Seton Hall University
Honors Program-Department of Modern Languages
Spring 1999


Diana Alvarez-Amell Honors 3197-                                        Spanish Seminar 5393
Office: Fahy 227                                                                 Literature and History
Phone Extension: 5849

Course Description

This is a special topics course offered by the Honors Program in conjunction with the Department of Modern Languages. In this course, literature from Mexico, Spain and Cuba in English translation is going to be read. Its focus is literature and other artistic forms that deal with specific historical events in the twentieth century: the Mexican Revolution, the Spanish Civil War and the Cuban Revolution. These historical events have been turning points in these countries as, indeed, in this century. The purpose of this course is to give an overview on the literary and artistic representations of these events. In the three instances, readings have been assigned from the literature that was written close to the times of these historical events and then what can be called the "revisionist" literature, written several decades afterwards. The larger issue to be addressed is the problem of the relationship between art and history especially in times of crises.


This is not a history course, although it does suppose a challenge for the student, from a cultural point of view, insofar as it will require that the student be familiar with the historical events and understand the specificity of each country. The course hopefully will be an inquiry as to the relationship between culture and history. While this is a broad formulation, that is, the relationship between art and society, critical historical moments highlight the role of literature in a society. In this course, we shall address the problem through the critical readings of the literary text and other cultural productions.


2 exams 30%
1 final exam 20%
*1 long paper 30%
Discussion Groups 10%
Attendance 10%

*The final long paper (10 pages long) is to be done in two stages. The student chooses a topic of research of her or his interest in consultation with the instructor and presents a rough working draft (5 pages) as a midterm on March 17. The final version is due the last day of class in May. The Final Exam is May 17, 8:45-10:25 AM.


Arenas, Reinaldo. Old Rosa. Trans. Slater, Ann Tashi and Andrew Hurley. NY: Grove P, 1989.
Azuela, Mariano. The Underdogs. Trans. Frederick H. Fornoff. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 1992.

Carpentier, Alejo. The Chase. Trans. Alfred Mac Adams. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1989.

Cela, Camilo José. The Family of Pascual Duarte. Trans. Anthony Kerrigan. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1964.

Fuentes, Carlos. The Death of Artemio Cruz. Trans. Alfred Mac Adam. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1991.

(In Photocopies)


Hernández, Miguel and Federico García Lorca. (Spain); César Vallejo.

Guillén, Nicolás and Heberto Padilla. (Cuba)


Kant and Burke

Octavio Paz (Mexico); Guillermo Cabrera Infante (Cuba)


Mexican Muralists

Picasso (Spain)

Cuban Contemporary Artist: Arturo Cuenca

Documentaries and Films:

"Art and Revolution" Octavio Paz (Mexico)

"Carmela" Dir. Carlos Saura and Documentary on the Spanish Civil War

"Guantanamera" Dir. Tomás Gutierrez Alea (Cuba)

Books on Reserve:

Guzmán, Martín Luis. The Eagle and the Serpent. Trans. Harriet de Onís. Gloucester: Peter Smith, 1969

Riding, Alan. Distant Neighbors. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985.

Thomas, Hugh. Cuba. The Pursuit of Freedom. NY: Harper & Row, 1971.

Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. NY: Harper & Brothers, 1961.


First Week The Ideological Debate: Kant and Burke

(Jan. 25-27)

Second Week "Art and Revolution in Mexico" (documentary)

(Feb. 1-3)

Third Week Azuela. The Underdogs.

(Feb. 8-10)

Fourth Week The Death of Artemio Cruz

(Feb. 16-17)

Fifth Week " "

(Feb. 22-24)

Sixth Week Mexican Art and First Exam

(March 1-3)

*Spring Break

Sixth Week Documentary on the Spanish Civil War

(March 15-17)

Seventh Week The Family of Pascual Duarte

(March 22-24)

Eight Week " " "

(March 29-31)

Ninth Week Picasso; "Guernica"

(April 7) Poems of Vallejo, Hernández and García Lorca

Tenth Week "Carmela". Carlos Saura

(April 12-14) Second Exam.

Eleventh Week The Chase

(April 19-21)

Twelfth Week Arenas. Old Rosa.

(April 26-28)

Thirteenth Week Poems: Nicolás Guillén and Heberto Padilla

(May 3-7) "Guantanamera"

Fourteenth Week Essay, Cabrera Infante

(May 10-12) Art (Cuenca)