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Jill Robbins, Chair 150 W 21st Street, Stop B3700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4936

Spring 2007

SPN 380K • Barroco Americano y Neobarroco Caribeno. New World Baroque and Caribbean Neobaroque

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
47960 W
1:30 PM-4:30 PM
BEN 1.118

Course Description

One of the most important trends in Caribbean and Latin American writing following the "boom" of magical realism was the revival of Baroque aesthetics. "Lo barroco" resurfaced both as a period concept analyzing the "foundations" of Latin American expression in the colonial period and as the poetics of a "neobarroco" avant-garde literary movement. Ever since the term was put back into circulation, the range of its meanings and applications in Latin American fiction and criticism has expanded vertiginously. In this course we will read some of the colonial and contemporary works of literature studied under this term, and the theoretical essays that study and/or promote its revival. We will be concerned with tracing a "genealogy" of the concept, studying how the idea of the Baroque came to be associated with aspects of past and present day Caribbean and Latin American culture and literature. Issues of hybridity, ethnicity, aesthetics, colonialism, orthodoxy/heterodoxy, sexuality, and power will be considered in this geneological approach. Rather than one particular style or school, we will study the Baroque revival as a complex convergence of concepts, an amalgamation of many distinct cultural theories. In these works we will not seek to identify one static set of literary or aesthetic principles, but several ideas of the baroque: lo barroco, el barroco de Indias, el barroco europeo, el barroco "americano", el neo-barroco, el neobarroco caribeïo. We will consider how the neo-Baroque movement springs out of a debate regarding the problematic cultural and political legacy of the colonial period in Latin America's literary modernity, and why the concept--normally thought as a 17th century European artistic period succeeding the Renaissance--came to describe the post-modern culture of a non-European region in the 20th century.

To achieve these goals, the reading of the course is divided into three sets. The first consists mostly of essays and critical articles that debate the definition and the appearance of the "Baroque" during both the 17th century and the modern and postmodern period. Writings by Wellek, Wolfllin, Weisbach, d'Ors, Maravall, Hauser, Busi-Gluckman, Genette, Sarduy, Calabrese, Garcëa Canclini, Pratt, González-Echevarrëa, Rama, Bhabha, and Ortega will be discussed either as required reading or in special presentations. To understand the arguments regarding the "dynamic continuity" or the ruptures and differences between the baroque art of the past and the "neo-baroque" literature of the present, we will consult a selection of Peninsular and Latin American writings of the Golden Age. Writings by Luis de Gñngora, Francisco de Quevedo, Bernardo de Balbuena, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Hernando Domënguez Camargo, and Carlos de Sigüenza y Gñngora will be read in the context of what contemporary "neo-Baroque" Latin American authors and critics say about them. The third set of readings consists of contemporary "neo-Baroque" fictions and films to be discussed in the light of the theories presented in the essays of the first set. The neobaroque aesthetic is usually associated with the work of Cuban writers (José Lezama Lima, Alejo Carpentier, Severo Sarduy, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Reinaldo Arenas, Antonio Benëtez Rojo, Senel Paz). Both in their fiction and their critical essays, these writers have revived (and revised) the European notion of the Baroque as a tool to analyze Cuban and Caribbean cultural history. The "neobaroque," however, is far from being a Cuban monopoly. An analogous revival of the concept can be seen in the literary and critical works of Mexican writers Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Fernando del Paso, Salvador Elizondo. and Daniel Sada. Monteforte Toledo has argued about a regional Guatemala "neobaroque" esthetic in relation to the work of Miguel Angel Asturias and his successors. A neobaroque "performative" virtuosity is one of the most distinct characteristics of the last wave of Puerto Rican fiction initiated by Luis Rafael Sánchez' and continued in the works of Edgardo Rodrëguez Juliá. Ana Lydia Vega, and Mayra Santos. The Argentine Abel Posse writes in the spirit of Carpentier and Sarduy and a neobarroso poetic movement has emerged in Argentina inspired by/reacting against the neobarroco esthetic. This course will consider the neobaroque as a pan-American phenomenon, even though its main focus with be on its Caribbean manifestations. In this process, I hope to explore why an esthetic first associated with the great viceregal continental centers of the colonial period (the barroco americano of Mexico City, Lima, Santa Fe de Bogotá) comes to be identified with the culture of the Caribbean archipelago (neobarroco caribeïo).

Grading Policy

One 15-20 page final term paper (50%). Class participation, oral presentation and short written commentaries (25%). Midterm Take-Home (25%).


Luis de Gïngoras, Soledades Francisco de Quevedo, selecciïn de poesða y prosa Bernardo de Balbuena, La grandeza mexicana Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, selecciïn de poesða, Primero sue ìo, Neptuno alegïrico Carlos de Sigüenza y Gïngora, Teatro de virtudes polðticas José Lemaza Lima, La expresiïn americana , Paradiso and Oppiano Licario (selections) Alejo Carpentier, El acoso, Concierto barroco, essays (selection) Reinado Arenas, El mundo alucinante Severo Sarduy, De donde son los cantantes, essays (selection) Guillermo Cabrera Infantes, Tres tristes tigres Abel Posse, Los perros del paraðso Stories by Gabriel Garcða Márquez, Senel Paz, Luis Rafael Sánchez, Edgardo Rodrðguez Juliá, and Mayra Santos Packet with critical and theoretical readings by Wellek, Wolfllin, Weisbach, d'Ors, Maravall, Sarduy, Calabrese, Garcða Canclini, Picïn-Salas, Leonard, Paz, González-Echevarrða, Rama, Bhabha, Ortega, and others Films: Selection from the film series Amores difðciles, Gabriel Garcða Márquez (scriptwriter) Paul Leduc, Barroco (inspired by A. Carpentiers Concierto barroco) Senel Paz (scriptwriter), Tomás Gutiérrez Alea (director), Fresa y chocolate


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