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  • Hispanic Film
  • Samuel Amago

When I first began teaching film courses at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, like many of my colleagues teaching at other institutions, I was forced to use an array of different readings published in English and Spanish. As we note in the Introduction to this volume, this approach has always placed us in a bilingual bind, since we assign readings in English but often conduct our classes in Spanish. This redesigned syllabus and course calendar incorporates all the commissioned essays published in the Vademécum del cine iberoamericano.

While a university course could certainly follow directly the Vademécum’s Table of Contents – and be divided into four units organized around the volume’s structuring themes – I have taken a more flexible approach here. Rather than advancing through “Experiencias cinematográficas”, “Políticas de la modernidad”, “Cuerpos visibles, ojos sensibles”, and “Espacios movedizos”, I have divided the semester into three interrelated modules – or thematic clusters – on the topics of Modernity, Migration, and Memory. Taking essays from the Vademécum, I have assigned them based on their relevance to the theme or film to be discussed each week.

Readers are encouraged to take this syllabus as a starting point, but depending on their own interests and approaches, they may wish to reorder the readings and select other film titles for a possible course.

Course description

Drawing examples from the diverse audiovisual production of the Iberian Peninsula and the Americas, this class is designed to teach students the basics of film analysis and to introduce them to different theoretical approaches. Every week, we will view a feature-length film and analyze it immediately afterward during an extended class session. The second shorter class discussion each week will delve more deeply into theoretical and methodological problems, aided by readings in film theory and analysis.

The semester is divided into three modules, each of which will be devoted to understanding how, since 1950, the cinemas of the Spanish and Portuguese speaking worlds have engaged with the problems of 1.) Modernity, 2.) Migration, and 3.) Memory. [End Page 295]

Course objectives

The principal objective of this course is to develop students’ skills and sophistication as viewers and critics of Hispanic film. We will combine our previous knowledge of the fundamentals of literary analysis with an introduction to the narrative, technical and stylistic elements of cinema. Through critical discussion of movies, students can expect to achieve:

  1. 1. A working knowledge of film language and terminology.

  2. 2. A more refined grasp of film theory and its importance to the interpretation of movies.

  3. 3. A well-developed ability to express and justify critical and aesthetic judgments through writing and oral discourse in Spanish.

Course requirements

The final grade will be determined by attendance and active participation in class discussion, thoughtful completion of daily reading assignments, ten reaction papers (300 words on each film to be uploaded to your Dropbox in Sakai before the next class), a group video project, and a final exam. There will also be quizzes on course readings and film viewings, which will form part of the participation grade.

The group video project is a shot-for-shot remake of a five-minute sequence selected from one of the films we will view this semester. We will hold a small film festival during the last two days of class, during which we will view and discuss your short films.

Grade Percentages:

Participation: 20%
Reaction papers: 30%
Short film project: 30%
Final Exam: 20%


Vademécum del cine iberoamericano: métodos y teorías. Eds. Eugenia Afinoguénova, Samuel Amago & Kathryn Everly Hispanófila 177 (2016).

Most readings will come from Vademécum del cine iberoamericano: métodos y teorías. Links to each day’s reading appear in the syllabus below. These links will take you to the digital edition of the book archived in PROJECT MUSE, which is accessible through the University Library.

Additional readings will be posted to the Resources page of Sakai.


Several of the films that we will be viewing over the course of the semester deal with adult themes including drug use, sexual situations and graphic depictions of violence. If you...


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pp. 295-300
Launched on MUSE
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