20C Latin American Revolutions

20th Century Latin America Revolutions: Literature and the Arts (Mexican Muralism, Cuban Film and Nicaraguan Poetry)

Since the early part of the nineteenth-century and marked by the Wars of Independence, Latin America has experienced a great deal of political turmoil. It is generally accepted that independence from Spain did not represent for the new nations a radical change in social and political institutions. Therefore, it was not until the twentieth century, and in some cases influenced by crucial events in the political sphere such as the advance of socialist and communist ideologies, that many Latin American countries looked inward and attempted to make radical changes in their colonial and neocolonial institutions. This is the case of the 1910 Mexican Revolution against the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz and his plan of modernization that mostly benefited the wealthy and continued to suppress the mestizo and indigenous population. Almost fifty years later, and in a Caribbean island, another extremely important and radical political event took place: the Cuban Revolution of 1959. The outcry against governmental corruption, social injustice and racism, foreign political and economic intervention in the daily affairs of Cuba, among others reasons, led to the formation of a guerrilla movement which eventually reached power and later established a communist government which has lasted until the present. The still current tensions between Cuba and the United States and the challenges to resolve them, attest to the complexity and repercussions of this revolution that began 56 years ago. [NOTE: On July 20, 2015, the US reopened its Embassy in Cuba after its closure in 1961.] During the 1970s and 1980s, and in an economically marginalized region, Central America, other revolutionary movements emerged. But it was the 1979 Nicaraguan Revolution with its socialist agenda that received international attention.

Beyond the possible successes and failures that these three crucial events had in the history of both their respective countries and of Latin America, this course will explore the extremely productive artistic environment that emerged as a direct and indirect consequence of these political uprisings. The new political language created by the radical changes, the innovative interpretation of reality, and the repositioning and prevalence of social and socialist discourses, transformed the language of art and allowed new voices –in some cases marginal ones— to engage in a dynamic process of artistic representation. In the case of the Mexico and before moving into the second and third decades of the 20th century we will discuss the short novel Los de abajo (1915) as a means to introduce us to the revolutionary world. We will then examine the relationship between revolution and the visual arts, concentrating primarily on the famous Muralist movement (Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco). In the second case, and among the extraordinary artistic production that came out of postrevolutionary Cuba, this course will emphasize film: Lucía (1968) by Humberto Solás, Memories of Underdevelopment (1968), and Strawberry and Chocolate (1993) by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío. We will end this segment with the discussion of the short novel Máscaras (1997) by Leonardo Padura Fuentes. Finally, we will engage in the study of revolutionary poetry as it emerges particularly in Nicaragua, by poets such as Ernesto Cardenal and Gioconda Belli.

The coordinated study of cultural, artistic and political aspects in Latin America should offer the student a strong notion of the interdependence and fruitful interaction among various forms of discourse, and how radical political changes interact with the exploration of more subjective languages and artistic interpretations of reality.
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SPAN 3440

All Sections in Summer 2016 Language Schools, LS 7 Week Session

Summer 2016 Language Schools, LS 7 Week Session

SPAN3440A-L16 Lecture (Melendez)