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Icons and Representations of the Hispanic World

Module Code: HP104
Module Name: Icons and Representations of the Hispanic World
Module Convenor: Dr Tom Whittaker

Lecture and seminars will be face to face.

Module Credits: 30

Module Convenor: Dr Tom Whittaker
Module Tutors:
Mr. Erik Urbieta, Dr Verónica Diaz Cerda, Dr Tom Whittaker, Dr Jorge Sarasola

Module Description (2023-24)

!Bienvenidas y Bienvenidos! Have you ever wondered where the most famous icons and familiar stereotypes of Spain and Latin America come from? How have they circulated and been understood at different times and in different places? And how have Spaniards and Latin Americans represented themselves to travellers, tourists, artists, and even invaders?

The module will introduce you to a wide range of written and visual representations of the Hispanic world, and some of its most influential and iconic cultural figures. In so doing, we’ll investigate where familiar stereotypes of Spain and Latin America come from. This year's selection includes:

Autumn Term

Section 1: (Week 1-4) Colombian Cinema, Erik Urbieta

This section examines several issues in contemporary Colombian society through the films of Víctor Gaviria. Some of the issues, concepts and ideas that will be discussed in class include the representation of urban and rural spaces, marginality, the representation of violence, and cinematic realism. A close reading of the films will allow us to reflect, among others, on the following questions: what is it that Gaviria makes room for in his films, which others leave out? What are the possibilities and issues derived from Gaviria’s unique approach to filmmaking?

Primary texts: Rodrigo D. No futuro (Víctor Gaviria, 1990) and La vendedora de rosas (Víctor Gaviria, 1997)

Section 2. (Week 5-9): Gabriela Mistral: Activist Beyond Borders, Verónica Diaz Cerda

The second section of this module explores the figure and human rights activism of Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957), the only Latin American woman (and the first Latin American author) to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Through her essays, letters and poems, we will analyse the context in which she lived and the way in which she opened a space for children, women and marginalised people in Latin America. Through closely analysing her texts, we will reflect on the current significance of the social and political issues raised by Mistral more than a century ago.

Primary texts: Agosín, Marjorie. Gabriela Mistral: The audacious traveller. Athens: Ohio University Press. 2003

Gabriela Mistral. Selected Prose and Prose-Poems, edited by Stephen Tapscott. Austin: University of Texas, 2022.

Week 10. Essay Writing Skills and Tips.

Spring Term

Section 3. (Weeks 1-4) The image of the Gypsy in Twentieth-Century Spain, Tom Whittaker

This section explores the significant, yet often contradictory role, that Gypsies have played in twentieth-century Spanish culture and nation building. Despite living in Spain for over four centuries, the Spanish Romany are still socially marginalised and have long been regarded as an exoticised ‘Other’. Yet Gypsies have been an instrument in Spanish nation formation – and, through their long-standing association with Andalusia, have often come to stand for Spanishness, both inside and outside of Spain. We will explore the complex ways in which Spanish Gypsies have been imagined and contested in Spanish culture from the Franco period (1939-1975) to the present day, with a particular emphasis on their representation within Spanish film, photography, and flamenco.

Primary texts:

  • Carmen (Carlos Saura, 1984)
  • Carmen y Lola (Arantxa Echevarría, 2018)
  • A selection of photographs by Carlos Pérez Siquier and other photographers

Section 4. (Weeks 5-9) Representing Race: Iconic Black Soldiers in Nineteenth-Century Uruguay and Argentina, Dr Jorge Sarasola

This section will focus on Uruguay and Argentina’s most celebrated nineteenth-century black soldiers – Ansina in Uruguay; Falucho and María Remedios in Argentina – who took part in the fight for independence from Spain. We will study historical texts, images, monuments, black activism, and literary texts about these heroic figures as a means of widening our understanding of ethnicity, history, and national identity in the region.

Primary texts:

  • Images of Ansina, Falucho, and María Remedios to be distributed in class.
  • Jorge Chagas, La sombra: la novela de Ansina (2013)
  • Ana Gloria Moya, Cielo de tambores (2002)

Week 10. Essay Writing Skills and Tips.

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. Your work in this course will help you to extend the linguistic ability you will acquire in language modules, to develop your critical reading skills, and to manage and understand a wide range of primary and secondary source materials.


Assessment Method:

Assessment is designed to develop your advanced writing and analytical skills in English. Over the course of the year, you will prepare three independent pieces of work. You will have individual feedback meetings with your tutors to discuss each piece of work, and you will choose your best two pieces to revise 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 at the end of Term 1 and Term 2. These will be revised and submitted in summative portfolio.

Summative assessment:

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

2023-2024: Terms 1 & 2
Lecture: Mondays 12-1pm in R1.15
Seminar group A: Mondays 1pm-2pm in FAB3.32
Seminar group B: Mondays 5pm-6pm in FAB1.11

Moodle HP104 page (for seminar work and supporting materials)

Reading list via the LibraryLink opens in a new window