Literature of the Western Hemisphere

CMLIT 005, Spring 2010

Literature of the Western Hemisphere begins with origin narratives from indigenous American peoples and then examines the history of exploration, conquest, colonization, revolution, and industrialization. These shifts hinge North and South America. Though broad in its sweep, this survey delves deeply into specific local traditions, cultures, and histories as we look at literature engaged with issues of colonialism, nationalism, slavery, diaspora, and migration. We will also pay specific attention to the role of oral traditions within written texts. Our coursework includes literature in translation from Portuguese, French, and Spanish (among other languages) in equal proportion to those written in English. Using a transnational and postcolonial framework, we will examine how different literary traditions flex categories like genre, form and period. Foregrounding race, ethnicity, class, gender, and religion will set the stage for our exploration of hemispheric notions of “Americanness.” Students will learn to situate literature of the Americas within historical, literary, and social contexts.

Patrick Chamoiseau, School Days
Maryse CondéI, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem
Joaquim Maria Machado de AssisThe Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas
Stephen Tapscott (ed.), Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology
Jean Toomer, Cane