20th Century Mexican Literature

20th Century Mexican Literature – Fall 2008


Instructor:             Dr. Brian L. Price (pricebl@wfu.edu)

Course Info:          MWF 11:00 – 11:50 pm

Office:                    550 Greene Hall

Phone:                   758-4572

Office Hours:        MW 2:00 – 3:30


Class Description

Any reading of national literature automatically implies a reading of the aesthetic and historical processes that leads to the development of literary canons. This course studies what I consider to be a representative sample of Mexico’s 20th-century canon. What constitutes canon and how does a text become canonical? To paraphrase one critic’s questions, how do you load a canon? And can you fire a canon? Throughout the semester we will address the specific historical and aesthetic contexts in which these texts appear. Trends will emerge and tensions will become apparent as we read authors who are intimately involved in trying to tease out what role literature plays in national questions. While we will discuss historical context in lectures, the majority of our focus will be on the texts themselves and on the intertextual dialogues that surface as authors revisit certain aesthetic, political, and cultural ideas and problems.


Course Blog

“20th Century Mexican Literature” – www.mexlit.wordpress.com


Class Policies and Grading


Readings and Participation: 10%. Expectations for upper-level seminars are much greater than the 317/318 level. Reading assignments are approximately 40-50 pages per class session. It is expected that you cover all the materials assigned at least once before class. Allow yourself enough time to read and reflect. Last-minute cramming will not suffice.


Blog Entries on Mexican Authors: 15%. All students will be assigned 5 Mexican authors to research and write a 2-page, double-spaced encyclopedia article for each writer. Entries should include biographical information, vital statistics, and bibliographic information for primary and secondary sources. Photos and links to other sites for information (i.e., online interviews, documentaries, or video clips from YouTube) may be included. Also, reflections on the author’s place within Mexican letters are appropriate. These entries will be posted to the course blog (www.mexlit.wordpress.com) and moderated by the professor. Since this information is being broadcast on the web, I ask that you try your best to make the articles as clear, well written, and error free as possible.


Blog Postings and Comments: 10%. Each group will submit 5 reading notes for critical articles and literary texts. These should be posted to the blog and tagged. Notes are due by 5:00 pm the day before class so everyone can read them. Late work will be penalized.


Additionally, in order to generate more dialogue among students about each other’s ideas, all students will respond (in the comment section) to 2 postings per week.


Midterm Exam: 20%. The midterm exam will take place on Wednesday, 15 October. Content 90%, Grammar 10%.


Final Exam: 20%. The final exam will be held on the date set by the university. Please do not ask about taking the final exam at another time unless you have a scheduling conflict. Having three exams on the same day is unfortunate, but it is not a conflict. Content 90%, Grammar 10%.


Final Research Webpage: 25%. Instead of writing the standard research paper, groups of students will collaborate to develop a content based webpage on any topic relating to our readings of Mexican literature, culture, and history. Since this is the first time I am endeavoring to do a project like this, I am relying heavily on work done by other educators, specifically, University of Michigan professor David Porter’s “Eighteenth Century England” project (http://www.umich.edu/~ece/index.html). More details will follow about how we will organize this, but in the meantime, begin thinking about a subject that sparks your imagination and how you might link it to our Mexican texts.


Attendance and Timeliness Policy. My philosophy for attendance and timeliness is fairly straightforward. You are allowed two absences and after that each absence will lower your final grade by 5 percentage points. The tardy policy is similar. You are allowed two tardies and after that each one (or early departure from class) will lower your final grade by 1 percentage point.


Grading Policy According to the WFU Bulletin:

A’s are reserved only for exceptionally high achievement

A-/B+/B are all superior

B-/C+/C are satisfactory

C-/D+/D/D- are passing but unsatisfactory


The grading scale:    

93-100=A, 90-92=A-, 88-9=B+, 83-87=B, 80-82=B-, 78-9=C+, 73-77=C, 70-72=C-, 68-9=D+, 60-67=D, 0-60=F.


