The Novela de la Selva

Module code: SP3139

This module will explore la novela de la selva – a group of twentieth-century Latin American novels set in the Amazon rainforest. Whilst many of these novels seem to offer a colonial view of the Amazon as a ‘green hell’, full of poisonous insects, lethal diseases, and ‘savages’, they also show an interest in indigenous themes, particularly myths of the forest. As well as tracing the development of the genre from the 1920s to the 1980s, the module will explore how the novela de la selva was fundamental to Latin American expressions of political and literary independence throughout the twentieth century. On completion of this module you will have developed a critical awareness of the novela de la selva, as well as of the socio-political and literary contexts of the set texts. You will be able to identify the central themes of the genre and compare and contrast Latin American representations of the Amazon with earlier European accounts of the jungle. You will be able to demonstrate your knowledge in class discussions and informed written presentations.

Topics covered

  • Postcolonial landscape aesthetics
  • Plant horror
  • Masculinity
  • Indigenous identity
  • Unreliable narration


  • Introductory lectures on each text, followed by seminar presentations and group discussions.


  • One Coursework essay of 2,500-3,000 words (50%)
  • One 3-hour examination (50%)