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

Fall 2007

SPN 378H • New World Orientalism(s)

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
49430 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
BEN 1.104

Course Description

This course will survey works mostly in the Latin American and Peninsular literary tradition in which images or themes related to the East (Asia, Eastern Africa, the Middle East) are developed. Latin American culture many often be thought as an extension or continuation of Western traditions, but the association between the New World and the East has strong historical roots dating back to Columbus' "Discovery" of the "Indies." Even though the geographical confusion of the New World with the Orient ended after Columbus's death, linkages between the New World and the Orient occur frequently in Spanish Latin American literature. Many Latin American writers have demonstrated a great fascination with "oriental" themes and narratives in their works, often searching in Eastern mythology, history, and culture non-European paradigms more compatible with those native, pre-Columbian traditions underrecognized by the Western mindset.

Guided by Edward Said's influential work on the topic of "Orientalism," this course will attempt to survey works in the Latin American canon in which representations of the "East" or an "Oriental" figure prominently. We will discuss how and why these representations are used, and what are their political, cognitive, social, geocultural, and aesthetic meanings and implications in terms of Latin America's own ambivalent relation to the history of Western expansionism. We will study works of the Spanish American colonial period--works that document how "Western" mores and institutions established themselves on a proto-"Oriental" territory. We will also study19th century works heavily influenced by Europe's Romantic exotization of the Orient during the period of imperialist expansion, and 20th century "postcolonial" narratives and essays that rediscover the East as a "sibling" or "twin" culture to the "otherness" in Latin American "civilization." We will also discuss these texts as works belonging to a Latin American literary tradition that is a Western construct.

Grading Policy

One take home midterm: 25% Final term paper: 40 % Class participation: 10% Short writing assignments: 15%


Edward Said, Orientalism Christopher Columbus, Diario de Navegación Hernán Cortés, Segunda carta de relación Bernal Díaz del Castillo, Historia verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva España Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora, Los infortunios de Alonso Ramírez Domingo F. Sarmiento, Facundo o Civilización y barbarie Rubén Darío, selection of chronicles and poems Salvador Elizondo, Farabeuf Selection of "modernista" chronicles and poems Jorge Luis Borges, selection of stories and essays Octavio Paz, selection of poems and essay, Mono gramático Julio Cortázar, Rayuela Severo Sarduy, Maytreya


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