Drugs and Displacement in Contemporary Colombian Culture

Module code: SP2036

Module co-ordinatorDr Lesley Wylie

Module Aims

This module will introduce you to aspects of contemporary Colombian culture through an examination of two recent films, a novel and a testimonial narrative. It will begin with a consideration of the recent history of Colombia, particularly of the drug industry, and will go on to explore the social and political contexts of each of the set texts and to analyse their themes and style.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module you will have developed a critical awareness of the texts and films studied and of their social and historical contexts. You will be able to discuss recurrent themes in contemporary Colombian culture and to demonstrate your knowledge of literary and cinematic techniques through oral and written presentations.

Teaching and Learning Methods

Classes will largely take the form of introductory lectures, seminars, and presentations.


  • Essay, 2000-2,500 words (50%)
  • Presentation (20%)
  • Exam, 90 minutes (30%)

Set texts

  • María, llena eres de gracia [Maria Full of Grace] (2004) Joshua Marston (dir.)
  • Alfredo Molano: Desterrados: Crónicas del desarraigo (Ancora, 2001)
  • Molano, trans. Daniel Bland: The Dispossessed: Chronicles of the Desterrados of Colombia (Haymarket Books, 2005)
  • La vendedora de rosas [The Rose Seller] (1998) Víctor Gaviria (dir.)
  • Fernando Vallejo: La virgen de los sicarios [1994] (Alfaguara, 2008)
  • Vallejo, trans. Paul Hammond: Our Lady of the Assassins (Serpent’s Tail, 2001)

Key background reading

  • Grace Livingstone: Inside Colombia: Drugs, Democracy and War (LAB, 2003)
  • Jenny Pearce: Colombia: Inside the Labyrinth (LAB, 1990)
  • Frank Safford and Marco Palacios: Colombia: Fragmented Land, Divided Society (OUP, 2002)