Skip to main content

Study information

The Making of Modern Latin America: History Through Literature and Culture

Module titleThe Making of Modern Latin America: History Through Literature and Culture
Module codeMLS1066
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Katie Brown (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Latin America, with its Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries, is a continent characterised by long-standing historical and cultural continuities, and rich diversity. This module explores these complex dynamics and tensions by studying key aspects of Latin American history, literature and culture from the nineteenth century to contemporary times. Through the prism of texts from different media, including literature, poetry, music and film, the module examines topics relating to continental and country-specific historical and cultural experiences, such as military dictatorship, popular revolution/resistance, immigration/exile and national/ personal identity, memory, the struggle for democracy and the search for new modes of artistic expression.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to:

  • Introduce you to Latin American history, literature and culture by exploring seminal historical and cultural episodes and experiences, from the nineteenth century to the present day, through a close reading of texts spanning a range of written, oral and visual media and genres
  • Develop historical and cultural understanding of a possibly unfamiliar continent with deep-rooted connections with Spain and Portugal, the former colonial powers
  • Encourage independent and collaborative specialised study of selected topics and texts, developing valuable transferable skills in historical/cultural contextualisation, textual analysis, critical thinking, oral discussion and team work

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate an understanding of key aspects of historical, literary and cultural developments in nineteenth-century to present-day Latin America
  • 2. Read and analyse passages from selected Latin American texts, relating them to specified aspects of their historical and cultural contexts
  • 3. View and analyse visual culture (e.g. films/paintings) from Latin America, relating them to specified aspects of their historical and cultural contexts

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Describe and evaluate, under guidance from the module tutor, key critical responses to topics/texts and apply standard critical approaches to the historical and cultural material covered
  • 5. Mount an argument in sound written English using basic textual or other evidence
  • 6. Use a reading list and other sources to identify critically material relevant to a given aspect of the subjects covered, and report critical findings orally or in writing where appropriate

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Present a simple but cogent argument orally or in writing where appropriate, in English, on a specified topic and following guidelines provided

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • A historical overview of Latin America from the nineteenth century to contemporary times
  • National/Personal Pictorial Narratives of Post-Revolutionary Mexico: Diego Rivera’s Public Murals and  Frida Kahlo’s portraits
  • Authority and Rebellion in Peru: Los cachorros, by Mario Vargas Llosa
  • Myth and archive: Crónica de una muerte anunciada by Gabriel García Márquez
  • Memory and the Struggle for Democracy in Post-Dictatorship Argentina: La historia oficial, film by Luis Puenzo
  • Challenges in contemporary Brazil: Cidade de Deus, film by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund
  • Contemporary Chilean writing

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching66 x 1 hour lecture
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1010 x 1 hour seminars
Guided Independent Study134Independent study time

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Annotated bibliography500 words1-4, 6Written individual feedback and group discussion

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Portfolio100Various tasks totalling 2000 words1-7Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PortfolioPortfolio1-7Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic background reading:

  • Fowler, Will. Latin America Since 1780 (London: Routledge, 2016)
  • Franco, Jean. An Introduction to Spanish-American Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994)
  • Green, Duncan with Sue Branford, Faces of Latin America (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2013)
  • Hart, Stephen and Richard Young, Contemporary Latin American Cultural Studies (London: Arnold, 2003)
  • King, John. Magical Reels. A History of Cinema in Latin America (London: Verso, 2000)
  • Standish, Peter. A Companion to Mexican Studies (Woodbridge: Tamesis, 2006)
  • Swanson, Philip (ed.), The Companion to Latin American Studies (London: Arnold, 2003)
  • Williamson, Edwin. The Penguin History of Latin America (London: Penguin Books, 2009)

A full bibliography of recommended reading will be provided at the start of the module

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Latin America; Latin American history; dictatorships in Latin America; Latin American revolutions; Spanish-American culture; Hispanic film

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

A-Level Spanish or equivalent (i.e. no Beginners of Spanish)

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date