In her 2007 book, In Catastrophic Times: Resisting the Coming Barbarism, philosopher Isabelle Stengers offers a chilling observation: “we are more badly equipped than ever for putting to work the solutions defined as necessary” to avoid the most devastating effects of global warming–the extinction of 25 to 75% of existing species; an increase in sea levels that will drown island nations and coastal cities; the breakdown of agricultural systems, leading to widespread famine; and the recurrence of powerful hurricanes and other so-called “natural” disasters. All of this, as Stengers and others point out, will create human upheaval, conflict and suffering on an unprecedented scale. This senior seminar examines works of literature, art and film that Latin Americans have produced in response to the catastrophic times in which we live. We will discuss the political, economic, and cultural histories that have led to our present moment, including neoliberalism, dictatorship, and the rise and fall of the leftwing Pink Tide. Through works of new and experimental fiction, poetry, film, performance and visual art, we will consider the lives and work of environmental activists, including Berta Cáceres and others who were murdered because of their outspoken opposition to extractive capitalism, examine the struggle for the decolonization of environmental knowledge, an epistemological battle increasingly waged on behalf of all living things, and experience the politics of mourning for the hundreds of thousands of life-forms disappearing from the planet. Cultural texts to be explored throughout the semester may include: La vorágine (José Eustasio Rivera, Colombia, 1924); Distancia de rescate (Samanta Schweblin, Argentina, 2014); Lo que soño Sebastián (Rodrigo Rey Rosa, Guatemala, 1995); Serras da desordem (Andrea Tonacci, Brazil, 2006); Boi Neón (Gabriel Mascaro, Brazil, 2015); American Fork (George Handley, USA, 2018).
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
rigorous preparation and participation in class discussions, oral presentations and discussion-leading, response papers, one 5- to 7-page paper and one 15- to 20-page paper
one 300-level course in the department, evidence of a successful direct-enroll experience at a local university in Latin America or Spain, or permission of instructor
senior Spanish majors; after that, priority will be given to ENVI majors with a strong command of Spanish
this is the senior seminar required for all Spanish majors
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit: