HIST-LIT 90FG: Dictatorship and Resistance in Latin America





Instructor: Jennifer Alpert
Meeting time: Monday, 12:45-2:45 pm

Dictatorship and Resistance in Latin AmericaAs we face resurgent authoritarianism around the world, culture remains a critical tool of resistance against the perils of dictatorship and its legacies. Latin America’s long history of tyranny, repression, and impunity reveals that—in national traditions where fiction has often addressed either explicitly or allegorically what journalism did or could not—culture has mediated moments of historical trauma as countries grapple with the consequences of state terrorism and general instability. In this seminar, we will focus on the military dictatorships that swept the Southern Cone in the 1970s and their aftermaths to reflect on the role of cultural resistance in keeping democracy alive and ensuring human rights abuses never happen again. How has fiction represented these dictatorships and their consequences? How has artistic production given expression to protest against state-sponsored violence, considering that authoritarianism often engenders bloody legacies and social divisions? How do representational strategies help a nation work through historical trauma, rebuild its community, reconstruct its identity, and sustain collective memory, given the reigning impunity and lack of justice with which these countries have often contended? We will analyze a broad range of fictional and historical texts that include films, literature, comics, news coverage, testimonies, and speeches and pay particular attention to medium and genre to understand the rhetorical devices surrounding the dictatorship and the aesthetic codes that have surfaced or been repurposed as forms of resistance to ensure history does not repeat itself. In the process, students will develop methods of analysis to answer similar questions in other geographical areas and historical moments.