Assignment Schedule


Week 1




27 de agosto

Asunto administrativos




29 de agosto


No hay clase


Week 2




1 de septiembre


Lecture: “How to load a canon”

Bloom: Introducción a The Western Canon (1)

Guillory: “Canon” from Critical Terms for Literary Study (2)



3 de septiembre


Reyes: “Notas sobre la inteligencia americana” (3)

5 de septiembre


Lecture: La génesis del nacionalismo literario y el debate de 1925

Muñoz: “Oro, caballo, hombre” (4)



Week 3




8 de septiembre


Torri: “De fusilamientos” de De fusilamientos

Azuela: 1º fragmento de Los de abajo (5)

1º blog entry due



10 de septiembre


Azuela: 2º fragmento de Los de abajo (6)

12 de septiembre


No hay clase



Week 4




15 de septiembre


Lecture: Juan Rulfo “el Zorro”

Rulfo: Pedro Páramo, 65-87. (1)

Testimonies from Arreola, Volpi, Monterroso



17 de septiembre


Rulfo: Pedro Páramo, 88-107. (2)



19 de septiembre



Rulfo: Pedro Páramo, 107-133. (3)


Week 5




22 de septiembre


Rulfo: Pedro Páramo, 133-154. (4)

24 de septiembre


Rulfo: Pedro Páramo, 154-178. (5)



26 de septiembre


Lecture: Arreola, hacia una literatura cosmopolita

Arreola: “El prodigioso miligramo” de Confabulario (6)


Week 6




29 de septiembre

Arreola: “Baby H.P.”, “Anuncio”, “En verdad os digo” de Confabulario (1)

2º blog entry due



1 de octubre


Arreola: “El guardagujas” de Confabulario (2)



3 de octubre


Lecture: Indigenismo dentro del ámbito intelectual

Rojas: “El diosero” de El diosero (3)



Week 7




6 de octubre


Castellanos: “La tregua” de Ciudad Real (1)

8 de octubre


Castellanos: “Los convidados de agosto” de Los convidados de agosto (2)



10 de octubre


Lecture: Carlos Fuentes y el Boom

Fuentes: “Chaac Mool” (3)



Week 8




13 de octubre


Fuentes: “Chaac Mool” (4)



15 de octubre


Midterm Exam


17 de octubre


Fall Break: no hay clase


Week 9




20 de octubre


Lecture: Escritura, metaficción y sociedad

Spires, Beyond the Metafictional Mode (5)

Elizondo: “El grafógrafo”, “Novela conjetural”, Mnemothreptos”… 3º blog entry due.


22 de octubre


Elizondo: “Futuro Imperfecto” (6)



24 de octubre


Lecture: Novela histórica

Menton: “Introducción”, La nueva novela histórica en Latinoamérica (1)

Hutcheon: “Historiographic Metafiction” (2)



Week 10




27 de octubre


Rivera Garza. Nadie me verá llorar, Cap. 1. (3)



29 de octubre


Rivera Garza. Nadie me verá llorar, Cap. 2&3. (4)



31 de octubre


Rivera Garza. Nadie me verá llorar, Cap. 4. (5)



Week 11




3 de noviembre


Rivera Garza. Nadie me verá llorar, Cap. 5&6. (6)



5 de noviembre


Rivera Garza. Nadie me verá llorar. Cap. 7&8 (1)



6 de noviembre


Rivera Garza. Nadie me verá llorar.


Time: TBA

Visita a clase de Cristina Rivera Garza

Presentación de Cristina Rivera Garza


Week 12




10 de noviembre


Lecture: Onda y contracultura frente al Estado

Agustín: “Cuál es la onda” (2)

4º blog entry due



12 de noviembre


Agustín: “Cuál es la onda”



14 de noviembre


Lecture: José Emilio Pacheco y 1968

Pacheco: “El torturador” (3)


Week 13




17 de noviembre


Pacheco: fragmentos de Morirás lejos

19 de noviembre


Lecture: Legitimacy and crisis in the 1980s and 1990s

Price: “Juan Villoro y la crónica nostálgica del rock and roll” (4)

Villoro: fragmentos de Tiempo transcurrido: crónicas  imaginarias



21 de noviembre


Villoro: fragmentos de Tiempo transcurrido: crónicas imaginarias (5)




Week 14





24 de noviembre


Samperio: “Estación fatal”, “Cuando el tacto toma palabra”, “Fuera del ring”, “Tiempo libre” (6)

26 de noviembre




28 de noviembre




Week 15




1 de diciembre


Lecture: Desplazamiento del canon hacia la(s) frontera(s)

Mendoza: “Culiches”

5º blog entry due



3 de diciembre


Crosthwaite: fragmentos de Instrucciones para cruzar la frontera

5 de diciembre




Week 16

12 de diciembre



Examen Final