Hispanic Studies 400. Seminar in Hispanic Studies
Don Quixote is the story of a passionate reader of Chivalric novels who read, “until his brain dried up and he lost his wits.” Don Quixote, obsessed with knights’ stories, decides to become a knight-errant himself, righting wrongs and protecting the oppressed. Through his adventures in the novel, we will explore its generic multiplicity and the historical, cultural, and social diversity of the period. Our reading will attempt to contextualize Cervantes’ work within its historical moment, while exploring questions of madness, erotic and literary desire, plays on authorship, the seductions and the dangers of reading, the status of representation, and the workings of gender, race, class and nation. More specifically, the course will focus on Don Quixote’s insanity and how Cervantes, through his characters, challenges the state’s attempt to categorize its subjects.
Fiction and Documentary in Latin America
Latin America has a long history of testimonial writing as well as documentary film. Yet how do these written and film genres distinguish themselves from fictional representation, which often also incorporates historical material and film footage and contains claims to truth and reality? This course explores the fluid boundary between fiction and documentary in contemporary Latin American writing and film. By examining testimonial writing, fiction, and both fictional and documentary film, we will attempt to trace how these various cultural productions convey concepts of truth and fiction, reality and fantasy. In particular, we will consider the implications of these modalities for the representation of local, regional, and national realities in Latin America and their reception in the wider world.