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Withdrawn Module: Comparative Literature of the Americas (AM404)

Please note that this module was available
until 2010, but has since been
withdrawn and is no longer available.

Tutor: Professor John King

Does the Americas have a common literature? This undergraduate final-year Advanced Option module seeks to explore the similarities and differences in literary development in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean through a comparative analysis of selected texts. Areas covered include: 'the first encounter' in the Americas; civilisation and barbarism; slavery; the novel of childhood; indigenous literature; Faulkner and Latin America; the 'American poet'; gender and ethnicity.


Term 1, Week 1 (Introduction): What is Comparative Literature?

  • S. Bassnett, An Introduction to Comparative Literature
  • Siegbert Prawer, Comparative Literary Studies: An Introduction
  • Claudio Guillen, Literature as System
  • R. Stallkecht and H. Frenc, Comparative Literature
  • Terence Hawkes, Structuralism and Semiotics
  • Belle Gale Chevigny & Gari Laguardia, Reinventing the Americas
  • G. Perez Firmat, ed., Do the Americas have a Common Literature?

Term 1, Weeks 2, 3 & 4 (Unit 1): European Images of the Americas

Primary Sources

  • M. de Montaigne, 'On Cannibals'
  • W. Shakespeare, The Tempest
  • Please refer to your first year text, Bernal Diaz, The Conquest of New Spain
  • Juan José Saer, The Witness

Secondary Sources

  • A. Pagden, The Fall of Natural Man (especially first 2 Chaps.)
  • E. Said, Orientalism. read at least the introduction
  • E. Said (ed.) Literature and Society. Read the essay by Steven Greenblatt on language and power.
  • Leo Marx, The Machine in the Garden. Chapers on the pastoral and on The Tempest
  • T. Todorov, La conquête de l'Amerique, English translation also available in library.
  • Lee Huddleston, Origins of the American Indians. Europeans Concepts 1942-1729
  • Irving Leonard, Books of the Brave
  • Hugh Honour, Consult his catalogue on images in the library.
  • George Lamming, The Pleasures of Exile
  • Leslie A. Fiedler, The Stranger in Shakespeare
  • Paul Brown, "This Thing of Darkness I acknowledge Mine" in Political Shakespeare, ed J. Dollimore, A.Sinefield
  • Eldred Jones, Othello's Countrymen
  • P. Brockbank, "The Tempest: Conventions of Art and Empire" in Stratford-upon-Avon Studies Vol. 8
  • Steven Greenblatt, Marvellous Possessions
  • Peter Hulme, Colonial Encounters


  • You will be expected to see the video of Nelson Pereira dos Santos, How Tasty was My Little Frenchman

Term 1, Weeks 5 & 6 (Unit 2): Civilisation and Barbarism

North America - Texts

  • J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur's initial Letters to an American Farmer
  • J. Fenimore Cooper, The Pioneers

North America - Criticism

  • R. Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence
  • G. Lukacs, The Historical Novel (On Walter Scott)
  • L. Fiedler, Love and Death in the American Novel
  • Leo Marx, The Machine in the Garden
  • R.W.B. Lewis, The American Adam
  • J.M. Porte, The Romance in America
  • D.H. Lawrence, Studies in Classic American Literature
  • M. Bradbury & H. Temperley (ed.) Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth
  • R. Pearce, The Savages of America

Spanish America - Texts

  • Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, Facundo: Civilisation and Barbarism (Penguin)

Spanish America - Criticism

  • C. Jones, D.F. Sarmiento, Facundo
  • G. Martin, Journeys Through the Labyrinth
  • W. Rowe & V. Schelling, Memory and Modernity: Popular Culture in Latin America
  • E. Fishburn, The Portrait of the Immigrant in Argentine Fiction
  • T. Halperin Donghi etc. Sarmiento: Author of A Nation
  • G. Kirkpatrick et al, Sarmiento: Architect of a Nation
  • You will also be expected to see the video by María Luisa Bemberg Camila

Term 1, Weeks 7 & 8 (Unit 3): The Search for an American Epic


  • W. Whitman, Leaves of Grass
  • P. Neruda, The Heights of Macchu Picchu


  • Gordon Brotherston, Latin American Poetry
  • Mike Gonzalez, D. Treece, The Gathering of Voices
  • David Gallagher, Modern Latin American Literature
  • C. Perriam, The Late Poetry of Pablo Neruda
  • E. Rodriguez Monegal, Pablo Neruda
  • Doris Sommer, 'Supplying demand: Walt Whitman' in Chevigny, Laguardia, Reinventing
  • Mark Van Doren, 'Introduction to The Portable Walt Whitman
  • John C. Broderick ed., Whitman, the Poet
  • Pelman, Folson, Campion eds., Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song
  • C. Bush, The Dream of Reason

Term 1, Weeks 9 & 10 (Unit 4): Novels of Childhood as a Metaphor for the Development of a Nation

North America - Texts

  • M. Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • Secondary reading by Twain, Tom Sawyer
  • ' The United States of Lyncherdom'

Spanish America - Texts

  • 'Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences' in, Bernardo de Voto (ed.) The Portable Mark Twain

Additional Bibliography

It is essential to read the chapters in Marx, Nash Smith, and Fiedler, in the texts listed above, plus:

  • Philip Foner, Mark Twain: social critic
  • W. Gibson, Mark Twain
  • Henry Nash Smith, Mark Twain
  • R Guiraldes, Don Segundo Sombra
  • Introduction to P. Beardsall's critical edition of D.S.S.
  • Article by Beardsall in Forum for Modern Language Studies Spring 1981
  • Jean Franco, The Modern Culture of Latin America
  • Jorge Luis Borges, 'The Argentine Writer and tradition' in Labyrinths
  • Christopher Leland, The Last Happy Men
  • Carlos Alonso, The Spanish American Regional Novel
  • Edition of DSS by Gwen Kirkpatrick (University of Pittsburg Press, 1995)

Comparative Literature

Do The Americas

The Pleasures of Exile

The Pioneers

Love and Death

Heights of Macchu Picchu

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Modern Culture of Latin America