Sunday, November 7, 2010

Diego Rivera, "Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park," 1947

CLS 2010:  Modern Mexican Literature in Translation
Dr. Roberto Cantú
Fall 2016
Class Meetings: 
Section 03: MW 12:15-1:30 p.m., King Hall B1007. 
 Section 06: MW 1:40-2:55 p.m., ET A331
Office:  King Hall B3023.  Hours: MW 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. 
Telephone: ( 323) 343-2195 (with voice mail)

Announcing Book Presentation and Lecture
Mexican American Author Ron Arias

 (see link below for more information)

I.  Required Course Readings:
1. Fuentes, Carlos. The Death of Artemio Cruz (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).
2. Joseph, Gilbert M. and Timothy Henderson (editors). The Mexico Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Duke U Press). 
3. Paz, Octavio. The Labyrinth of Solitude (Grove Press).
4. Rulfo, Juan. Pedro Páramo (Grove Press).

II.  Course Description and Objectives:
     This course is part of the University’s General Education Lower-Division requirements, listed under Block C2, Humanities.  The course introduces students to readings that are considered masterpieces of Mexican literature. The reading emphasis will be on novels and essays published between 1950 and 1962, but will include selected texts from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, thus creating a literary and cultural context for the required readings. The course readings will allow for critical discussions that connect literature to history, cultural studies, the challenges of modernity in developing nations and, no less significant in educational terms, the vital importance of a literary experience in a student’s life. The course readings require an interdisciplinary method of interpretation that focuses on various topics, such as Mexico’s political tradition before and after its 1910 Revolution (Carlos Fuentes, Octavio Paz); its historical and ethnic relations during and after the Mexican Revolution (Juan Rulfo, Fuentes); and on social class and economic upward mobility after the 1910 Revolution (Fuentes, Paz).  No previous knowledge of Mexican history and culture is required in this course. This course includes a course blog where students can post questions or comments.  The instructor will join discussions when required. 
     The final grade will include plus/minus and will be based on
·         Four essay examinations (20%  each, thus 80% of final grade), Blue Books are required and pens with black or blue ink.  No pencils. 
·         Writing assignment: an autobiographical essay, minimum 5 pages, typed, double-spaced, and due on November 28 (10% of grade).  
·         Class attendance and meaningful participation in class discussions (10%). 

Note: Turn off your cell phones upon entering the classroom. No texting allowed during class lectures and discussions. If you are using a laptop, sit in the front of the classroom (no surfing the web while in class). Class attendance is mandatory. After three unauthorized absences, all further unauthorized absences will affect the student’s final grade by one letter grade. Leaving class early counts as an absence. No late work or electronic attachments in messages will be accepted.  Students are expected to be familiar with University policies regarding plagiarism and academic honesty. Reasonable accommodation will be provided to any student who is registered with the Office of Students with Disabilities and requests accommodation.

III.  Course Readings
August 22    Introduction to course objectives.
August 24    The Mexico Reader, “The Problem of National Culture,” Guillermo Bonfil Batalla, and “”Does it Mean Anything to be Mexican?,” Roger Bartra, pp. 28-40.

August 29    The Mexico Reader, “The Spaniards Entry into Tenochtitlan” Bernal Díaz del Castillo and Hernán Cortés, and “The Battles of Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco,” Anonymous, pp. 97-113.
August 31   The Mexico Reader, “Women and War in Mexico,” Frances Calderόn de la Barca, pp. 196-205; “A Letter from Mexico,” Empress Carlotta, pp. 265-269; and “The Triumph of the Republic,” Benito Juárez, pp. 270-272.

September 5   Labor Day. University Closed. Read The Mexico Reader, “Mexican History in Photographs,” John Mraz, pp. 297-334.
September 7    The Mexico Reader, “Zapatistas in the Palace,” Martin Luis Guzmán, pp. 351-356; “Pancho Villa,” John Reed, pp. 364-371; “Art and Corruption,” David Alfaro Siqueiros, pp. 492-499.

12     Essay examination #1 (Blue book and pen).
September 14     The Labyrinth of Solitude, Chapter 1.

September 19    The Labyrinth of Solitude, Chapter 2-3.
September 21    The Labyrinth of Solitude, Chapter 4.

September 26     The Labyrinth of Solitude, Chapter 5.
September 28     The Labyrinth of Solitude, Chapter 6.

October 3           The Lbyrinth of Solitude, Chapter 7.
October 5          The Labyrinth of Solitude, Chapter 8.

October 10        The Labyrinth of Solitude, Chapter 9.
October 12        Essay Examination #2 (Blue book and pen).

October 17      
Pedro Páramo, Susan Sontag & pp. 3-35.
October 19      Ron Arias: Lecture and Book Presentation.

October 24     Pedro Páramo, pp. 35-95.  
October 26     Pedro Páramo, pp. 96-124.

