Surrealism in Latin America: Origins and Reception (SPA4505.01)

Lena Retamoso Urbano

What do we mean when we talk about a “surreal experience”? Which historic, cultural, and literary implications are behind this colloquial expression? How did (and does) Surrealism manifest in Modern Latin American artistic expressions, and how is that manifestation connected to Pre-Columbian cosmology? In this course, we will study the premises of the French surrealist manifesto, examining its relationship with the Pre-Columbian art and culture, as well as with the technological upheavals and global impact of World War I. Then, we will study Latin American Surrealists; their practice and production, and their ongoing impact on contemporary Latin American poetry and art. Finally, we will start to trace the communicating vessels that potentially unify a Latin American identity that is in a constant transformation and reformulation of itself. To this end, we will divide the course into two parts: In the first, we will go over a wide array of theoretical texts related to Surrealism and Pre-Columbian cosmology (Mary Ann Caws, Melanie Nicholson, George Bataille, and Keith Jordan). In the second part, building on those theories, we will examine a diverse of surrealist cultural products-poems, paintings, photographs, journals, and multidisciplinary works. The focus of the class will be on student-generated discussions and critical thinking about texts and concepts, and students will debate their own perspectives, both in conversation and in writing, thus developing analytical and linguistic skills. Surrealist approaches and surrealist learning methodologies will also come across, and students will have the opportunity to create surrealist pieces. Intermediate-High Level. In Spanish.

Learning Outcomes:
1) Gain a well-informed understanding of the artistic particularities of Surrealism in Latin America.
2) Gain confidence in the ability to speak, read and write in Spanish about surrealist pieces.
3) Develop critical thinking and analytical skills through discussions of multidisciplinary texts as well as close textual analysis.
4) Design an academic and/or creative project associated with surrealist art in Latin American.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Email Sarah Harris ( to express interest.
Corequisites: Attendance at 2 Language Series events
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 1:40PM - 3:30PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 18
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: All courses , Fully In-Person , Spanish , Updates