ENGL 311
Trans-American Modernisms: Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Black and Latinx U.S. Spring 2023
Division I Difference, Power, and Equity

Class Details

What would it mean to rethink Modernism through a hemispheric-American lens? This course aims to broaden your perspective of what “Modernism” (as it is known in the Anglophone world) is and/or could be. Our approach assumes that the history of Modernism as a global literary movement made up of divergent though related literatures is yet to be written. It also seeks to resituate our understanding of Latinx literature within the geo-social space of the U.S. South and the Global South, treating “Latinx” as a hemispheric project while facilitating cross-disciplinary conversation between African American Studies, Latin American Studies, and American Studies. We’ll begin by reading contemporary literary theory to introduce a global perspective to the study of modernist movements. Thereafter we’ll turn to study Modernism’s major nineteenth-century precursor poets of the Americas (Whitman, Dickinson, Martí, and Darío) to articulate key questions about modernist innovation and what it means for the poets and artists of the geo-social peripheries to participate in, repudiate, or be excluded from l’esprit nouveau of modernist and avant-garde movements. We will examine what George Yúdice calls the “double bind” situation of the Latin American artist (either be Europe’s double or its Other), as we survey early to mid twentieth-century Latin American and Caribbean responses to European Surrealism. From there we will move to consider the trans-American dialogue between Langston Hughes, Nicolás Guillén, and Federico García Lorca (whose Poeta en Nueva York recounts the poet’s journey from Black Harlem to Cuba). Finally, we will zero in on the early to mid twentieth-century Black and Latinx experiences of modernism/modernity in the U.S. while also attending to where questions of race, class, and gender/sexuality emerge in the canon of Anglo-American Modernism.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 25
Class#: 3818
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Active participation in in-class and online discussion, two close-reading papers (5 pages each), contributions to course blog, and a final 8-10 page research paper.
Prerequisites: A 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam, or permission of the instructor.
Enrollment Preferences: English majors, but non-majors with a strong interest in the subject are welcome.
Distributions: Division I Difference, Power, and Equity
DPE Notes: This course offers students the opportunity to think critically about the experiences of socially marginalized groups throughout U.S. and Latin American history. The course emphasizes the experiences of colonization and U.S. imperialism in Latin America, those of social conflict in border regions throughout the U.S., and African-American experiences of racial injustice.
Attributes: ENGL Literary Histories C
LATS Countries of Origin + Transnationalism Elect

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