Masters of Contemporary Latin American Short Stories
Rei Berroa
Office: 215 E Thompson   Tel (703) 993-1241
Summer 2000 Tuesday/Thursday  19:00-22:30 L. Borges


A few years ago, we invited 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature Toni Morrison to come to George Mason University to talk to our students about her craft as a writer.  After her presentation, one student asked her if she had any recommendation on what to read.  Morrison did not wait much to answer: "read anything from Latin American  writers that reaches our bookstores.  It's all good."  Besides dictatorships, and oil, and bananas, among many other things, Latin America has produced the world's most formidable column of writers in the last 40 years.

With Brazil and Haiti (which speak Portuguese and French, respectively), there are 19 Spanish speaking countries in this hemisphere.  Most of them gained their independence from Spain and declared themselves republics between 1813 and 1844.  After their independence, they all fell in the hands of despotic governments that suffocated their desire from freedom of speech.  Sometimes allied with these governments, most times against them, writers have attempted to give their people a space to breath and dream.  It is the aim of this course to study the works of these writers as a common cultural heritage through which they poetize, protest, depict reality, or dream magically of a sociopolitical utopia that would transform the world that we see into the world that we want.  In this sense, Latin American writers enjoy a position envied by writers in other places of the world.  The only problem is that their work is not readily available to those who need it most, and so, in most cases, they are admired but not read.

The short stories we will study here will give us a good picture of the human condition in Latin America.  By bringing to our attention the trials and tribulations of these people (their language, culture, religion, politics, etc.), the writer gives us the opportunity to understand more profoundly who we are if we attempt to understand the voices we hear in these stories.

June 1: 
Story, history and discourse:  A background to Latin American fiction

June 6:
Machado de Assis (10),  Darío (20), Lugones (28), Quiroga (38), Gallegos (44)

June 8:
Asturias (52), Icaza (58), Bosch (76), Amado (86), Arlt (92)

June 13:
Borges (102), Carpentier (114), Paz (130), Cortázar (134)

June 15:
Rosa (144), Arreola (152), Roa Bastos (158), Téllez (162), Bioy Casares (168), 
Bombal (182), Rulfo (194)

June 20: 
Fuentes (204), García Márquez (222), Donos (232), Lispector (250), Marqués (268)

June 22:
Onetti (280), Benedetti (290), Cabrera Infante (304), Vargas Llosa (326), Puig (346


Reading of the assigned stories to be discussed in class is essential for class participation plus reading of bibliographical texts distributed in class, requested by professor, or posted on the web.
Your final grade will be distributed as follows:
25%  to class participation and discussion.
25% to a midterm exam
25% to a final exam
25% to a final paper (Due June 22)
More information on all this will be discussed in class.

As part of your class participation and discussion, you have to watch TWO of the following movies (or, after consulting with me, any movie you think will fit our course description) and write a 500-word analysis of each:

Like Water for Chocolate
Azul: Poetry in Nicaragua
Kiss of the Spider Woman
The official Story
The Mission
Miss Mary
Il Postino
The Green Wall
Memories of Underdevelopment
Portrait of Teresa
Nueba Yol