RLSP 405
Alternative American Literatures: From the Indigenous Chronicle to the Latin American & Chic. Novel Spring 2025
Division I Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity

Class Details

Do the Americas have a common literature? If so, is it possible to trace their roots and continuity from the colonial era to the present? Literary critic Matin Lienhard suggests that it is indeed possible to trace the origin of a literature common to Latin America from the colonial era and into present by focusing on what he calls “alternative literatures”–literatures that relativize the importance of Europeanized and Creole literatures and valorize the richness of oral traditions in the Americas. Such literatures, he asserts, are closely tied to marginalized sectors of society. In this course, we will take Lienhard’s concept of “alternative literatures” as a point of departure to pursue our own examinations of how these “alternative literatures” are constituted. While the primary aim of this course is to focus on the writings of Latin American authors, we will end by exploring the relationship between “alternative” Latin American literatures and Chicana/o/x literatures. Readings will include narrative texts such as Cartas de relación, chronicles of conquest, religious texts, indigenous annals, poetry, and drama, as well as contemporary Latin American and Chicana/o/x novels.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 3768
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Four essays, class presentations, active participation, and regular attendance required
Prerequisites: any 300-level RLSP course or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: Senior Spanish Majors.
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
WS Notes: Each student will write four 4-6 page papers on which I will provide written feedback regarding grammar, style, and argument. Each student will also provide three 2-page critiques of their partner's papers as a form of feedback. After receiving my feedback and the feedback of their peers, each student will revise each of the papers and submit a final version.
DPE Notes: This course will highlight intellectual production of indigenous peoples of the Americas under Spanish colonial rule as well as the writings of more contemporary minority authors of Latin America. It will explore the new identities and textualities that emerge as a result of the encounter and subsequent conquest of the Americas. As such, students will gain critical skills to analyze a diversity of Spanish-American colonial texts from the 16th century as well as more contemporary narrative texts.

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