South American Narratives of Dictatorship and Exile

Module code: SP2071
Module co-ordinatorDr Emma Staniland

Module Aims

This module introduces and explores the social and political shifts that led to the establishment of dictatorships in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay in the 1970s and 1980s, and examines the impact of these events through creative responses to them. To this end, we will look at short stories, a novel, poems, essays and journalistic writings, and a film, all of which explore and examine life under authoritarian rule, forms of resistance to it, and the alternative experience of exile.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completing this module, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the texts and films studied that is informed by a grasp of the historical, social and political backgrounds these works explore
  • Describe and analyse, using an appropriate critical vocabulary, different genres of cultural expression, including the short story, the contemporary novel, and film
  • Express this knowledge in oral presentations and written assignments


  • 20 hours of seminars
  • 180 hours of guided independent study

Assessment Methods

  • Essay, 2,000-2,500 words (70%)
  • In-class presentation (10%)
  • In-class exam, 1 hour (20%)

Set Texts

  • My House is on Fire (1990), Ariel Dorfman (Chile, Short Stories and Short Film)
  • La Historia oficial (2004), Luis Puenzo (Dir.) (Argentina, film)
  • Conversación al sur (1981), Marta Traba (Argentina, novel)
  • Selected poems from Piedritas en la ventana, Mario Benedetti (Uruguay, poems)
  • Selected poems from El estado de exilio, Cristian Peri Rossi (Uruguay, poems)