Priscilla Meléndez, from Puerto Rico, received her Ph.D. in Contemporary Latin American Literature from Cornell University in 1985. She has taught at Michigan State, Penn State, Yale, and currently teaches at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. Her research has centered mainly on works of Spanish American theater by the Mexicans Emilio Carballido, Vicente Leñero, Sabina Berman, and Hugo Salcedo, the Argentinians Osvaldo Dragún, Griselda Gambaro, and Eduardo Rovner, and Caribbean playwrights such as Luis Rafael Sánchez and José Triana. She has also written on the theater of Mario Vargas Llosa and on García Márquez's play Diatriba de amor contra un hombre sentado. She is the author of two books: La dramaturgia hispanoamericana contemporánea: teatralidad y autoconciencia (1990) and The Politics of Farce in Contemporary Spanish American Theater (2006). Meléndez has served as drama juror in the Letras de Oro contest and in the 2007 Premio Teatral George Woodyard. In the area of Spanish American narrative, she has published essays on the Chilean José Donoso and the Mexican Rosario Castellanos. Her essays have appeared in Hispanic Review, Symposium, Latin American Theatre Review, Gestos, Modern Language Notes, Revista de Estudios Hispánicos (Washington U.), Latin American Literary Review, Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos, and Modern Drama.
Courses offered in the past four years.
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▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
SPAN3431 - Hispanic Cult through Theater
Politics and History in Contemporary Latin American Theatre
This course will offer a panoramic view of Latin American theatre of the twentieth and twenty first centuries in the light of two interdependent discourses: the role played by politics in Latin American theatre, and its persistent interest in documenting historical events as a mechanism to simultaneously speak about the political past and its present. The intention is to explore how, through theatre, the representation of historical events has shed light on the present political conditions of Latin America.
The playwrights and plays will be chosen from the following list: Rodolfo Usigli’s Corona de sombra (México); Vicente Leñero’s El juicio (México); Luis Rafael Sánchez’ La pasión según Antígona Pérez (Puerto Rico); Rascón Banda’s Todos somos Marcos (México); Griselda Gambaro’s El campo (Argentina); José Triana’s La noche de los asesinos (Cuba); Alberto Pedro’s Mar nuestro (Cuba); Sabina Berman’s Aguila o sol (México); Eduardo Rovner’s Cuarteto (Argentina); and the Grupo Yuyachkani (Perú).
Summer 2016 Language Schools
SPAN3440 - 20C Latin American Revolutions
20th Century Latin America Revolutions: Literature and the Arts (Mexican Muralism, Cuban Film and Nicaraguan Poetry)
Since the early part of the nineteenth-century and marked by the Wars of Independence, Latin America has experienced a great deal of political turmoil. It is generally accepted that independence from Spain did not represent for the new nations a radical change in social and political institutions. Therefore, it was not until the twentieth century, and in some cases influenced by crucial events in the political sphere such as the advance of socialist and communist ideologies, that many Latin American countries looked inward and attempted to make radical changes in their colonial and neocolonial institutions. This is the case of the 1910 Mexican Revolution against the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz and his plan of modernization that mostly benefited the wealthy and continued to suppress the mestizo and indigenous population. Almost fifty years later, and in a Caribbean island, another extremely important and radical political event took place: the Cuban Revolution of 1959. The outcry against governmental corruption, social injustice and racism, foreign political and economic intervention in the daily affairs of Cuba, among others reasons, led to the formation of a guerrilla movement which eventually reached power and later established a communist government which has lasted until the present. The still current tensions between Cuba and the United States and the challenges to resolve them, attest to the complexity and repercussions of this revolution that began 56 years ago. [NOTE: On July 20, 2015, the US reopened its Embassy in Cuba after its closure in 1961.] During the 1970s and 1980s, and in an economically marginalized region, Central America, other revolutionary movements emerged. But it was the 1979 Nicaraguan Revolution with its socialist agenda that received international attention.
