Carnegie Mellon University

Studies in Latin American Literature & Culture

Course Number: 82-451

SPRING 2024: Contemporary Central America, Here and There

The Central American Isthmus, encompassing seven different countries with diverse histories, languages and cultures, is often reduced to misconceptions and over-generalizations as merely a site of extreme violence and/or a tropical paradise. In this course we will consider the complexities of regional, national and more local dynamics through an examination of cultural artifacts (literary and visual arts such as performance, poetry, music, painting etc.) as they respond to current sociopolitical conditions. What do the countries of Central America share in terms of a common history and contemporary issues, and how do they differ? What does it mean to be Central American? Can we speak of a common regional identity, or even national identities?

Our course will be divided into a series of modules according to themes, and we will interrogate the theme in each country and across borders to gain a richer perspective on the region as a whole, as we deepen our understandings of the seven countries through their cultural production. We will closely examine: representations of ethnicity and racial identities; gender and sexuality; environmental justice; urbanization; memory and human rights. We will end our course with a unit on the Central American diaspora, particularly as it relates back the themes in our previous sections, considering the linkages between environmental, economic and sociopolitical factors in out-migration from certain countries, or conversely, their roles in shaping conditions in receiver countries. This course will be taught entirely in Spanish.

View the Schedule of Classes for more details

Units: 9
Prerequisite(s): 82345