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SPAN 398: Undergraduate Seminar in Literature and Culture

Fall 2023: The Hunger Artists Of Spain: Food, Famine And Eating Disorders From The Picaresque To The 21st Century

Instructor: Prof. Irene Gómez Castellano

This undergraduate seminar studies the cultural products (films, testimonials, documentaries, graphic novels, photographies, paintings, poems, novels, blogs, and short stories) connected to hunger and famines in Spain, from Roman times to the 21st century. It studies sieges and famines connected to historical events (such as the Spanish Guerra de la Independencia and the Spanish Civil War) and also the cultural products associated with the anticipated hunger of the future in dystopian texts. We will analyze literature connected to the topic of hunger in anorexia testimonials, body positivity blogs, graphic novels and social media posts, as well as classic literary texts and works of art connected to war such as Goya’s Disasters of War. We will study books such as El Lazarillo de Tormes, the Nanas de la cebolla by Miguel Hernández, La plaça del Diamant by Mercè Rodoreda, the short stories of Ana María Matute, horror microfictions by Fernando Iwasaki, and the poetry of Gloria Fuertes, María González and others. We will also read fragments of the memory Quería volar: cuando comer era un infierno by Espido Freire and A dieta de tíos by the Córcoles Sisters (graphic novel), as well as comics by José Escobar and Maitena. We will analyze films such as Luis Buñuel’s mockumentary Las hurdes: Tierra sin pan and El ángel exterminador. We will also focus on the Netflix phenomenon The Platform and other films about survival, cannibalism and dystopian futures connected to ecological collapse. This mosaic will help us to reflect on how the topic of hunger shapes cultural, national and gender identities in the context of Spain and how this knowledge can be seen in relation to hunger in other cultural contexts.

The course will be evaluated by three exams, one blog and one essay.

Prerequisite: SPAN 371 or SPAN 373