focus will be on Inca Garcilaso’s Comentarios reales and Guaman Poma’s Nueva corónica y buen gobierno, and in documents around Indigenous messianic movements, such as the Taqui Onkoy; on Spanish and Criollo heretics and saints, like Francisco de La Cruz or Santa Rosa de Lima; and in testimonies of indios ladinos (Christian neophytes) in Cieza de León’s, Crónica del Perú and the Manuscrito de Huarochirí.The consolidation of a Criollo ideology embodied in the ideal feminine city of Lima will be studied in the epic poem Vida de Santa Rosa by Luis Antonio de Oviedo y Herrera, Count of La Granja.
The seminar will also attempt to bridge colonial and twentieth century Andean texts and their utopian traditions. The final part of the semester will be devoted to the study of José María Arguedas’s work and the dynamics of utopia and counter-utopia, ideology and utopia, in contemporary critical discourse, fiction and colonial studies (Flores Galindo, Burga). Special attention will be paid to Argueda’s posthumous novel, El zorro de arriba y el zorro de abajo.

SPN 435  New World Encounters
(Literature, non fiction and journalism in Latin America)

Since colonial times, “encounters” have been the basic ground for the production of a Latin American narrative tradition. This course will study the form, structure and historic contexts of “non-fiction” narratives produced in diverse “contact zones”, from early accounts (relaciones), letters and crónicas of the colonial period to the travel narratives of the 19th century and contemporary non-fiction texts and documentaries. The class will also explore the formation of a journalistic discourse in Latin America, the centrality of the crónica, and study the importance of newspapers and journals in the development of a modern Latin American narrative.


Fall 2011
SPN 435  Topics: Fictions of Communities in the Andes

This course, structured as a seminar, reflects on diverse images of communities and national narratives in modern Peruvian literature (late 19th and 20th century), studied in their Latin American context. The focus will be in short stories, novels, essays and poetry of the indigenismo (a net of discourses about indigenous cultures) and the urban criollo literature. Authors to be studied include José María Arguedas, Alonso Cueto, Clorinda Matto, Julio Ramón Ribeyro, Mario Vargas Llosa, César Vallejo, etc. Classes will be conducted in Spanish.

SPN 395  Introd to Latin American Literature I (colonial period) 


Spring 2011

SPN 652 Matter and Voice in Colonial Textualities

The main objective of this doctoral seminar is to reflect on colonial textuality or the processes in which meaning is produced through texts in specific contexts in early Spanish-America. The seminar, conceived as a workshop on critical reading and textual criticism, will be arranged into 4 sections of about 3 weeks each one: 1) a textual study of an account written by the Spanish priest Miguel Cabello Balboa on the maroon societies of the Equatorial coast Verdadera descripción y relación de la Provincia de las Esmeraldas (c. 1582); 2) problems of speech and voice: the poetics and politics of Indian discourses in colonial epic poetry (discussion of selected cantos from Ercilla, Castellanos and  Oña); 3) a study of a manuscript of an Andean colonial fiesta (Relación de Pausa 1607); and 4) texts and space: accounts on the geography on the Strait of Magellan 1580 to 1621 (Sarmiento de Gamboa, Argensola and Nodal)
Students are required to write three short reports and a final paper, and give an oral presentation on the final project.

Fall 2010

SPN 435 Readings on Civilization and Barbarism

This class will explore “civilization and barbarism” as a long lasting interpretative matrix for Latin America, focusing on essays, novels, short stories and poetry, as well as legal documents, films, urbanism, etc. It will follow a basic historical approach beginning with a reflection on the origins of concept of “civilization,” the colonial debates on the legal status of the Indians and the typology of “barbarians” in the first ethnographic works of Bartolomé de Las Casas and José de Acosta. Eighteenth century racial categorizations, casta paintings, indigenous upheavals, and the emergence of new modern states in the nineteenth century will be also studied through this binary opposition and its critics, as in Sarmiento, Martí, González Prada, etc. The second half of the class will be devoted to twentieth century texts, the avant-gardes and ethnographic writing (novela testimonio). Students will read and discuss the poetry of Palés Matos and narratives by José Luis González, J. M. Arguedas, Mario Vargas Llosa and Gregorio Martínez.

Spring 2010

SPN 652  Colonial Spanish American Literature: moral geographies

This seminar will explore colonial territories and “moral geographies” in chronicles, epic poetry, maps and other forms of colonial textuality related mainly to South America, from the early accounts of the European expansion to local mestizo production in early 1600. Structured as a workshop, the seminar will analyze primary texts in Spanish (and some Portuguese) along with contemporary criticism.
Main authors to be studied include: Columbus, Pero Vaz de Caminha, Vespucci, Francisco de Jerez, Pedro de Cieza de León, Bartolomé de Las Casas, Alonso de Ercilla, Juan de Miramontes, Tito Cusi Yupanqui, Felipe Guaman Poma and Inca Garcilaso.
The seminar will be taught in Spanish, and it is intended only to doctoral students.


