The short story, and especially the Latin American short story, is one of the most important literary manifestations of the Twentieth Century. It embodies the literary and cultural traditions, both European and native, which make Latin American literature unique.
This unit situates the Latin American short story in its literary, historical, and cultural contexts. It also presents four short stories, which, along with suggestions for classroom activities, will give students a good understanding of the place of Latin American traditions in modern literature.
The unit can be used in a Spanish I, Spanish II, Spanish III, or Spanish IV class. It can be used in a World Literature or a Comparative Literature class. It can be used in conjunction with a World History or American History class as well.
The four short stories selected for this ten-week unit are by outstanding authors who are considered masters of the Latin American short story. These stories were chosen for a particular audience—students in Spanish I. The majority of the students are ninth graders who have not had too much instruction in Spanish. Therefore, the stories they will read will be English translations. For upper levels of Spanish or for native speakers, the stories can be in the original language.
As ninth graders are immature and inexperienced readers, the stories chosen for this unit needed to be relatively simple to follow. The authors and their stories are: Jorge Luis Borges “The South”, Alejo Carpentier “Journey Back to the Source”, Julio Cortázar “The Southern Thruway”, and Gabriel Garc’a Márquez “Big Mama’s Funeral.”