HUMS 651
Tales of Resistance: Modernity and the Latin American Short Story

Robert Conn

Course Description

Latin American writers from the early twentieth century forward have regarded the short story as a vehicle through which to make their mark and engage the great cultural issues of the day.  Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortazar, two of Latin America's most well-known literary figures, dedicated their careers almost exclusively to the genre.  In this course, as we consider the privileged status of the short story in Latin American letters, we will examine the ways in which writers have used the genre to comment on important aspects of modernization both within and outside their respective countries.  Some of those aspects will concern the Mexican Revolution, bourgeois and mass culture, nationalism, globalization, as well as immigration to Europe and the United States.


6 two-three-page papers in addition to one final paper of 10-15 pages.  All assignments will involve close reading of texts and contextualization. 

Supplementary Readings

These will include writings of critics in the field of Latin American literary and cultural studies such as Beatriz Sarlo, Carlos Alonso, and William Rowe as well writings of theoreticians and thinkers like Thorstein Veblen, Matei Calinescu, Julien Benda, and Ortega y Gasset.


Horacio Quiroga (Uruguayan writer, 1878-1937), Cuentos de amor, de locura y de muerte (1917)

                        Labor and its “Rewards”: Between Poe and Maupassant

June 24           “The Premature Burial” (1844)                 

                        "The Purloined Letter" (1844)

                        "In the Country and "His Son" from The House of                                                         Madame Tellier (1882)

                        The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories      

                         ***Submit first paper by Thursday at noon.

June 26           The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories      

Juan Rulfo  (Mexican writer, 1918-1986), El llano en llamas (1953)

                        Mexican “Campesinos” Adrift: Reflections on the
                        Countryside in the Wake of the Revolution

                        ***Submit second paper by Monday at 6. P.M.

July 1              The Burning Plain and Other Stories

Jorge Luis Borges (Argentine writer, 1899-1986), El jardin de senderos que se bifurcan (1941), Artificios (1944)

                        Toward a New Cosmopolitanism: Thinking Linearity and                         Identity in the Age of Nationalism

July 3              Labyrinths

                        ***Submit third paper by Monday at 6. P.M.

July 8              Labyrinths

Julio Cortázar (Argentine writer, 1914-1984), Historias de cronopios y de famas (1962); Final del juego (1956)

                        The Middle Class in Argentina: The Question of Culture

July 10                        Cronopios and Famas

                        ***Submit fourth paper by Monday at 6 P.M.

July 15                        Blow-Up and Other Stories

July 17                        Blow-Up and Other Stories

Rosario Ferré (Puerto Rican writer, 1942- ), Papeles de Pandora (1976)             

                        Puerto Rican Independence: New Genealogies of the Nation

                        ***Submit 5th paper by Monday at 6 P.M.

July 22                        The Youngest Doll

July 24                        The Youngest Doll

Gabriel García Márquez, Colombian writer, 1928- ), Doce cuentos peregrinos (1992)

                        Latin Americans in Europe

                        ***Submit 6th paper by Monday at 6 P.M.

July 29                        Strange Pilgrims

July 31                        Strange Pilgrims

                        ***Submit final paper