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The University of Southampton

SPAN3012 Sex, Soap Operas and Female Dissidents: Representations of Women in the Hispanic World

Module Overview

This course will introduce you to a range of examples of Spanish American (e.g. Puerto Rican, Argentinean, and Mexican [American]) and Iberian cultural production from the period of the 1980s to the 21st century, in order to provide a sense of the variety of production in this period. The module will examine various examples of cultural production by/on women in order to explore representations of female sexuality, gender and the body. Debates surrounding identity, race and gender within a political and historical context will be examined, and the ways in which these have influenced female writers, film directors and artists. Some of these writers and artists seek to give voice to silenced experiences of women and to explore alternative articulations of identity in response to a climate of terror, oppression or violence. In order to determine their usefulness as instruments of cultural and political resistance, various texts will be placed within a broader theoretical context, particularly within the framework of the contemporary Postmodern/Postcolonial/Western/ (Post)feminist and Latin American feminist (literary) debate and within a broader Gender/Cultural Studies context. Connections will also be made between selected literary texts and examples from the visual arts, performance art, multimedia, photography, music, film, and soap operas. These texts will be examined in the light of relevant works of criticism, providing you with an understanding of the hybrid images of identity and female sexuality

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • A variety of Iberian and Spanish American forms of cultural production (music, soap operas, literature, film, photography) produced from the 1980s to the present
  • The relationship between cultural production and its social/political context in the context of censorship and modernization
  • The ways in which cultural production reinforces or deconstructs gender and national identities
  • The representation of sexuality, identity, race, gender (roles), oppression and transgression
  • The connection between globalization, transnationalism, consumerism and the expression of identity/representation of women in cultural production
  • Key aspects within Postmodern/Postcolonial/Western/ (Post)feminist and Latin American feminist (literary) theory and within a broader Gender/Cultural Studies debates/ context
Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Develop own detailed, critical analysis of cultural production
  • Develop a sustained critical argument in writing, drawing on appropriate evidence
  • Critically evaluate own interpretive skills and those of others
  • Apply the insights of existing critical studies to your own readings of specific cultural products (music, soap operas, literature, film, performance art, photography)
  • Develop understanding of the ways in which political and historical context affects cultural production
  • Think critically about the representation of gender identities and (trans) national identities
  • Use information technology through the use of Web-based resources in order to submit high-quality word-processed essays and power-point based presentations
  • Carry out presentations which will help student to develop your capacity for teamwork and communication skills
  • Identity and apply the insights of relevant critical and theoretical texts
  • Develop your own ideas when dealing with works
  • Play an active part in group discussion


Central issues will be: i) The role of Postmodern feminist and Latin American feminist (literary) debate ii) representations of sexuality, gender roles, transgression iii) The heritage of political and social repression, censorship and oppression (e.g. Spain, Mexico, Argentina) iv) the impact of democracy and belated/accelerated modernization from the 1960s in e.g. Spain, particularly for the representation of sexuality and gender roles v) iconographies of ‘latinoness’ and globalization in the context of e.g. Puerto Rican music vi) Hybrid identities in the context of Puerto-Rican and Chicano transcultural/border (lesbian) identities vii) Reception of cultural production

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The lectures will relate the cultural products to their specific Spanish and Spanish American historical context, and will introduce you to key critical and theoretical debates. You will be encouraged to assess these debates critically, and will be provided with lecture summaries indicating key points for further study and reflection. The lectures will invite you to think about specific issues covered and you will be asked to think further about these issues in your own independent study time. Through class presentations, and guided debates, you will develop communication, problem solving and team working skills. You will develop research skills and methodologies by using library and internet resources. The seminar classes will provide you with an opportunity to discuss, in a group, the issues raised in the lectures which will also give you a chance to evaluate cultural production using various theoretical frameworks. The first written assignment (an essay) will assess your ability to construct and develop a sustained argument, drawing on appropriate evidence, and applying insights gained from independent reading of existing critical studies and of relevant feminist theory. The second written assignment (critical analysis) will assess your ability to critically evaluate an excerpt from a text. The third assignment (presentation) will test your capacity for teamwork and allow you to demonstrate interpersonal skills by working with other students, by problem solving, information gathering and presenting findings collaboratively. Teaching methods include: • Lectures • Seminars (including compulsory student presentations and group discussion) Learning activities include: • Close reading and analysis of varied forms of cultural expression • Debating in class theoretical issues and differing interpretations of the texts • Constructing arguments for presentation orally and in written work • Independent research and study

Independent Study125
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Pornography and censorhip.

