LS/CU 331 - Drugs & Violence in Latin American Literature and Arts

Latin American intellectual culture has been famously described as a garrison of sorts, in which intellectuals built a whole worldview while warding off everything that seemed to threaten their authority and prestige. The binary opposition civilization/barbarism is probably the most well known expression of this cultural construction, which had concrete material effects in terms of power structures, cultural hierarchies and social exclusion. Some critics defined this cultural construction as the “lettered city”, an alleged ivory tower, which was from the very start haunted by the forces it, was meant to cast off. However, it wasn’t until the beginning of the XXth century that this ideological construct showed its first serious cracks, allowing critics and historians to speak of a “fall of the lettered city”. In this course we will study two specific forces at work in this epochal collapse. On the one hand, we will explore the occurrences of political and social violence that put into question the illusion of intellectual civility that dominated XIXth century literature and the arts. How do literary texts, art pieces and films respond to political and social violence? Can we register the ways in which violence shapes and changes artistic and literary interventions? On the other hand we will study the way drugs and the narco-machine that makes them available boost the literary and artistic imagination. How have artists and writers portrayed this contemporary condition? Have narco-narratives and drug-related pieces enhanced our ability to understand this phenomenon?

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Cultural Studies
Latin American Studies

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