21G.716 | Fall 2007 | Undergraduate

Introduction to Contemporary Hispanic Literature


Course Meeting Times

Discussions: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


This course studies representative twentieth and twenty-first-century texts and films from Hispanic America and Spain. Emphasis is on developing strategies for analyzing the genres of the novel, the short story, the poem, the fictional film, and the theatrical script. The novels read this semester are Magali García Ramis’s Felices días, Tío Sergio (1986, Puerto Rico) and Javier Cercas’s Soldados de Salamina (2001, Spain). We will study Lorca’s play “La casa de Bernarda Alba” (1936, Spain), films from Spain, México, and Cuba, poems by Darío (Nicaragua), Machado (Spain), Lorca (Spain), Hernández (Spain), Vallejo (Perú), Cernuda (Spain), and Luis Palés Matos (Puerto Rico), and short stories from México (by an exiled Spanish writer), Chile, Argentina, and Cuba. Thematic emphasis is on the Spanish Civil War, changing attitudes toward gender, the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, and the history of race in the Americas. This is a HASS-D subject.


The prerequisite is one intermediate subject in Spanish or permission of the instructor.


You will need to purchase two books. Please make sure to purchase only the editions I have requested for the class. We all need to be on the same page. The texts are:

Ramis, Magali García. Felices días, Tío Sergio. 13a ed. San Juan, P.R.: Editorial Cultural, 2005. ISBN: 9781567580051.

Cercas, Javier. Soldados de Salamina. Madrid, Spain: Tusquets-Andanzas, 2001. ISBN: 9788483101612.

Books on Reserve and Photocopies

I will submit a long list of books to be placed on reserve for this subject. At the beginning of the semester, the Library may still have only a few titles on its Web page. Be patient. I will ask the librarians to start placing titles that you may wish to consult during the first five weeks of class, and it may take them up to a week to put these on. There will also be a certain number of photocopies that will be distributed in class. You will be charged for these at the end of the semester.


We will be seeing and discussing four films this semester. The Humanities Film Office will schedule public screenings of these films, which will be at 7:00 in the evening. The dates are indicated in the syllabus. Unless you have a valid excuse or conflict, it is obligatory that you attend these showings. Attendance will be taken. Every student is expected to have seen the films before we discuss them in class.

All films can also be viewed in the Language Learning and Resource Center (LLARC): Our films will have scheduled viewing times in the LLARC. You can see the film on the ODD hour anytime the LLARC is open. So if you look at the LLARC’s schedule on its webpage, this means that Monday - Thursday, our films will show at 9 and 11 a.m., and 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 p.m. Friday, the last showing is at 1 pm (because the LLARC closes at 3), and Sunday, the first showing is at 3 p.m. (when the LLARC opens). This way you will know exactly when you can expect to pick up the movie to begin viewing it in one of the LLARC’s studios. If you want to start viewing the film before the scheduled times, and no one is watching it, you can start when you want, but if someone comes to watch the film at the ODD hour, you will have to start the film over again, in a studio, at that time. The studios accommodate up to ten students at any one time. You might like to arrange to see the film with other classmates and discuss it with them afterwards.


According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, to plagiarize is “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own: use (a created production) without crediting the source; to commit literary theft: present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.”

This includes copying something out of a book, newspaper, journal or any other printed source, as well as electronic resources such as the World Wide Web without the appropriate acknowledgement. According to this definition, plagiarism would also include the following:

  • using material created by another student at your school or anywhere else and passing it off as your own (with or without their consent).
  • using a paper-writing “service” which offers to sell written papers for a fee.
  • translations (with or without translation software) of texts from other languages and submitting them as your own work.

Plagiarism is an extremely serious academic offence. Students should be aware that they will be severely penalized if caught engaging in any form of plagiarism. If you have any questions or doubts about how to document the sources of your ideas, please consult your instructor. For further information you can consult the MIT Libraries: What is plagiarism and how to avoid it.


Over the weekend of the first week, students will inform professor of which of the following three options they prefer. The instructor will announce the option she has chosen after reading the student feedback. [Note: the instructor chose Option #1, although with varying numbers of pages per paper, for the Fall 2007 semester.]

I. Option #1

Seven 3-page papers 60%
3-hour final exam 15%
Class performance 25%

1. Papers. Note: This is a HASS-D subject and therefore requires a minimum of 20 pages of student writing distributed throughout the semester. There will be seven (7) scheduled paper assignments with a total of 21 pages. Only twenty (20) of these pages, however, will count for your semester grade. One informal one-page paper will count as a rough draft in preparation for a three-page paper that will be a rewrite and expansion of the one-page informal paper.

Each written page will count for up to three (3) percentage points. Therefore, each paper is worth the maximum number of possible pages X 3.

7 papers, with a total of 21 pages (minus 1 page = the paper counted as a rough draft) = (a total of 20 pages) X 3 = 60 points, or 60% of the final grade.

2. Final exam = 15 points or 15% of the final grade.

3. Class performance (including attendance, quality and quantity of class participation, and oral reports) = 25 points or 25% of final grade.

II. Option #2

Five 4-page papers 60%
3-hour final exam 15%
Class performance 25%

III. Option #3

Six short essays of variable length 60%
3-hour final exam 15%
Class performance 25%

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2007
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples