SPAN30070 Latin American Literature II: To the Boom and Beyond

Academic Year 2023/2024

The aim of this option is to examine the development and flourishing of the novel form in Latin America in the late twentieth century. The course will chart the genre’s progress through three canonical texts: 'El Señor Presidente' (1946) by Miguel Ángel Asturias, an example of the dictator novel which is seen to be based on the rule of Manuel Cabrera Estrada in early twentieth-century Guatemala and is also interpreted as an example of the ‘new novel’ in Latin America for its stylistic and linguistic innovation. The course will then move to discussion of 'Cien años de soledad' (1967) by Gabriel García Márquez, probably the single best known Latin American novel and seen to typify the ‘boom’ period of Latin American literature, characterised by original stylistic forms such as magical realism and the blurring of myth and history. The ‘boom’ also saw the Latin American novel become popularised on a global as a well as local level. The final text to be studied is also considered a canonical novel of the post-boom. This is Isabel Allende’s 'La casa de los espíritus' (1982), a historical novel which incorporates elements associated with the boom such as magical realism, while also returning to pre-boom narrative techniques such as realism and chronological storytelling.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
• Put these texts into their historical and social context.
• Identify and discuss the different literary techniques employed in the texts and put these into the context of the development of Latin American literature more generally.
• To undertake a close reading of part of a text, to highlight, for example, certain stylistic features characteristic of the novel.
• Be familiar and comfortable with some of the key critical theories and ideas around these novels and able to integrate them into their own arguments.
• Work individually on analysis of the novels (essay) and in groups online to present an original presentation on a topic not necessarily about, but linked to the novels/authors in some way.

Indicative Module Content:

Week 1: Introduction to the course. Short readings (to be provided)

To the boom and beyond: the development of Latin American Literature. Questions to consider: What features do you associate with the traditional novel? What features do you associate with Latin American literature and why, particularly with Latin America? How might the novel deal with and approach history and might this differ from other historical sources? 'El Señor Presidente': Genesis, influences, the ‘new’ novel

Week 2: 'El Señor Presidente': Myth and the novel (class 1) and atmosphere and the novel (class 2)

Week 3: The ‘boom’ and Gabriel García Márquez. Magical realism.

Week 4: 'Cien años de soledad': introduction (class 1) and history (class 2)

Week 5: 'Cien años de soledad': humour and Information session on presentation skills

Week 6: Women in Cien años. Group presentations

Week 7: Reading week, use this time to read the texts and to prepare your presentations

Week 8: La casa de los espíritus: introduction. Group presentations

Week 9: Casa and Cien años. Group presentations

Week 10: Casa: dual narration and écriture féminine. Group presentations.

Week 11: Comparison of the texts. Quiz. Group presentations

Week 12: Individual revision sessions in preparation for the final essay. Presentations if needed.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning






Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This trimester this course will be taught face to face unless public health guidelines dictate otherwise. The earlier classes will be more lecture heavy as I introduce and outline the novels but student participation in the classes is encouraged and expected. Students will give group presentations from week 6 onwards.

Students are welcome to approach me for one-to-one feedback/ help during online/ F2F office hours or by appointment. I will be offering F2F essay revision sessions with students in the class time in week 12.

*Trigger warning: Please be advised that the module contains content and discussion of content which some students may find disturbing including rape, incest, violence and torture. I will remind students of this before the course commences and at the beginning of classes where such content may be discussed.


Please be aware that this is a literature course and, as such, and given the focus on the boom/ post-boom, the reading of three novels is required. You need to be reading the novels in Spanish but can also read them in English if it helps. The books will be available on Brightspace in ebook format, though it is advisable to have your own copy.
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Essay: Students will write a comparative essay on at least 2 of the texts studied of 2500-2750 words (including all references) to be submitted by the end of week 12 Week 12 n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Presentation: Students will present as a group on an aspect of the module/ texts separate to their essays Varies over the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will get questions on their group presentation directly after delivery. Pre-submission guidance and post-submission feedback will be delivered on the group assignment and on the individual essay.

Recommended background reading (this is an indicative list and you may well find other appropriate sources online as there is certainly a lot of criticism on these authors available).