Laura Esquivel (1985). Como agua para chocolate. 

Online Resource.

Feminism and Globalization.

Butler, Judith (2004). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990) and Undoing Gender. 

Anzaldúa, Gloria (1987). Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. 

Mosquita y Mari (2012). Aurora Guerrero. 

Rosalind Gill, ‘Postfeminist media culture: elements of a sensibility’’.

For resources which are required or considered useful for the module: key texts, text books, data books, software, web sites, other sources of related information.. 

(2011). Feminism and Media in the Post-Feminist Era. Feminist Media Studies. ,11 .

Frances R. Aparicio and Susana Chávez-Silverman, eds (1997). Tropicalizations: Transcultural Representation of Latinidad.. 

Chávez-Silverman, S. and Hernández, L. (eds.) (2000). Reading and Writing the Ambiente: Queer Sexualities in Latino, Latin American, and Spanish Culture. 

Wittig, Monique (1986). The Lesbian Body. 

Medeiros-Lichem, Maria Teresa (2002). Reading the Feminine Voice in Latin American Women's Fiction. 

Dir Helena Taberna (2000). Yoyes. 

Postmodern Feminism.

Williamson, D (1999). ), ‘Language and Sexual Difference’, in The Sexual Subject: A Screen Reader in Sexuality. 

Ana Clavel (2000). Cuerpo náufrago. 

Online resource.

Online resource.

Diverse Latina Icons (e.g. Vergara) + Puerto Rican Hip Hop + Angie Martínez (Puerto Rico) (examples on CD will be made available). 

Baumgardner, J., & Richards, A. (2004). “Feminism and femininity: Or how we learned to stop worrying and love the thong.” In A. Harris and M. Fine (Eds.), All About the Girl, pp. 59-69. 

Castillo, Debra (1992). Talking Back. Toward a Latin American Feminist Literary Criticism. 

Tong, Rosemarie (1989). Feminist Thought: a Comprehensive Introduction. 

Jess Butler on McRobbie: Review.

Castillo, Debra (1992). Talking Back. Toward a Latin American Feminist Literary Criticism. 

Howson, Alexandra (2004). The Body in Society : an Introduction. 

Peter Barry (1995). 'Feminist Criticism’ and ‘Lesbian/gay criticism’, in Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. 

McRobbie, Angela (2007). Post Feminism and Popular Culture: Bridget Jones and the New Gender Regime. In: Diane Negra and Yvonne Tasker, eds. Interrogating Postfeminism: Gender and the Politics of Popular Culture. Duke University Press, pp. 27-39. 

Shaw, Debra (2017). Transnational Cinemas: Mapping a field of study’- for the Routledge Companion to World Cinema, edited by Rob Stone, Paul Cooke, Stephanie Dennison & Alex Marlow-Mann. 

Chaudhuri, Shohini (2006). Feminist film theorists: Laura Mulvey, Kaja Silverman, Teresa de Lauretis, Barbara Creed (Routledge critical thinkers). 

Tong, Rosemarie (1992). 'Postmodern Feminism' in Feminist Thought: Introduction. 

Dir Pedro Almodóvar (1990). ¡Átame!. 

T. M. Scorzafava (2011). Slip Away. 

Dir Alfonso Arau (1991). Como agua para chocolate. 

José Regina Galindo. Performance, poetry, blog. 

Tong, Rosemarie (1992). Feminist Thought: A Comprehensive Introduction. 

Humm, Maggie (1994). A Reader's Guide to Contemporary Feminist Literary Criticism. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Critical Analysis  (2000 words) 45%
Essay  (2000 words) 45%
Presentation 10%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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