Lecturas Claves

Students in the English department wishing to study Latin American literature in translation for their PhD are allowed to write their own reading lists and not required to take coursework. As a scholar I disagree with this policy. But as an American I find that we should read texts from other countries – as long as we are not simply committing one more act of cultural appropriation.

After my most recent adventure I am making a required list to which students may add, but from which they may not subtract. It is to be representative and limited, but deep, and there will be required critical readings as well. Everything must be available in a good translation. I am starting with Independence.  Please comment.

REQUIRED PRIMARY [stating list]. Yes, it has no ‘boom’ novels or ‘post-boom’ ones. It is very canonical and does not include a great many texts by women or racial ‘others.’ It neglects theatre. This is a list to add to.

Bolívar, Simón. Message to the Congress of Angostura
Sarmiento, Domingo Faustino. Facundo
Matto de Turner, Clorinda. Torn From the Nest
Martí, José
. Our America
Darío, Rubén. To Roosevelt
Rodó, José Enrique. Ariel
Azuela, Mariano, MACUNAIMA, M. de Andrade, MACUNAIMA, J.E. Rivera, THE VORTEX, or another novel from this period
Huidobro, Vicente. Altazor
Vallejo, César. Spain, Take This Cup from Me
Borges, Jorge Luis. Labyrinths
Rulfo, Juan. Pedro Páramo
Carpentier, EXPLOSION IN A CATHEDRAL, Castellanos, THE NINE GUARDIANS or Cortázar, HOPSCOTCH, and one other novel from this period
Morejón, Nancy. Black Woman
At least one additional text

REQUIRED SECONDARY [starting list]

Doris Sommer, Foundational Fictions
Silviano Santiago, The Space In Between: Essays on Latin American Culture
Julio Ramos, Divergent Modernities
Angel Rama, The Lettered City
Roberto Fernández Retamar, Caliban
Octavio Paz, The Bow and the Lyre
Enrique Dussel, The Invention of the Americas


Eduardo Galeano, The Open Veins of Latin America
Tulio Halperín, The Contemporary History of Latin America


Andres Bello – Renato Ortiz – Beatriz Sarlo
Roberto Schwarz, Misplaced Ideas: Essays on Brazilian Culture


Fernando Ortiz, Cuban Counterpoint: Tobacco and Sugar
Clarice Lispector…


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3 Responses to Lecturas Claves

  1. profacero says:

    From my cross post … here:
    RECOMMENDED ADDITIONS [starting list]

    M. de Andrade, MACUNAIMA*
    Arguedas, anything but YAWAR FIESTA and THE STORYTELLER**
    Alejo Carpentier, Explosion in a Cathedral***
    Rosario Castellanos, The Nine Guardians

    Put also Renato Ortiz
    Julio Cortázar, Hopscotch****
    Clarice Lispector*
    Cesar Vallejo, The Complete Poetry, trans. Eshleman
    Fernando Ortiz

    *Yes, I am including Brazilian texts.
    **Because not everything is “folklore.”|
    ***Because not everything is “magic realism.”
    ****Because I will not let anyone just read “Las babas del diablo.”

  2. profacero says:

    I’ve also got a version of this post at my other site, that I’ve worked on more and that has comments.

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