Mario René Padilla, PhD

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Dr. Mario R. Padilla                                                                            Office: DRSCHR 311 V

Wednesday 6:45-9:50, DH 222                                                

# 4183 - 3 units                                                        



Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry, ed. by Stephen Tapscott

Literatures of Latin America, ed. by W. Barnstone

A composition book is required for the journal, college ruled 10 ¼ in. x 7 7/8, no. 77480.

                A Writer’s Reference, 6th ed., by Diana Hacker, w/ Literary Supplement (recommended)



This course is a survey of twentieth-century Latin American literature: poetry, fiction and essays, beginning with modernismo (1888-1910), a distinctly original Latin American literary movement during which the poet placed the quest for beauty and formal perfection above the depiction of sordid reality. We will then focus on poetry as it passes through subsequent phases following modernismo: postmodernismo  (1910-1918), marked by a trend toward simplicity and verbal directness, less emphasis on formal perfection, and greater attention towards social conscience and cultural identity;  vanguardismo  (1918-1938), whose participants radically reject the past, often embracing left-wing ideology and finding inspiration in contemporary European “make it new” movements, such as cubism, dadasim, surrealism, futurism and expressionism. Throughout this exciting period, which corresponds with Modernism in Anglo-American/European literature, various avant-garde schools of poetry emerge, known by a variety of names:  ultraísmo, estridentismo, los contemporáneos, and creacionismo. The poetry section of the course will then conclude with postvanguardismo, a broadly based label often used to describe the various poetic currents between post-World War II and the early 1970s, which maintain many of the formal innovations of the vanguardistas, while introducing at times existential themes, such as solitude, anguish over the passing of time, the absurdity of life, death, loneliness, erotic love, and cosmic time; this period also includes the Afro-Caribbean poetic movement, with its primitive myths, exotic and sensual sounds, and driving rhythms. Some contemporary poets (post 70s) will be discussed if time allows.

We will begin the prose section of the course with realismo, or criollismo, the prose fiction movement which commenced concomitantly with modernismo, and lasted well into the 1930s, spawning the movement known as “regionalism.” During this time, prose fiction was often naturalistic and colloquial in style and content. From this period, regionalist and realist/naturalist writers will be studied. Undoubtedly, prior to the 1940s, the quality and reputation of Latin American poetry far surpasses that of prose fiction. After 1940, however, with the incredible stories of the Argentinian Jorge Luis Borges leading the way, Latin American prose fiction begins to enjoy greater international renown. His Ficciones is a collection of highly sophisticated metaphysical tales that challenges the tenets of realism and regionalism, while ignoring the social-protest syndrome. Meanwhile, during the 40s, in another part of Latin America, Alejo Carpentier of Cuba and Miguel Angel Asturias of Guatemala are busy writing tales with surrealistic depictions of primitive cultures which will usher in what Carpentier called  lo real maravillos” or magic realism, later popularized in the 1960s by  Colombia’s Gabriel García Márquez in his 1967 masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude (Cien años de soledad). With the 1960s, Latin American fiction enters the “boom” phase of its expanding popularity and a number of boom writers will be read.  The course will conclude exploring key writers from the “post-boom” period, such as Elena Poniatowska.



Upon completing this course, the student will be able to:

1.      read with greater understanding twentieth century Latin American literature, having acquired

the necessary skills through close analytical reading of selected essays, short stories, poems,    and novels.

2.      discuss the essential traits and comparative elements common to all Latin American writing.

3.      discuss the various themes arising concomitantly throughout Latin America during the regions often exciting, sometimes calamitous stages of development.

4.      discuss the key literary movements under which most twentieth century Latin American prose and poetry are currently categorized.

5.      read and think in a critical manner, write literary criticism, including the employment of in-text citations as required by the MLA style of documentation.   



Success in this class will require active involvement in class discussions; thus, attendance is important.  After two absences, the student will be dropped from the class (except for a documented serious illness). Class discussion of the literature will comprise an important portion of your grade, so make every effort to attend class and be on time!  Please note the due dates for assignments and incorporate them into your schedule.  Late  papers  (without  a  medical  excuse)  will  be lowered  one  full  grade.



1.  Journal assignments (15%). The purpose of the journal is to help generate ideas and to give the student an informal arena in which to state reactions to the works read, to record initial explications of key passages, and to help the student think about the work as a whole before class discussion. The standard for each entry is one-half page, single spaced per poem, one page, single spaced per story, and two pages for novel.

2.  One 6-8 page typewritten essay with research (secondary sources) focusing on a particular poem, essay or work of fiction we have covered in class (no bios) (30%),.

3.  In-class editing sessions will be conducted where the student will be asked to respond to the works of his or her peers.  Editing groups will be organized into groups of four; thus, four copies of the typed draft is required for each session.  One-half letter grade will be deducted from the research paper’s final grade for failure to participate in the editing session.

4. Class participation and attendance (15%). Quizzes may be given periodically to insure the class is reading the assigned material in a thorough manner. The student’s performance will be reflected in his or her "class participation" grade. 

5. Class presentation (20%). Presentations can be given solo or with a partner, and should cover literary criticism, or an article regarding an author, his or her work, or the development of Latin American literature in the twentieth century--ten (5-10) minutes in length. 

6. A final exam/essay will be given to test your knowledge of the semester's assignments (20%).


Class participation and attendance                         15%

Journals                                                                       15%

Essay (6-8 pp.)                                                            30%

Class presentation (10 minutes)                                20%

Final exam/essay                                                         20%



Generally, I support the use of a tutor in the revising and editing stages of your essays.  In fact, if your writing falls below acceptable standards for an advanced English course you must take the initiative of seeking tutorial help.  I teach under the assumption that, as English 57 students you have gained the necessary proficiency in the mechanics of writing academic essays and documenting source material using MLA citation procedures. 


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