HUS 252  Latin America Today

An introduction to Latin American history, geography and culture. All Spanish and Portuguese texts or films in English translation.

Fall 2009/ sept. a dic. 2009

SPN 395  Introd to Latin American Literature I (colonial period) 

Literature and historiography of the Spanish empire and its colonies in the Americas. Beginning with the writings of Columbus and the cartographic imagination, in the first part the students will read texts produced during the conquest and the early evangelization, leading to intense debates on the nature of the Indians and the justice of the European occupation of the New World. In the second part, the focus will be on authors such as the mestizo Inca Garcilaso de la Vega and the Mexican nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Contemporary critical readings will complement class discussion.


SPN 435  Topics: Fictions of Communities in the Andes

See description above.


Spring 2009/ enero a mayo 2009

SPN 510 Hispanic Culture. 20th Century Latin American Novel: History and Fiction

This MA course studies Spanish American narrative fictions and their relation to history and historiography. Focus will be on the diverse traditions of “realism” in twentieth century novels. Students will get familiar with intellectual, artistic and political debates that accompanied the formation of modern Spanish-American societies and cultures. During the semester, it is expected that students will develop and practice analytical tools for
reading literary and cultural artifacts; familiarize with mayor narrative works, artistic movements and literary criticism in Latin America; and learn and discuss Latin American literary history and historiography. Required texts:  Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciones; Juan José Saer, El entenado; Alejo Carpentier, El arpa y la sombra y El reino de este mundo; Mariano Azuela, Los de abajo; Gabriel García Márquez, Cien años de soledad y El otoño del patriarca; Ricardo Güiraldes, Don Segundo Sombra; Roberto González Echevarría, Myth and Archive; Mariano Picón Salas, De la Conquista a la Independencia. 

SPN 396 Introduction to Spanish American Literature II

This survey course studies Spanish American “literature” from the late eighteenth century to mid twentieth century. Students will read essays, narratives (short-stories and novels) and poetry produced in the vast territories and diverse cultures comprehended between Mexico, Spanish speaking Caribbean and South America. The course will explore the relation between historical movements and literary production, the formation of modern national discourses, local traditions and cosmopolitanism. Students will get familiar with the intellectual debates and language that accompanied the formation of a "Latin American" literature.

Fall 2008/ sept. a dic. 2008

SPN 671  José María Arguedas and the Narratives of Indigenismo

This seminar will study the work of 20th century Peruvian anthropologist, novelist, poet and translator José María Arguedas. The class will begin discussing 19th century writers such as Manuel González Prada, Clorinda Matto de Turner and Ricardo Palma, and the traditions involved in the formation of new discourses on the Indians. The work of Arguedas, which has been a mayor source for Latin American critical theory, will be carefully read as a narrative space for the constitution of an Andean subject, and as a key intervention into cultural and political debates around colonialism, indigenismo, mestizaje, acculturation, orality, etc. Students will also read and discuss texts by José Carlos Mariátegui, Luis E. Valcárcel, Sebastián Salazar Bondy, Alberto Escobar, Ángel Rama, Alberto Flores Galindo, Antonio Cornejo Polar, William Rowe, etc.,


SPN 395  Introd to Latin American Literature I (colonial period) 

Literature and historiography of the Spanish empire and its colonies in the Americas. Beginning with the writings of Columbus and the cartographic imagination, in the first part the students will read texts produced during the conquest and the early evangelization, leading to intense debates on the nature of the Indians and the justice of the European occupation of the New World. In the second part, the focus will be on narrations of the formation of the new criollo culture of the vice-regal city. Emphasis will be on authors such as the mestizo Inca Garcilaso de la Vega and the Mexican nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Contemporary critical readings will complement class discussion.

Spring 08 / enero a mayo 08

SPN 312 Introduction to Literary Studies (TuTh 1250-210)

20th century short stories, novels, poetry and essays from Latin America and Spain read in conjuction to some critical theory and literary analysis.  

SPN 652 Colonial Spanish American Literature (Th 330-630)

This graduate seminar studies the formation of a colonial discourse on the Incas, and the particularities of textual production and circulation in the Andes in the 16th century. Main reading list: Xerez, Cieza, Sarmiento de Gamboa, Cabello de Balboa, Tito Cusi Yupanqui, Jesuita Anónimo, Acosta, Inca Garcilaso, Huaman Poma, etc. 

Fall 07 / sept. a dic. 07

SPN 395  Introd to Latin American Literature I (colonial period)
SPN 435  Topic: Fictions of Communities in the Andes

*Note:
300-400: undergraduate courses (cursos del pregrado)
500-599: M.A. courses (cursos de la maestría)
600-699: Ph.D. courses (cursos del doctorado)

For older courses, go to CV

Prof. Paul Firbas
Dept of Hispanic Languages and Literatures
Stony Brook University
Melville Library N3017
Stony Brook, NY 11794-3371
USA

Campus phone: (631) 632-6138
Fax: 631-632-9724
paul.firbas@stonybrook.edu

Prof. Firbas's Home page