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The Disappeared: Literature and Culture from Argentina and Chile

Module Code: HP304
Module Name: The Disappeared: Literature and Culture from Argentina and Chile
Module Coordinator: Professor Alison Ribeiro de Menezes
Term 2
Module Credits: 15

Module Description

Why is memory such an important component of our view of the past today? In what ways is the Hispanic world driving and shaping global cultural memory discourses rather than simply responding to them?

This module examines questions of memory and legacies of the 20th-century military dictatorships in literary and film texts from Argentina and Chile. The module adopts a memory studies focus to examine: (i) major theories of cultural memory, (ii) key memory issues that have arisen in each of the countries studied, (iii) the manner in which these have begun to circulate transnationally thanks to the discourse of human rights. The module aims to give students a solid understanding of key theoretical concepts in the field of cultural memory; extend their understanding of the relationship between history, politics and cultural expression; develop their capacity for close and detailed reading; and expand their understanding of global processes of cultural exchange.

Please note that the primary focus of the module is on sophisticated cultural production and only secondarily on political and historical elements. We will engage in close literary, textual and filmic analyses of a series of set texts from various genres, including prose narrative, theatre, film, and a published confession.

Course Materials

Week 1 From history to cultural memory: the problematics of memory and postmemory

Weeks 2-3 History as allegory: Roberto Bolaño, Nocturno de Chile

Weeks 4-5 The Pinochet case - from human rights and truth and reconciliation to the sublime: Ariel Dorfman, La muerte y la doncella/Death and the Maiden; Patricio Guzmán, Nostalgia de la luz/Nostalgia for the Light

Week 6: Reading Week

Weeks 7-8 Argentina’s dictatorship: Horacio Verbitsky, Confessions of an Argentine Dirty Warrior, and Luis Puenzo, La historia oficial/The Official Story

Weeks 9-10 Political and cultural discourses of the ‘disappeared’ in Argentina: Marcelo Figueras, Kamchatka or Tomás Eloy Martínez, Purgatorio, and Lita Stantic, Un muro de silencio/A Wall of Silence.


1 x 500-word literature review (10%)

1 x 1500-word textual commentary (30%)

1 x 2500-word essay (60%)

Please note that this is an Honours level module.