Gender in the Spanish American Development Novel: Selfhood and Society

Module code: SP3161

This module explores four novels by Spanish American women writers of the Latin American ‘Post-Boom generation’ (1980s onwards), with a particular view to examining the portrayal of gendered identity formation that takes place in their work. We will discuss their texts as versions of the ‘novel of development’ (or Bildungsroman) – an originally European genre that has been adapted by these writers as a vehicle for examining gendered selfhood and related social concerns. The course will therefore also entail engagement with other themes key to literature from Spanish America, including dictatorship, exile, revolution, and national identities, as we consider the relationship between the individual and their social context, and the role of literature in articulating and impacting upon both selfhood and society.

Through successful participation in this module, you will be enabled to develop a critical awareness of the texts studied that is informed by a sound understanding of the historical, social and political backgrounds in response to which they were created. As part of the module assessment you will also have the chance to choose and explore gender studies-relevant issues in present-day Spanish American contexts. You will also have opportunity to develop the skills and approaches required to critically analyse the literature in question, and to express this knowledge in oral presentations and written assignments, using appropriately academic language.

Topics covered

  • The 'novel of development' as genre - its key tenets and thematic foci
  • The connections between literary genre and gendered identities
  • Gendered identity as a social construct in Latin America
  • The construction of femininity and notions of womanhood in Latin American cultures
  • The role of women writers in challenging patriarchal thinking, and in challenging gendered identities as a part of the patriarchal system
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