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2020/21 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SPPO3035 From Bolívar to Chávez: Revolutionary Icons in Contemporary Latin American Culture

20 creditsClass Size: 20

Module manager: Rebecca Jarman

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

‘From Bolívar to Chávez: Revolutionary Icons in Contemporary Latin American Culture’ explores representations of revolutionary figures in film, visual art and literature, with a view to addressing questions of radical politics, social change and historical upheavals in Latin America from the nineteenth century until the present. Using the lens of cultural studies, this module examines the lives, ideas and legacies of notable political leaders - including Simón Bolívar, Eva Perón, Che Guevara, and Hugo Chávez, among others – while deconstructing their representation in Latin American cultural production. A desire for revolution has informed a range of political movements across the ideological spectrum in Latin America, such as independence from Spain, Cuban communism, Argentine populism, armed struggles in the Andes and the Pink Wave of socialist governments. These specific case studies are designed to foment the analysis of revolution in a decolonial context, taking account of the history of imperial domination and exploitation in the region. Students will also be called on to reflect how the icons’ heritage plays out on the political platforms of today, especially in communicating the different, and often contradictory, ideals attached to the concept of revolution. The primary sources and the authors included on this module are intentionally diverse. By addressing issues of class, race, ethnicity, nationality and gender, these texts prompt discussion about the identities of revolutionary actors, and the identities of those who narrate revolution as history. There is also a variety in the forms of cultural production considered. For example, students will examine canonical novels alongside the autobiographies of revolutionary actors, and will consider fictional feature-length films alongside factual documentaries. This will enable an in-depth evaluation of the politics of contemporary Latin American culture and the cultural dimension of Latin American politics. Students should note that some sensitive topics will be discussed on this module that include slavery, warfare, death, and violence. Please contact the module leader for further information.


On completion of this module, students should:
1. Have displayed the aptitude and confidence to work in the preparation and presentation of an icon, text, or political movement
2. Have developed their analytical skills while examining and comparing primary sources placed in historical context
3. Be able to demonstrate capacity for critical thought and the skills necessary to exercise this in sustained debate in lectures and seminars
4. Be able to produce a sophisticated and well-organised comparative essay, using knowledge acquired in class and through independent reading, and addressing issues with reference to their specific contexts
5. Be able to draw evidence from a wide range of sources in support of a clear, well-structured and convincing argument

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should:
1. Be familiar with the theoretical meanings of revolution and its historic importance across different regions of Latin America, while distinguishing between revolution in theory and in practice
2. Be familiar with the way images and icons can acquire different meanings in popular Latin American culture, while dealing critically with the ideological agendas of artists, directors and authors
3. Be able to describe and analyse different periods of socio-political development in history and culture with reference to key case studies
4. Be able to analyse historical and cultural texts against the grain of their accepted or pre-determined significance
5. Be sensitive to the links between political identities, spectacles, and power, and how these are relevant in twenty-first century Latin America

Skills outcomes
Specific skills include the ability:
1) To read and understand historical and literary texts in Spanish.


The syllabus for this module typically includes the following elements:
(Week 1) Introduction: Aims, Methodology
(Week 2) Informal Presentations
(Week 3) Toussaint Louverture (Haiti)
(Week 4) El reino de este mundo, Alejo Carpentier (1949) [novel]
(Week 5) Simón Bolívar (Venezuela)
(Week 6) Bolívar soy yo, Jorge Alí Triana (2002) [film]
(Week 8) José Martí (Cuba)
(Week 9) El ojo del canario, Fernando Pérez (2010) [film]
(Week 10) Pancho Villa (Mexico)
(Week 11) Cartucho, Nellie Campobello (1932) [novel]
(Week 15) Eva Perón (Argentina)
(Week 16) Santa Evita, Tomás Eloy Martínez (1995) [novel]
(Week 17) Che Guevara (Cuba)
(Week 18) Diarios de motocicleta, Walter Salles (2004) [film]
(Week 19) Rigoberta Menchú (Guatemala)
(Week 20) Me llamo Rigoberta…, Rigoberta Menchú (1983) [autobiography]
(Week 21) Abimael Guzmán (Peru)
(Week 22) Memorias de un soldado desconocido, Lurgio Gavilán Sánchez (2014) [autobiography]
(Week 23) Hugo Chávez (Venezuela)
(Week 24) Pelo malo, Mariana Rondón (2014) [film]

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- Reading course materials/preparation for seminars: 60 hours
- Preparation and writing of essay: 50 hours
- Preparation of podcast (including workshop attendance): 70

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Fortnightly homework and tutor feedback offered orally, both in seminars and in feedback and advice hours.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay or Dissertation2,500 words40.00
PresentationPre-recorded presentation (e.g. podcast, mini documentary, narrated PowerPoint)60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Students resitting the pre-recorded presentation will be required to complete a 2000-word written piece of work instead.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 10/08/2020 08:46:51


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