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Language Text and Identity in the Hispanic World

Module Code: HP103
Module Name: Language, Text and Identity in the Hispanic World
Module Coordinator: Raquel Navas
Module Credits: 30

Module convenor: Raquel Navas
Module tutors: Raquel Navas, Dr Olga Castro, Dr Elizabeth Chant, Professor Fabienne Viala

Module Description

How has the Spanish language travelled around the world and what happens when it coexists with other languages? How do writers exploit language to explore identity, and what happens when they work between two (or more!) languages? What skills do we need as readers to interpret the nuances of texts that travel between languages?
This module will equip you with an understanding of the cultural and sociolinguistic diversity of the Hispanic world, and a strong grounding in the literary and cultural analysis of texts that address this diversity.

- The module has four sections

I. Spanish in the world: In this part of the course, we will explore the different varieties of Spanish spoken around the world, along with some of the principal languages that share its territory. The course intends to give theoretical foundations of sociolinguistics, always focusing on Spanish speaking groups and the study of language and society. General topics include linguistic identity, language contact, language attitudes, policy and planning, linguistic landscapes, and social factors in Spanish language acquisition.

II. African textual identities across cultural borders: gender, race and sexuality. In this part of the course we will explore the specificities of contemporary literature in Equatorial Guinea, with a focus on texts in Spanish that negotiate gender, racial and sexual identities in translation. We will read the work of Trifonia Melibea Obono, the first ever Equatoguinean woman writer to enter the English-language book market with the publication in 2018 of La Bastarda (translated by Lawrence Schimel).

III. Malinche: Language and Identity in the colonial Americas. In this section, we will focus on the historical figure of "La Malinche", also called Marina and Malintzin, who played a key role in the conquest of Mexico, facilitating translation into several indigenous languages to Hernán Cortés. We will analyse the ambivalence of Malinche in Mexican identity building and politics, and compare different narratives of Malinche, including her rehabilitating in Latin American scholarship by indigenous, feminist and gender studies.

IV. Gender and Domesticity Across Borders: In this section we will consider representations of domestic work in the Americas, focusing particularly on issues of gender, class and indigeneity. Texts we will study include Alfonso Cuarón’s 2018 film Roma, which follows a Mixtec maid living and working in a wealthy yet troubled Mexico City household, and short stories from itinerant U.S. author Lucia Berlin’s collection A Manual for Cleaning Women (2015). In these works we will examine how the quotidian is narrated and explored, as well as how domestic labour is understood and (under)valued.


The course is taught through a weekly combination of lecture and seminar. You will prepare for each seminar with guided research, reflection and close reading of a set text or extract. Each session combines tutor-led lecture with student-led analysis and discussion. Our focus is always on understanding the linguistic and literary structures and nuances that support advanced reading and interpretative competence in Spanish.

Read our students' posts about this module:

"Next, we moved on to what I would honestly describe as my favourite part of my studies this year: the usage of Spanish in our linguistic environment. Through the usage of a Twitter feed we were all encouraged to keep our eyes peeled for examples of Spanish in our environment. I thoroughly enjoyed this section of the module as it was interactive and provided a far deeper depth of understanding with regards to the languages of the Hispanic World and all that they entail."

"Overall, I am unable to put into words how much enjoyment I have derived from HP103; my outlook has been broadened, narrow precepts challenged and, moreover, every lecture and seminar has reaffirmed why I chose my course – it is engaging, interactive, captivating and enthralling."

Imogen, Hispanic Studies: so much more than rellena los huecos.Link opens in a new window


Assessment is designed to develop your advanced writing and analytical skills in English. Over the course of the year, you will prepare 2 independent pieces of work. You will have individual feedback meetings with your tutors to discuss each piece of work, and you will then revise them for submission as an assessed portfolio at the end of the year.

Formative assessment:

2 x 1500-word commentaries/essays in English to be submitted during the year that will be revised and submitted in summative portfolio.

Summative assessment:

2 x 2000-2500-word commentaries/essays in English (revised from formative work).

Ms Raquel Navas


2022-2023 Terms 1 & 2
Lecture: Wednesday 9-10. Room S0.19
Seminars: Either Wednesdays 10-11 (Room FAB 1.10) or Wednesdays 12-1 (Room FAB 3.32).