Beyond the possible successes and failures that these three crucial events had in the history of both their respective countries and of Latin America, this course will explore the extremely productive artistic environment that emerged as a direct and indirect consequence of these political uprisings. The new political language created by the radical changes, the innovative interpretation of reality, and the repositioning and prevalence of social and socialist discourses, transformed the language of art and allowed new voices –in some cases marginal ones— to engage in a dynamic process of artistic representation. In the case of the Mexico and before moving into the second and third decades of the 20th century we will discuss the short novel Los de abajo (1915) as a means to introduce us to the revolutionary world. We will then examine the relationship between revolution and the visual arts, concentrating primarily on the famous Muralist movement (Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco). In the second case, and among the extraordinary artistic production that came out of postrevolutionary Cuba, this course will emphasize film: Lucía (1968) by Humberto Solás, Memories of Underdevelopment (1968), and Strawberry and Chocolate (1993) by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío. We will end this segment with the discussion of the short novel Máscaras (1997) by Leonardo Padura Fuentes. Finally, we will engage in the study of revolutionary poetry as it emerges particularly in Nicaragua, by poets such as Ernesto Cardenal and Gioconda Belli.
The coordinated study of cultural, artistic and political aspects in Latin America should offer the student a strong notion of the interdependence and fruitful interaction among various forms of discourse, and how radical political changes interact with the exploration of more subjective languages and artistic interpretations of reality.
Summer 2016 Language Schools
SPAN6560 - Literary & Film Analysis
Literary and Film Analysis
This course will introduce the graduate student to the techniques of literary and film analysis, critical thinking, reading, and interpreting Hispanic literary texts. It is divided into four segments, each of which is devoted to the analytic strategies pertinent to one major genre: narrative, poetry, drama, and cinema. Each student will write several papers and actively participate in class discussions. (1 unit)
Required texts: Antonio Sobejano-Morán, Tornasol (Panda Publications, newest edition); Mariano Azuela, Los de abajo (Madrid: Catedra, newest edition).
- Antonio Sobejano-Morán, Tornasol (Panda Publications, newest edition)
- Mariano Azuela, Los de abajo (Fondo de Cultura) (ISBN97896816003205). Literature
Summer 2013, Summer 2014 Language Schools, Summer 2015 Language Schools
SPAN6630 - Migration & Exile Contemp Thea
Migration and Exile in Contemporary Spanish American Theater
This course will examine Spanish American plays from both the 20th-and 21st-centuries that explore the topic of migration in thematic and symbolic terms. We will study the various manifestations of migration—immigration, emigration, exile, and return—as each of them are connected to social, political, economic, psychological, linguistic, and physical realities. The movement of peoples and communities from one continent, country, or region to another has become a frequent occurrence, and playwrights have seen, interpreted, and staged the drama and instability behind this uprooting. The goal is to study Spanish American plays from countries and regions that have experience significant amounts of internal and external migration, as well as countries that have experienced massive emigration. The course will be divided in both regions and topics:
Argentina: Displacement and disappearance; Mexico/U.S. Borderlands; The Caribbean: “Sailing” Away; Pilgrimage and Memory: The Andean Region.
Some of the playwrights to be studied include Roberto Cossa (Argentina); Arístides Vargas (Argentina/Ecuador); René Marqués (Puerto Rico); Sabina Berman (México); Grupo Yuyachkani (Perú); Hugo Salcedo (México), and Jorge Díaz (Chile). (1 unit)
- Rene Marques, La carreta: Drama en tres actos (Editorial Cultural, 1983 or most recent edition) (ISBN-10: 8428306737 ISBN-13: 978-84206737);
- Las fronteras miticas del teatro mexicano (Editor: Stuart Day LATR Books, University of Kansas) (ISBN 978-1-61539-743-3). Literature
Summer 2013, Summer 2014 Language Schools