The Power of Image (SPA4305.01)

Lena Retamoso Urbano

The Mexican photographers, Manuel Álvarez Bravo and Graciela Iturbide, and the Chilean documentary film director, Patricio Guzmán, have a common call: to document the impossible. In this course, we will explore the different ways in which each of these artists use images to capture and re-frame the complexity of their cultural heritage, as well as the beauty and intricacies of their daily lives and surroundings, and, in the case of Guzmán, the search for the remains of “disappeared” loved ones. By doing so, we will also dive into how their works raise awareness about the role of aesthetics in helping memory to retell its multiple and meaningful stories in the most vivid, creative, and imperishable manner. The focus of the course is on student-generated discussion, and critical thinking about these media, but continual practice in all four major areas of language (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) is essential. Students will develop their oral and written skills, progressing to a defense of ideas. We examine grammatical and linguistic questions as they arise naturally in the classroom. This course should also provide contextual support for future studies in Spanish, not to mention other fields. Low-intermediate. In Spanish.

Learning Outcomes:
1) Gain a basic understanding of the most relevant cultural, social, historic, and artistic aspects of Latin America that have been portrayed visually from the late 20’s to the present.
2) Gain confidence in their ability to speak, read and write in Spanish about photographs and documentaries.
3) Develop critical thinking and analytical skills through discussions of visual texts.
4) Design an academic and/or creative project associated with photographs and documentaries from Latin America.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: 2 terms of Spanish at Bennington or taking a brief oral and/or written test to evaluate proficiency. Email Lena Retamoso Urbano ( to express interest.
Corequisites: Attendance at 2 Language Series events and Spanish Tables (2 sessions).
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 10:00AM - 11:50AM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 12
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: 4000 , All courses , Four Credit , Fully In-Person , Spanish