SP3TM-The Testimonial Mode in Modern and Contemporary Latin America

Module Provider: Modern Languages
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring / Summer term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Par Kumaraswami

Email: p.kumaraswami@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This course examines key texts from a hybrid but rich genre which has only recently received critical attention but which has had a significant influence in both shaping and promoting artistic, socio-cultural and political developments in modern Latin America. The course explores the diverse ways in which testimonial production interacts and responds to literary, political and socio-cultural contexts, and how, although blurring the boundaries between history and fiction, it also aims to bear witness to key socio-historical events at a grassroots level. The course thus also examines the questions and contradictions which arise from the genre, and which have underpinned critical work in the past 25 years: whose voice and visions are being represented, and for whom? What strategies are used to present a convincing narrative of historical/political events? What risks are associated with these strategies? And what are the most recent technological developments that enable but also regulate the testimonial mode in contemporary Latin America?


  • To introduce students to the history of testimonial mode in Latin America in the 20th and 21st centuries.

  • To examine a range of examples of the testimonial mode during this period and to situate these narratives politically, socio-culturally and historically.

  • To situate the testimonial mode in broader debates about the disciplines of history, literature, sociology, ethnography, oral history, amongst others.

  • To enhance students’ knowledge of the contemporary Spanish language and develop their close textual analysis and critical reading skills of historical and cultural texts.

Assessable learning outcomes:

  • An understanding of the key figures, theories and historical development relevant to the testimonial mode.

  • To critically analyse, interpret and put into context a variety of historical and cultural texts proper to testimonial production.

  • Close textual analysis of primary sources and the ability to apply secondary sources and theoretical frameworks in their analyses.

  • The ability to work collaboratively with other students and express written and oral arguments effectively.

  • The ability to show evidence of independent research.

Additional outcomes:

  • Knowledge and skills gained from extra-curricular resources, such as guest speakers and cultural excursions.

  • Students will also improve their IT proficiency by creating a Facebook page based on a testimonial subject, by conducting Web searches for materials relevant to the module and by being required to submit word-processed essays and materials for oral presentations.

  • Oral communication and interpersonal skills will be developed through class discussion and group presentations.

Outline content:

                                    Texts and topics for study may include:

M. Barnet, Biografía de un cimarrón (Manchester University Press or any other edition)                        

M. Santos Moray, La piedra de cobre (Cuba: Casa de la Américas) * to be provided by PK                        

E. Poniatowska, Haste no verte Jesús mío (Spain: Alianza Editorial or any other edition) * to be provided by PK or also available on Kindle                             

E. Burgos, Me llamo Rigoberta Menchú y así me nació la conciencia (México: Siglo Veintiuno or any other edition)

Other online resources, as relevant



Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

This module will be taught through a combination of lectures and seminars (in Spanish and English, where appropriate). Students will be required to do preparatory reading for each seminar, participate in class discussion and small-group work.

Use of office hours and additional individual meetings for guidance and feedback.

Students may also undertake an academic placement, through which they will learn how to apply the knowledge and skills gained in studying for this module in a professional context outside the University.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 15
Seminars 15
Tutorials 3 2
Guided independent study 165
Total hours by term 198.00 2.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 40
Written assignment including essay 40
Oral assessment and presentation 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Two hour exam.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

  • Oral presentation: individual or group presentation during Spring term. 

  • Essay: 3000-3500 words, to be submitted at the beginning of the Summer Term.

  • Written exam: 2 hours, at beginning of Summer Term.

One piece of assessment worth no more than 40% of the module mark can be replaced by a report produced after an academic placement. The placement must be agreed in advance by the module convenor; the length of the report is to be equivalent to standard departmental practice for coursework. 

Formative assessment methods:

Draft essay plan, submitted for informal written and oral feedback in advance of submission of summative essay. Creation and development of Facebook page on a chosen testimonial subject in order to test practices and theories of testimonial production. Informal oral feedback for oral presentation will be provided on request.

Revision session for examination in Summer Term.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    Module mark of 40%

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Re- examination in August in the event of failure in this module and in the degree as a whole. Coursework bearing a confirmed mark of 40% or more can be carried forward; all other coursework to be resubmitted by 12 NOON on the third Friday of August or, if the University is closed, by 12 NOON on the first working day thereafter.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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