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Graduate Course Offerings

The following is a representative, rather than exhaustive, list of graduate courses that have been offered by the department.  In the cases of "topics" courses, the titles reflect a gamut of thematic possibilities.

Please note that not all courses provided below are available every semester. For current course availability, please email the Department of Hispanic Languages & Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh, or contact us at 412-624-5225. Additional information is available on our Resources page.

View our Language Courses Waiting List and Special Permission Policy for an overview of the waitlist process.

Span 2224: Special Topics in Cultural Analysis: Sexuality in Contemporary Mexico

From a queer theoretical perspective, incorporating feminist research methodologies, this graduate course offers a panoramic view of queer cultural production in Mexico from 1901 to the present. As a point of departure, several milestones are presented in the sociocultural constructions of masculinity, femininity, and sexuality and their respective transformations throughout the 20th- and 21st-century. Through an interdisciplinary approach, this course examines the themes, dynamics, trends, and common sites of sexual diversity in contemporary Mexico. Incorporating a diversity of cultural texts and theoretical approaches, this course centers thematically on the gender models that circulated before, during, and after the 1910 Revolution, the debates about homosexuality during the decade of the 40s, 50s, and 60s, the emergence of an activist movement in favor of sexual diversity in the 70s, the cultural production centered on sexual dissidence, nightlife culture, sexual manifestations in the borderlands, as well as in lesbianism, travestismo, paying particular attention to the epistemological debates on queerness, and on the cultural symbols and practices of the LGBT community in Mexico. This course aims to develop research skills through the rigorous examination of various cultural texts and theoretical works, as well as to problematize practices of knowledge production within the area of sexualities studies from/in Mexico.

Span 2226: Readings in Critical Theory: Latin American Cultural Failures

"The failure of Latin America" is the title John Beverley gave to his last public intervention at the University of Pittsburgh (2018). With the advent of cultural globalization and Latin America losing momentum by entering the end of an era of groundbreaking achievements, Beverley's provoking title has proved to be quite prophetic. This seminar invites students to interrogate Latin America's "literary failures" to fulfill both the promises of cultural modernity and the promises of revolutionary insurgencies. By discussing some of the most significant literary projects along these lines, we'll see to what extent global cultural reconfigurations have historically pushed Latin America and Latin Americanism into global designs whose ultimate product is the globalized culture in which we now live. Crucial to the understanding of this operation will be: 1) to address the strategies, uncertainties, self-criticism, and historical burden that led cultural Latin Americanism toward this global-future of the world, and 2) to debate pressing issues of Latin American critical thinking about the viability or non-viability of the literary utopias and cultural sovereignties still disputed in the region. Sources include canonical works by José María Arguedas, Andrés Bello, José Carlos Mariátegui, José Martí, Alfonso Reyes, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, and César Vallejo, but also non-canonical and/or contemporary authors such as Daniel Alarcón, César Calvo, Gamaliel Churata, Jaime Saenz, Jorge Luis Volpi and Blanca Wiethüchter. John Beverley will join the seminar by offering a series of lectures.

Span 2300: Professional Writing: Prospectus, Papers, Grants

This seminar focuses on formulating individual research problems in preparation for thesis research. Course requirements center around developing a dissertation prospectus and will include research design, a review of area and theoretical literature, and the significance of the proposed project. Additionally, the preparation of conference papers and articles for publication, as well as how to prepare grant proposals for funding agencies, will be explored.

Span 2452: Contemporary Latin American Film

Beginning with an examination of the militant Latin American films of the 1960s and 70s, this course explores the ways in which the various film industries of Latin America have established and negotiated their position(s) in the global arena. Combining political radicalism with artistic innovation, the concept of Third Cinema -- in conjunction with other Marxist-inspired film theories of the late 60s and 70s -- immediately gained international recognition and became the vanguard revolutionary cinematic movement of that time. The influence of Third Cinema continues to the present, where individual filmmakers and alternative film industries question and challenge dominant Western cinematic practices. The focus of this course is two-fold: first, how do Latin American films connect and relate to Third Cinemas from other Global South locations, such as those from Africa and Asia? Second, how do the Latin American cinemas of today position themselves vis-à-vis Third Cinema as they negotiate with the current conditions of economic and cultural globalization? Is this political and cultural idea still relevant for Latin American film industries that target the global market? Looking also at Latin American films produced in the last two decades, this course will examine the ways in which recent Latin American cinemas deploy and re-fashion certain thematic, aesthetic, and stylistic aspects of Third Cinema not only as a mode of critique but also with the effect of creating a marketable "global" cinema. As such, we will examine the relations and distinctions between national cinema, world cinema, and global cinema. What is the relationship between world cinema and national/regional cinemas? What is national about national cinemas? Moreover, what differing technologies of spatialization underlie the distinction between world cinema and global cinema? This course provides a critical context and mapping strategies for the study of contemporary cinema. It introduces students to theoretical debates about the categorization and global circulation of films, aesthetics, audiences, authorship, and concepts of the transnational and diasporic. Films studied will include Tomás Gutiérrez Alea's Memories of Underdevelopment (1968), Jorge Sanjinés's The Blood of the Condor (1969), Ousmane Sembene's Black Girl (1966), Forough Farrokhzad's The House is Black (1962), Emad Burnat and Guy Dividi's 5 Broken Cameras (2001), Lucrecia Martel's La ciénaga (2001), Pablo Larraín's No (2012), Ciro Guerra's Embrace of the Serpent (2015), Alfonso Cuarón's Roma (2018) among others. Theoretical and critical texts will be culled from Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, Gilles Deleuze, Henri Bergson, Guy DeBord, Ella Shohat, Freya Schiwy, Hamid Naficy, Gayatri Gopinath and Gonzalo Aguilar.

