SPN 260 Survey of Latin American Literature I

Department:  Spanish and Portuguese
Michelle Joffroy

Fall 2011, 2012

This foundational course for the Spanish major as well as the major in Latin American and Latino/a Studies is framed from the critical perspectives of indigeneity, colonialism, neocolonialism and interculturalism through the shared theme of land and identity in Latin American cultural production from the pre-Columbian era to the early 20th century.

One class meeting per week is dedicated to the study of plant/land relations in dialogue with the course texts. Botanic Garden activities include a tour of plants pertaining to the Americas, observation and sketching of plants and trees connected to the readings, a lecture and/or hands-on activity on plant hybridity, and a semester-long collaborative course project to produce a thematic survey map in Spanish and English on “Land, Plants and Cultural Identities in the Americas” as represented in the Lyman Plant House collections.

This map or guide will be available to the public at the conclusion of the course. The class will also visit the Smith College Art Library and the Mortimer Rare Book Room for the study of Aztec and Mayan codices and herbals.




Students developed a deep appreciation for the access to knowledge that a botanic garden provides while also developing a critical awareness of the histories of that knowledge, which are often intimately connected to processes of domination, appropriation and silencing of knowledge outside the Western epistemology; i.e. indigenous knowledge.


Michelle Joffroy