• Catherine Davies, The Companion to Hispanic Studies
• Philip Swanson, The Companion to Latin American Studies;
—Latin American Fiction;
—The New Novel in Latin America
—Landmarks in Modern Latin American Fiction
• Donald L. Shaw, The Companion to Modern Spanish American Fiction;
—The Post-Boom in Spanish American Fiction;
—Nueva narrativa hispanoamericana
• Raymond L. Williams, The Twentieth-Century Spanish American Novel;
—The Postmodern Novel in Latin America
• John King, Modern Latin American Fiction;
—The Cambridge Companion to Modern Latin American Culture
• Efraín Kristal, The Cambridge Companion to the Latin American Novel
• D.P.Gallagher, Modern Latin American Literature
• Naomi Lindstrom, Twentieth-century Spanish American Fiction
• Stephen Hart, A Companion to Spanish American Literature;
—The Companion to Latin American Cultural Studies
—Stephen Hart and Wen-chin Ouyang, A Companion to Magical Realism
• Verity Smith, Encyclopedia of Latin American Literature
• Roberto González Echevarría and Enrique Pupo-Walker, Cambridge History of Latin American Literature
• Gerald Martin, Journeys through the Labyrinth
• Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy Faris, Magical Realism
• W. Fowler, Latin America 1800-2000: Modern History for Modern Languages (London: Arnold / OUP, 2002)
• J. Franco, Spanish American Literature since Independence (London: Benn, 1973)
• E. Camayd-Freixas, Realismo mágico y primitivismo: Relecturas de Carpentier, Asturias, Rulfo y García Márquez (Oxford: University Press of America, 1989)

• R. González Echevarría, Myth and Archive: A Theory of Latin American Narrative (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990)

• G. Fernández Ariza (ed.), Literatura hispanoamericana del siglo XX: memoria y escritura (Málaga: Universidad de Málaga, 2002)

• G. Fernández Ariza (ed.), Literatura hispanoamericana del siglo XX. Literatura y arte Málaga: Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Málaga, 2008)

• B. Harlow, Resistance Literature (New York: Methuen, 1987)
• J. Calviño Iglesias, Historia, ideología y mito en la narrativa hispanoamericana contemporánea (Madrid: Ayuso, 1987)
• J. Stubbs Brushwood, The Spanish American Novel: A Twentieth Century Survey (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1975)
• R. L. Williams, The Twentieth-Century Spanish American Novel (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003)
• E.H. Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America, chaps. 8, 9, 15 (Harmondsworth: Penguin Allen Lane, 1992)
• R. Wright, Stolen Continents: 500 Years of Conquest and Resistance in the Americas (London: Phoenix, 2000)
• L. P. Zamora, The Usable Past: the Imagination of History in Recent Fiction of the Americas, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997)


• Miguel Angel Asturias, El Señor Presidente, critical edition, ed. R. Navas Ruiz
• Richard J. Callan, Miguel Angel Asturias
• Teresa Rodríguez, La problemática de la identidad en El Señor Presidente de Miguel Angel Asturias
• René Prieto, Miguel Angel Asturias’s Archaeology of Return
• Stephen Henighan, Assuming the Light: The Parisian Literary Apprenticeship of Miguel Angel Asturias
• J. J. Barrueto, ‘Latin American Indian Re-Reads the Canon: Postcolonial Mimicry in “El Señor Presidente”’, Hispanic Review, Vol. 72, No. 3, (Summer, 2004), pp. 339-356

• R. J. Callan, ‘Babylonian Mythology in “El Señor Presidente”’, Hispania, Vol. 50, No. 3, (Sep., 1967), pp. 417-424

• J. Himelblau, ‘El Señor Presidente: Antecedents, Sources, and Reality’, Hispanic Review, Vol. 41, No. 1, (Winter, 1973), pp. 43-78

• J. A. Rosado, El presidente y el caudillo: mito y realidad en dos novelas de la dictadura: La sombra del caudillo, de Martín Luis Guzmán y El señor presidente, de Miguel Ángel Asturias (México, D.F.: Ediciones Coyoacán, 2001)

• M. Rosello, ‘El Señor Presidente: “Moi, la Vérité je parle”’, Modern Language Studies, Vol. 20, No. 3, (Summer, 1990), pp. 92-99

García Márquez

• Philip Swanson, The Cambridge Companion to Gabriel García Márquez
— Cómo leer a Gabriel García Márquez
• Raymond Williams, A Companion to Gabriel García Márquez
• Michael Bell, Gabriel García Márquez
• Robin Fiddian, García Márquez
• Bernard McGuirk and Richard Cardwell, García Márquez: New Readings
• Gabriel García Márquez, 100 Years of Solitude (Landmarks of World Literature). Foreword and detailed introduction by Micheal Wood.
• Micheal Bell, Gabriel García Marquez: Solitude and Solidarity (Baskingstoke: MacMillan, 1993)

