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SPAN4411 - Childhood in Contemporary Latin American Cinema

Value: 0.5 course units
Dr Deborah Martin
Teaching structure:
one essay (40%); and one unseen two-hour written examination (60%).

Module Description:

This module will focus on the representation of children in film, with special attention to the kind of function childhood fulfills in Latin American cinema. This will allow us to explore thematic questions of nationhood, politics, gender and sexuality, and the way childhood is used to envision the past and history, as well as the future and social change. We will also consider questions specific to cinematic and visual representation, such as whether and how filmmakers attempt to create a child’s view of the world through aesthetic means, and ethical questions arising around the representation of child suffering and death.

Preparatory Reading and Set Texts:


  • La vendedora de rosas (Víctor Gaviria, Colombia 1998)
  • Central Station/Central do Brasil (Walter Salles, Brazil, 1998)
  • Kamchatka (Marcelo Piñeyro, Argentina, 2002)
  • La niña santa (Lucrecia Martel, Argentina, 2004)
  • Viva Cuba (Juan Carlos Cremata, Cuba, 2005)
  • La rabia (Albertina Carri, Argentina 2009)
  • Alamar (Pedro González Rubio, Mexico, 2009)
  • El último verano de la boyita (Julia Solomonoff, Argentina, 2009)
  • José Martí: el ojo del canario (Fernando Pérez, Cuba 2010)

Initial Secondary Bibliography

  • Bordwell, D. and K. Thompson. 2004. Film Art: An Introduction. New York: McGraw-Hill.

  • Del Pozo, D. 2003. “Olvidados y re-creados: la invariable y paradójica presencia del niño de la calle en el cine latinoamericano.” Chasqui 32.1: 85-97.
  • Hart, S. 2004. A Companion to Latin American Film. Woodbridge: Tamesis.
  • Hayward, S. 2000. Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts. London & NY: Routledge.
  • Kantaris, G. 2003. “The Young and the Damned: Street Visions in Latin American Cinema.” In Contemporary Latin American Cultural Studies, eds. S. Hart and R. Young, 177-89. London: Arnold.
  • Kelleher, J. 1998. ‘Face to Face with Terror: Children in Film’. In Children in Culture: Approaches to Childhood, ed. K. Lesnik-Oberstein. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 29-54.
  • King, J. 1990. Magical Reels: A History of Cinema in Latin America. London: Verso.
  • Lapsley, R. and M. Westlake. 1994. Film Theory: An Introduction. Manchester: MUP.
  • Lebeau, V. 2008. Childhood and Cinema. London: Reaktion Books.
  • Lury, K. 2010. The Child in Film: Tears, Fears and Fairytales. London: IB Tauris.
  • Monaco, J. 2000. How to Read a Film. Oxford: OUP.
  • Noriega, C.A. (ed). 2000. Visible Nations: Latin American Cinema and Video. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Podalsky, L. 2011. The Politics of Affect and Emotion in Contemporary LatinAmerican Cinema: Argentina, Brazil, Cuba and Mexico. Basingstoke: PalgraveMacmillan. [Especially Chap.1]
  • Rocha, C. and G. Seminet. 2012. Children in Hispanic Cinema [Special Issue]. Studies in Hispanic Cinema, 8.2.
  • Shary, T. and A. Seibel. 2007. Youth Culture in Global Cinema. Austin: University of Texas Press. [Especially Chap. 7]
  • Shaw, D. 2003. Contemporary Cinema of Latin America: Ten Key Films. New York: Continuum.