Spring 2021

21L.512 American Authors: Weird Americas Joaquín Terrones MW 1:00-2:30p Virtual

Prereq: One subject in Literature, permission of instructor
3-0-9 HASS-H; Can be repeated for credit
Topics: Film, Media, and Popular Culture, Gender and Ethnic Studies, Genre and Mode, Romanticism and Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century and Contemporary Culture

Christopher Columbus’s initial description of the Americas featured rivers of gold and man-eating monsters. From the moment colonists and conquistadors first encountered its endless frontiers, abundant nature, and alien cultures, the New World has often stood as otherworldly counterpart to European worldliness. This course will examine how contemporary North and Latin American authors have reflected on race, gender, sexuality, and national identity through horror, magical realism, Afrofuturism, and science fiction. Our first unit will consider hauntings and ghosts stories as attempts to make sense of the hemisphere’s violent past. In the second, we will explore divergent worlds, geographies, and timelines that reimagine otherness and cultural plurality. The final unit will study genetic and cybernetic splicings that blur the carefully guarded lines between man, animal, and machine. Some of the texts we will read include Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved, as well as short stories by J.L. Borges, H.P. Lovecraft, and Samuel Delany. We will also analyze the Brazilian graphic novel Daytripper, the television series Orphan Black and Watchmen, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther film, Beyoncé’s Black Is King visual album, and Janelle Monáe’s Metropolis series.