• Ariel Dorfman, Some Write to the Future: Essays on Contemporary Latin American Fiction, trans. by George Shiver (Durham: Duke University Press, 1991), 201-221

• Peter Earle, Gabriel García Márquez (Madrid: Taurus, 1981)

• Roberto González-Echevarria, ‘Cien años de soledad: The Novel as Myth and Archive’, in Modern Language Notes, 99:2 (1984), pp. 358-80

• Regina Janes, One hundred years of solitude: Modes of reading, (Boston, Mass: Twayne's masterworks studies, 1991)

• James Higgins, ‘Gabriel García Márquez: Cien años de soledad’, in Swanson, Landmarks in Modern Latin American Fiction (London: Routledge, 1990)

• Susan. J. Levine, El espejo hablado: Un estudio de ‘Cien años de soledad’ (Caracas: Monte Avila, 1975)

• Josefina Ludmer, ‘Cien años de soledad’: Una interpretación (Buenos Aires: Tiempo Contemporáneo, 1972)

• Graciela Maturo, Claves simbólicas de García Márquez (Buenos Aires: García Cambeiro, 1972)

• Steven Minta, Gabriel García Márquez, Writer of Colombia (London: Jonathan Cape, 1987)

• George R. McMurray, Gabriel García Márquez (New York: Ungar, 1977)
─ Critical Essays on Gabriel García Márquez (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1987)

• Kathleen McNerney, Understanding Gabriel García Márquez (Columbia: South Carolina UP, 1989)


• Harold Bloom, Isabel Allende
• Linda Gould Levine, Isabel Allende
• Patricia Hart, Narrative Magic in the Fiction of Isabel Allende
• Sonia Riquelme Rojas and Edna Aguirre Rehbein, Critical Approaches to Isabel Allende’s Novels
• Lloyd Davies, Allende: La casa de los espíritus (Grant and Cutler: Critical Guides to Spanish Texts).
• Marcelo Coddeu, ‘La casa de los espíritus y la historia’ (JSTOR)
• Sandra M. Boschett ‘Dialéctica metatextual y sexual en La casa de los espíritus de Isabel Allende’ (JSTOR)

• Doris Meyer, "Parenting the Text": Female Creativity and Dialogic Relationships in Isabel Allende's La casa de los espíritus (JSTOR)

• Sharon Magnarelli, "Framing Power in Luisa Valenzuela's Cola de lagartija [The Lizard's Tail] and Isabel Allende's Casa de los espíritus." [The House of the Spirits] in Splintering darkness: Latin American women writers in search of themselves , ed. Lucia Guerra Cunningham.

• Marcelo Coddou, ed., Los libros tienen sus propios espíritus: Estudios sobre Isabel Allende (Xalapa, Mexico: Universidad Veracruzana, 1987)
• R.G. Feal & Y.E. Miller, eds., Isabel Allende Today, [special issue of Latin American Literary Review, 60 (2002)]

• Susan Frenk, ‘The Wandering Text: Situating the Narratives of Isabel Allende’, in Latin American Women’s Writing: Feminist Readings in Theory and Crisis, eds. Amy Brooksbank Jones & Catherine Davies (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996)

• R-R. García Johnson, ‘The Struggle for Space: Feminism and Freedom in The House of the Spirits’, in Revista Hispánica Moderna 67:1 (1994), pp. 184-93

• Gabriela Mora, ‘Las novelas de Isabel Allende y el papel de la mujer como ciudadana’, in Ideologies and Literature, II (1987), pp. 53-61

• Philip Swanson, ‘Tyrants and Trash: Sex, Class and Culture in La casa de los espíritus’, in Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 71:2 (1994), pp. 217-37
• Cristina Ruis Serrano, ‘Paradigmas patriarcales en el realismo mágico: alteridad femenina y ‘feminismo mágico’ en La casa de los espíritus de Isabel Allende y Los recuerdos del porvenir de Elena Garro’, Bulletin of Spanish Studies, 88: 6, 2011, pp. 863-885.

• Karen Wooley Martin, Isabel Allende's 'House of the spirits' trilogy: narrative geographies
Woodbridge: Tamesis (2010).

• Susan R. Frick, ‘Memory and Retelling: The Role of Women in La casa de los espíritus’, Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies, 7:1 (2001), pp.27-41.

Name Role
Dr Pascale Baker Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Richard Huddleson Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Paul McAleer Lecturer / Co-Lecturer