A. Music, Art, Humor, Sex and Romance
1. The major areas of Hispanic music, how they inform cultural awareness and appreciation.
2. How music is used in film, i.e. soundtracks in a film about other cultural matters such as food (Tortilla Soup), or films mainly about music such as documentaries (Buenavista Social Club).
3. Different styles of humor, and similarities/differences with Hollywood films. Humor as a human commonality and cultural differences.
4. How issues such as sex, love and romance are viewed amongst different cultures and compared with the Hispanic world. How this cultural perspective affects film content and things such as ratings. Understanding a film such as Y tu mamá también and how it is perceived in different cultures.
B. Politics and History
1. How social forces and events formulate cultural identity and codify belief systems about concerns such as “who we are” and “where we have come from.”
2. A brief history of the Spanish-speaking world, mainly covering larger geographical areas (Spain, Latin America) and the larger, significant events, i.e. conquest/discovery/encounter, Native American cultures, the mixture of “races” (mestizaje), the importation of other racial/ethnic groups such as African slaves and Asian laborers.
3. How these historical events are covered in film, from documentaries such as The Conquest of America to films that are fictionalized historical accounts such as Apocalypto.
4. How political events can affect and change a whole culture. I.e. los desaparecidos and the aftermath in films such as The Official Story, or films about political events which crossed national borders and could apply to many Hispanic countries such as Men with Guns.
5. Differences amongst various film genres and national origins pertaining to these issues. I.e. Rojo amanecer compared to a Hollywood film about these concerns such as Missing or Under Fire.
C. Sociocultural issues such as race, class and gender
1. How are issues of racial and ethnic identity dealt with in film, i.e. In The Time of the Butterflies.
2. How did social classes form in the Hispanic world, how are they perpetuated and what is their impact on the culture and society. How are they perceived, i.e. in a film such as The Motorcycle Diaries.
3. How are gender roles and gender issues presented in Hispanic films. For example, homosexuality in A mi madre le gustan las mujeres;. traditional roles of patriarchy and films that break those archetypes, e.g. Real Women Have Curves, and films about the non-traditional gender models.
4. Differences amongst various film genres and national origins pertaining to these issues.
D. Other important sociocultural issues
1. Film and literary genres originating from the Hispanic world, i.e. magical realism as seen in Como agua para chocolate or El laberinto del Fauno.
2. The use of stereotype to characterize Hispanic culture, e.g. Romancing the Stone.
3. The perception and realities of drug culture in Latin America, e.g. Maria Full of Grace.
E. Hispanic culture in the United States.
1. Assimilation as seen in films such as My Family/Mi familia
2. Identity struggles (race, ethnicity, gender, etc.) as seen in films such as Real Women Have Curves.
3. Pluralism as seen in films such as Tortilla Soup.
4. The effects of immigration, as seen in films such as A Day Without a Mexican.
5. How films from different national origins view issues such as immigration, i.e. Spanglish compared to El norte, and how film industry related matters affect film quality (sound, light, picture, distribution, etc.)
F. Film Theories and critical approaches
1. National cinema theory. Spanish cinema, Latin American cinema, Hollywood as a participant in Hispanic cinema.
2. Auteurism. Overview of ‘auteur’ theory. Hispanic cinema as influenced by ‘auteur’ directors and actors such as Almodóvar, Arau, Stone, Bardem, Banderas, etc.
3. Cultural studies theory. Film as popular art or cultural artifact. The function of movies within popular culture and the influence of popular culture on film.
4. Ideological film theory. The use of film to communicate beliefs and ideological meaning as a product of social, political, economic, religious, philosophical, psychological or sexual forces.
5. Analyzing films to uncover explicit, implicit and ideological meaning.
6. Explanation and examination of films utilizing fundamental film analysis methods such as narrative, mise-en-scene, cinematography, sound, etc.