Span 2695: Seminar: 20th Century: Metaphores-Eating-Lusophere

This graduate seminar will offer an overview of Lusophone literatures and cinema spanning the long twentieth century with a focus on the presence (or lack) of food in selected works from Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, and Mozambique and its intersections with issues including, but not limited to, race, gender, sexuality, and class. Throughout the course, students will engage in critical discussions of the visceral politics of hunger and lack; cannibalism, and Lusophone histories; as well as the ways food and eating practices are used as literary and filmic tropes of resistance and/or inspiration for social change or the demarcation of (deviant) identities. The seminar will also uncover the intersections of digestive politics and power/hegemony. Discussions, presentations, and individual research will aim to demonstrate that representations of food and eating in literatures and film embody meanings beyond superficiality and corporeal survival and instead speak to larger political issues both within the Lusophone world/the Lusosphere and beyond. The following questions will be explored in this seminar: What can be revealed about Lusophone societies and their histories when we look at themes pertaining to food consumption, the lack of food, culturally constructed food norms, and how these themes correlate with social changes? What connections can be made between meals, diets, food choices, food desires, hunger, etc., and issues of power and social class? How does the presence or lack of food influence the construction and maintenance of gender norms? How do metaphors of food destabilize, uphold and/or create hegemony? What are the political and anthropological meanings of food pertaining to its procurement, preparation, fetishization, lack, consumption, and (in)digestion in the contexts of literary and filmic works? What do Lusophone literary and filmic representations of food reveal about the politics of food on a global scale?

Span 2422-Colonial Topics: Indiginous Thinkers in Colonial Andes

The goal of this seminar is to do an in-depth reading of indigenous critical thinking in the colonial Andes, focusing on the work of Guaman Poma de Ayala and Garcilaso de la Vega. It will be about creatively examining problems their texts still pose today, making sense of things that are ineludible but have been largely ignored. Some of the broader ideas this seminar invites you to ponder are the ways in which religion, race, and knowledge intertwined in the 16th and early 17th centuries; the relations between Andeanism ('lo andino') and the colonial past; the impact of the Western dualist thinking both in the 16th century and today; the problem of the interplay of difference and similitude between Europeans and Indians, and their impact on colonial and contemporary agendas. In addition to Guaman Poma's and Garcilaso's works and critical studies of them, course material includes 16th- and 17th-century colonialist texts and studies of cultural, social, and political dynamics in the colonial Andes. Class discussions and assignments can be in Spanish or English, but you must understand both languages well. Final papers can be about anything related to what is discussed during the semester; they do not have to be necessarily about colonialism or the Andes.

Span 2461-Latin American Novel

This course will focus on Latin American novels that engage historiography, with an examination of both narrative fiction and historical sources. Some of the works to be discussed are Elena Garro's Los recuerdos del porvenir, Augusto Roa Bastos's Hijo de hombre and Yo el Supremo, Mario Vargas Llosa's La guerra del fin del mundo (in relation to Euclides da Cunha's Os Sertões), Juan José Saer's El entenado, Félix Luna's Soy Roca, Ricardo Piglia's Respiración artificial, Rubem Fonseca's Agosto and Gabriela Cabezón Camara's Las aventuras de la China Iron. Theoretical background will include Hayden White, Dominick LaCapra, Michel de Certeau, Paul Ricoeur, Suzanne Gearhart, and Lynn Hunt.

SPAN 2464-Latin American 20th Century Topics

The Caribbean summarizes the successive colonizations it has endured. This palimpsest has been studied by several scholars such as Sarduy, Glissant, Sylvia Winter, and many others. This course will emphasize the women producers of the Caribbean text. The rhizomatic texture of their production will help us focus on three main topics and their global repercussions: literature, painting, and music from the XX-XXI. Some of the authors to be read are Gerty Dambury, Marta Aponte, Maryse Condé, Jamaica Kincaid, Ana Lydia Vega, Marlene Nourbese Philip, Mayra Montero, Myrna Báez, Rita Indiana Hernandez, Edwidge Danticat, Julia Alvarez, Marie Vieux- Chauvet, and some male authors. History and politics play an important part in the conceptual and global dimensions of this dialogue.

Span 2704-Special Topics in Literary Criticism: Pharmacologies of Fiction

This course will combine two approaches: A) It will be based on the hypothesis that the relational continuum that engages fiction and nonfiction also enacts the relational continuum of the normal and the pathological in as much as both sets of relationships may be conceived as open fields of experimentation with antinomies such as nature and culture, fantasy and reality, lack and excess, presence and absence, life and death, and so on; B) It will assume Gilles Deleuze's thesis that most poignant literary works are addressed to a people that will never read them. Many literary works may be read as ethnography and vice versa, ending ethnoliterature with an impressively broad spectrum. The fact that the colonial and postcolonial history of Latin America conditions the particular convergence of these two approaches will be a point of departure. The reading list will include recent fiction by Mónica Ojeda, Larraquy, Quirós, Cabiya, and others; fiction from the French-speaking Caribbean, by Chamoiseaux, from the English-speaking Caribbean, by Harris; ethnographies by Clastres and Wilbert, ethnoliterary fiction by Döblin, and proper mythographies by indigenous authors.