Questing the Bizarre: Writing, Rewriting, and Un-Writing in Hispanic Literature (SPA4403.01)

Lena Retamoso Urbano

Julio Cortázar, the Argentine writer, is interested in characters, objects, animals, sounds, experiences, circumstances, and places that help him to configure unusual literary worlds. In this course, we will explore the different ways in which his short stories, in dialogue with the works of a wide array of Latin American and Spanish writers/poets such as Augusto Monterroso, Silvina Ocampo, Mario Bellatin, and Luis Cernuda, are fruitful literary territories to explore and go deep(er) into the unsteady aspects of reality. We will also dive into how their creative process of “writing, rewriting, and un-writing” (as Bellatin observes,) invites the reader to not only have an active role by engaging (pleasurably and critically) with the dynamics of the text but also by becoming potential writers/poets/artists through their interactive dialogue with the literary pieces. The focus of the course is on student-generated discussion, and critical thinking about this literary representation; however, 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 will examine grammatical and linguistic questions as they arise during our discussions. This course will also provide contextual support for future studies in Spanish, as well as other fields.

Learning Outcomes:
1) Gain a basic understanding of alternative ways to build literary worlds by Latin American and Spanish writers and poets.
2) Gain confidence in their ability to speak, read and write in Spanish about the topic of the bizarre in Latin American and Spanish short stories and poems.
3) Develop critical thinking and analytical skills through discussions of a wide array of literary texts that explore unusual topics.
4) Design an academic and/or creative project associated with bizarre short stories and/or poems coming from Latin American and Spanish authors.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: 3 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 cultural studies and language events.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 1:40PM - 3:30PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: One time only

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