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SPAN 572 - FALL 2020
Image of baroque painting monks and scholars

An overview of critical theories for the analysis of literary and cultural texts since the mid-20th century, including Spanish, Latin American, Luso-Brazilian, and U.S. Latinx schools of thought.

On one level, this seminar functions as a presentational overview of major critical theories and schools of thought for the analysis of literary and cultural texts since the mid-20th century. Yet, on another level, the goal of this seminar is to bring these theoretical texts into conversation with Spanish, Latin American, Luso-Brazilian, and U.S. Latinx critical theories. That is, this seminar seeks to bring together seemingly disparate or contradictory texts in ways that challenge, redefine, and reconceptualize what is “theory.” While each week is structured around a theoretical text by canonical thinkers—or what this seminar will describe as “high theory”—over the course of the semester, we will examine how these theories can be problematized and extended by the critics who engage their works. We will be asked to read these theories against the grain, in search of new possibilities that might emerge or make themselves knowable through our critical inquiries. This seminar centralizes hemispheric Latin American thinkers, their writing and philosophies, necessarily including the Caribbean and U.S. Latinx contexts. By the end of the semester, we will examine texts that seemingly do not present themselves as theory, because they cannot be wholly classified as “high theory”—or perhaps, as we might see, they resist those taxonomies. From these areas of “low theory,” or “minoritarian thought,” we might be able to rethink what is a text, what is theory, and how knowledge production is structured and designed by the canon in which these writers and thinkers reject. As such, we will sit with the themes of colonialism and postcolonialism, critical race studies, border theory, queerness, and the body as its own source of writing philosophy. While texts are assigned in English and the instructor will facilitate close readings of the philosophical contexts in English, students are welcome to contribute to seminar discussions and debates in their respective English, Spanish, and Portuguese.


SPAN 572: Theory and Literary Criticism

“Philosophical Conversations with Hispanism Between Colonialism and Postcolonialism”

Meets with LLS 596

3:00-5:50PM, Monday, Room 133, 1207 W. Oregon, Urbana