Contemporary Latin American Fiction

City of Clowns (Pages 65-133)- Daniel Alarcón


The syllabus of this course was inspired by the conceptualization  of “states of emergency” by Puerto Rican writer, and professor Jotacé López. López argues that  “The state of emergency is the exception, the overturned routine, the searing pause, the lost tranquility.” Just like we have been seeing with Oscar/Chino in City of Clowns, subjectivities and stability are put in question or are performed critically by the authors and filmmakers we explored.  In this course, we engaged in a complex discussion about current Latin American fiction via literary and cinematic works. As López suggests, the vulnerability of bodies and the deteriorating circumstances in which life occurs were at the center of these narratives. Similar to Alarcón, the writers and filmmakers we put in conversation were addressing gender, sexual and gun violence, racism and anti-blackness, governmental corruption, (sub) urban decay, lack of economic opportunities, displacements, exile, diaspora, and family separations. As Alarcón reflected in his Macarthur Grant video we noticed that these literary and audiovisual texts challenge borders and fixed national/political constructs presenting instead hemispheric fluidity and archipelagic flows. The states of emergency point towards global crisis, of course, but also to all the inventive ways that people are using to survive, envision futures, narrate their realities, and create spaces for achieving self-reliance and hope.

Entry Questions

Write your response in a card and share it with a partner:

.What did you learn in our class?

.What was your favorite topic/reading/film/author/assignment?

.What was difficult this semester and how did you overcome that obstacle?

Oral/slide presentations


Williams,Christian I


Jeune Dumeny,Santiella



Group Discussion

Look and discuss the images created by Sheila Alvarado. How they expand the following topics present in Alarcón’s story.

.Fatherless Realities/ Collapsing Patriarchy

.The city as an attractive menace

.Movement and migration

.Socio-economic struggles/disparities

.Uncovering repress memories

How do these states of emergency compare to the narratives we watched and read during the second half of the semester?