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Abstract

In his article, Gene H. Bell-Villada's "The Canon is el Boom, et. al., or the Hispanic Difference," argues that the rich, globally acclaimed, foundational yet contestatory prose literature produced in Latin America allows teachers and scholars of Spanish to teach what is essentially the "canon" via work that is still fresh, yet historically provocative. Bell-Villada argues that in a time of reconsidering the importance of literature in literature programs, programs of Spanish language and culture should continue to teach this rich cultural legacy. The average U. S. student's condescension toward Spanish and Latin American culture can be transformed to respect after an encounter with writers like García Márquez, Borges, and similar writers of acclaim and when students encounter Nobel Prize winning authors in a course on Latin America their understanding of the region moves beyond the "Taco Bell" stereotype. Focusing courses on the "great works" of literature also allows students to rediscover the pleasure in the text making course material accessible and appealing. Further, Bell-Villada suggests that these texts allow us to include material on such topics as U.S. imperialism, race issues, political oppression, and world-system structures of power. For these reasons alone, literature is essential to a project dedicated to teaching students the ways that Hispanic culture is both different and intellectually valuable.

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