Political Violence and Narrative of the Americas
C LIT 321 A / JSIS 480 A
In much of the Americas modernization has been accompanied by rampant abuse of human rights, by massacres and tortures carried out by armies and governments, as well as by rogue groups taking advantage of weak states. Using Jean Franco’s new book Cruel Modernity (Duke UP, 2013) as our conceptual framework, we will read recent narrative and watch films from various regions of the Americas (the Southern Cone, Central America and Mexico, the US, and the Caribbean). These works deal with political violence in its various forms: from military repression, torture and disappearance to the violence associated with human trafficking and the drug cartels. We will read Roberto Bolaño’s Distant Star, Martín Kohan’s School for Patriots, Patricio Pron’s My Father’s Ghost Is Climbing in the Rain, Oscar Martínez’s The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail, and Junot Díaz’s The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Films will include La mirada invisible / The Invisible Eye (Argentina), Violeta Went Up to Heaven (Chile), La bestia (Guatemala), and La fiesta del chivo/The Feast of the Goat (Peru). Students will be responsible for writing a final 5-7-page analytical essay and for directing the class discussion of one set of readings, in addition to participating actively in our other discussions.