Latin American Literature and the Environment

This course will explore the relationship between Latin American literature, culture and the environment. We will examine the region in an adventurous exploration of Latin American literature in translation and of cinema. What is the relationship of literature and culture to the environment? What are our responsibilities toward the natural world? We will explore these questions and more. The course will be organized around specific relevant themes such as ecosystems, environmental crisis, deforestation, pollution, waste, animals, plants, and endangered species. Further connections will be drawn around indigeneity, colonialism, displacements, and globalization.

Fulfills the Faculty of Arts Literature Requirement.

SPAN 312B will be a combination of asynchronous (mostly) and synchronous instruction.

Required readings:

All texts for the course will be in English. Texts will be available on Canvas in PDF; films will be available streaming through the UBC Library.

Primary texts (selections from):

  • Gabriel García Marquez – One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967)
  • Mario Vargas Llosa – The Green House (1966)
  • Eduardo Galeano – Open Veins of Latin America (1971); Memory of Fire (1982); Book of Embraces (1989)
  • Gioconda Belli – Waslala (1996)
  • César Aira – An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter (2000)

Short selections from the following authors:

  • Popol Vuh (Pre-Columbian Maya)
  • Columbus’ diary
  • Ernesto Cardenal
  • Davi Kopenawa Yanomami
  • Clarice Lispector
  • Octavio Paz
  • Anacristina Rossi


  • Waste Land (2010) – dir. Lucy Walker
  • Even the Rain (2010) – dir. Icíar Bollaín
  • The Salt of the Earth (2014) – dir. Wim Wenders
  • Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (2018) – dir. Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky

Prerequisite: None

Language of Instruction: English

Not available for credit toward a Major or Minor in Spanish.
This course fulfils the Faculty of Arts Literature Requirement.

Course registration