Arts of Urgency: Latin American Film and Literature

Fall 2019
Winter 2020
Class Size: 46
25% Reserved for Freshmen
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

animation, media studies
Alice Nelson headshot.
Spanish language, Latin American studies

In this program, students will explore the historical and cultural contexts of Latin American film, animation, and literature, beginning with Third Cinema in the 1960s and continuing into the present. This has been a time of Third World liberation movements and authoritarian repression of those movements, First World aggression and the rise of neoliberalism, struggles for democracy, and ongoing persistence of movements for social transformation.  Many artists have participated actively in these urgent struggles, strategically intervening to foster progressive change in their own countries and beyond.

In our study, we will ask how can artists center the voices of historically-marginalized peoples? How can they represent horror, suffering, or collective trauma without beautifying it, or re-traumatizing the people who experienced it? How might artistic forms activate and enliven social memory?  What artistic or rhetorical strategies, including humor, work effectively to inspire social change, criticism and resilience? What are the particular challenges of making effective political art, especially in times of urgency?

As we learn about the genres and representational strategies that Latin American artists, authors, and filmmakers have developed, students will build skills in close reading of literature and film, writing, critical thinking, and analysis of social and political themes. These include visual and written storytelling skills and basic analog animation techniques. Students will reflect on their own histories and urgent concerns, offering their own creative responses through writing and animation.

In fall quarter, we will focus on Third Cinema, including the flourishing of Cuban cinema after the 1959 Revolution, and the rise and fall of the democratically elected socialist government of Chile’s  Unidad Popular  as reflected in the films of Patricio Guzmán, among additional cases. In winter, we will continue to track artistic and cultural production in the contexts of neoliberalism and democratization, and questions of social memory and transformation throughout Latin America.  Both quarters, we will explore diverse voices and aesthetic strategies, engaging a broad range of literature, experimental animation, and film from across the region.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

Animation, History, literature, cross cultural studies, media arts & studies, and education


Credits per quarter

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Fall- $325 for Overnight field trip, entrance fees, and art supplies. 

Winter- $50 for entrance fees and art supplies.

Class Standing: Freshman–Senior
Class Size: 46
25% Reserved for Freshmen

Scheduled for: Day

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Tuesday, January 7, 2020 - 9:00 am
SEM 2 D1105 - Lecture

Located in: Olympia

2019-11-26Winter fee reduced to $50 (from $325)
2019-11-12Winter admit conditions updated
2019-05-31Open to AL and reduced to 25% FY from 50%
2019-04-23Fees updated