October 31    The Mexico Reader, “Modesta Gόmez,” Rosario Castellanos, pp. 545-552; “The Two Faces of Acapulco,” Andrew Sackett, pp. 500-510; “The Student Movement of 1968,” Elena Poniatowska, pp. 555-569.   .
November 2    Essay Examination #3 (Blue book and pen).   

November 7    The Death of Artemio Cruz, pp. 3-118.
November 9   The Death of Artemio Cruz, pp.  118-219.

November 14    The Death of Artemio Cruz, pp. 219-272.
November 16   The Death of Artemio Cruz, pp.  272-298.

November 21   The Death of Artemio Cruz, pp. 298-307.
November 23   Finals Study Day, no classes

November 28 The Mexico Reader, “El Santo’s Strange Career,” Anne Rubenstein, pp. 570-578. Deadline:  Autobiographical Essay.
November 30    The Mexico Reader, “Identity Hour,” Carlos Monsiváis, pp. 613-618. .

December 5     Summary of course. 

Final Examination (#4)Blue books and pens (blue or black ink) required. No pencils.
CLS, 2010-03, Friday, December 9, 11:20 a.m.-1:20 p.m.  
CLS, 2010-06, Wednesday, December 7, 1:30 -3:30 p.m. 

Diego Rivera, Paisaje Zapatista, 1915


Diego Rivera, "Carnival of Mexican Life," 1936

Centro Cultural Rosario Castellanos, Chiapas, México

Poetry in Spanish with Mesoamerican themes,
in English translations. 


   Octavio Armand (Cuba, 1946)

Ni al batirse como un sol
contra el avispero de obsidiana.
Ni bajo la luz afilada por los tajos.
No vacila la mano que tiembla
cuando roza la noche.
Es tuya, como la voz
que se adelanta a los nombres
para quedarse un rato más.
Es tuya entre dos pausas,
hasta mancharse de sangre y de palabras.
Acércate. Mírala bien.
¿Cuántas veces, te preguntas,
no arrancaste un corazón vencido?
¿Y cuántas, desgarrado,
no voló como una mariposa
tu propio corazón?
No es verdad que vivimos.
Ni los dioses duran aquí en la tierra.
Pero me has regalado un puñado de sílabas
donde no hablas de ti mismo sino a ti mismo.
En ellas, balbuceantes, leo tus labios.
En ellas, los oigo, respiran un niño y un rey.
Así he podido conocerte.
Eres una ruina que acaba de nacer.
La repetida batalla de dos espejos.
En uno me busco, dices, en otro me borro.
La mano roja y negra.

Caracas, Venezuela, 20 de mayo 2003



Octavio Armand (Cuba, 1946)

Not when in combat like a sun
against a swarm of obsidian wasps.
Nor under the light sharpened by the hacks and thrusts.
The hand that trembles does not hesitate
when it grazes the night.
It is yours, like the voice
that overtakes the names
only to remain a while longer.
It is yours in between dual pauses,
until it is stained with blood and words.
Get closer. Take a good look.
How many times, you ask,
have you removed beaten hearts?
And how often, torn,
your own heart, turned butterfly, has flown away?
It is not true that we live.
The gods themselves do not endure here on earth.
You have offered me a handful of syllables
where you don’t talk about yourself, only to yourself.
There, in the stammer of words, I decipher your lips.
A child and a lord, I hear them breathe in your words,
Only then do I know your heart.
You are a ruin just born.
The recurring battle of two mirrors.
I search for myself in one, you say, and erase myself from the other.
The red and the black in one’s hand.

Translated by Roberto Cantú


The Poetry of Jorge Esquinca
in Translation

Giro de Serpiente

A Carlos Rodal
En el principio era la serpiente—dice la mujer que lee en el libro.  Serpiente cabeza de tormenta, cola de remolino.  El trazo de la serpiente en las gradas del templo, en el pico del águila, en el escudo.  La serpiente en el árbol primero, en el crepúsculo del pedernal y la pirámide.  En el principio colmillo, en el comenzar reptante.  La serpiente anillada en el mástil de las naves, en la empuñadura de la espada—dice que el mismo Cristo la mira en la base de su cruz.  Mira el oro del cáliz.  Mira las víctimas.  La serpiente brota en el seno de la estrella.  Es el cazador y la presa.  Dice, mira las palabras. 

Serpent’s Spiral

A Carlos Rodal
In the beginning was the serpent—so says the woman who reads the book. A serpent with a thunderstorm on its head, its tail a whirlwind. The serpent’s crawl up the pyramid’s steps, on the eagle’s beak, stamped on the seal. The serpent on the first tree, on a twilight of flint and pyramid. A fang as an origin, crawling from its beginning. A serpent coiled on the mast of vessels, on the sword’s handle—she says that Christ himself gazes at it on the foot of his cross.  Looks at the gold in the chalice.  Looks at the victims.  The serpent sprouts from the star’s bosom.  It is the hunter and the prey.  She says, look at the words.           
Translated by Roberto Cantú