Guillermo O’Donnell

“Guillermo O’Donnell: (1936-2011) Argentine political scientist. He earned a law degree in Argentina and a PhD from Yale University. He taught at universities in South America, Europe, and the United States (principally Notre Dame), and has written many books on Latin American authoritarianism and democracy and the transition from one to the other. His pathbreaking analysis of ‘bureaucratic authoritarianism’ as a specific type of military rule found especially in Latin America from the 1960s to the 1980s contributed greatly to the understanding of comparative politics.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Cultural Literacy: Juan Peron

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Juan Peron. And yes, it does mention Eva (“Evita”) Peron, the Argentine dictator’s wife, subject of the West End musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim RIce. This is a half-page worksheet with a reading of three sentences and three comprehension questions.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Astor Piazzola

“Astor Piazzola: (1921-1992) Argentine composer. Born in Buenos Aires, he lived in the Bronx, New York, until he was 15, then returned to Argentina to play the bandoneon (a type of accordion) in a tango band led by Anibal Troilo (1917-1975). From 1944 he led his own groups. His interest in classical music led to study with Nadia Boulanger (1954-55) and the development of his own compositional style, infusing elements of jazz and modern music into tango. Not always initially popular with tango fans, his music is now recognized as having revived the genre and greatly expanded its artistic potential.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Cultural Literacy: Jorge Luis Borges

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Jorge Luis Borges. This is a half-page worksheet with a two-sentence reading and three comprehension questions–a spare but reasonably effective introduction to a major figure (whom, to my deep chagrin, I have not read) in world literature.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Magic Realism

Magic Realism: (Sp, lo real maravilloso) A term introduced by Alejo Carpentier, in his prologue to El reino do este mundo (1949; tr The Kingdom of This World, 1957). The Cuban novelist was searching for a concept broad enough to accommodate both the events of everyday life and the fabulous nature of Latin American geography and history. Carpentier, who was greatly influenced by French surrealism, saw in magic realism the capacity to enrich our idea of what is ‘real” by incorporating all dimensions of the imagination, particularly as expressed in magic, myth, and religion.

In the hands of [Gabriel] Garcia Marquez and other writers of the Boom period, magic realism became a distinctly Latin American mode, an indigenous style for their explorations of history, culture, and politics. This narrative technique has influenced writers around the world.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

The Weekly Text, 30 September 2022, Hispanic Heritage Month Week III: One Hundred Years of Solitude

On the third Friday of Hispanic Heritage Month 2022, here is a reading on One Hundred Years of Solitude, the masterpiece of Magical Realism from Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

Have you read it? When I was a high school senior, my somewhat older but infinitely more sophisticated girlfriend gave me a copy. I read it, and as you can imagine, understood none of it. I keep meaning to get back to it.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

United Fruit Co.

“United Fruit Co.: U.S.-based fruit company. It was founded in 1899 in the merger of the Boston Fruit Company and other companies that sold bananas grown in Central America, Colombia, and the Caribbean. Minor C. Keith, its principal founder, gained extensive land rights in Costa Rica in return for constructing railroads. United Fruit became the largest employer in Central America, developing vast tracts of jungle lands and building one of the largest private merchant navies in the world. Attacked in the Latin American press as el pulpo (‘the octopus’), the company was widely accused of exploiting workers and influencing governments during the era of ‘dollar diplomacy’ in the early to mid-20th century. It later policies were more enlightened, and it transferred portions of its landholdings to individual growers. In 1970 United Fruit merged with AMK Corporation to form United Brands Co., which changed its name in 1990 to Chiquita Brands International, Inc.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Cultural Literacy: Third World

I am not entirely at ease publishing this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the concept of the “Third World”  because it is a term that I have always found patronizing at best. Nonetheless, as long as we humans consider “development” the ultimate achievement, then I suppose we will consider “underdeveloped” nations subordinate in rank to the “developed” world–you know, those countries that have allowed their heavy industries to create toxic waste dumps and foul the air with relative impunity.

Happily, this half-page document, which includes a reading of two sentences and two comprehension questions, focuses on the non-aligned (with neither the United States nor the Soviet Union during the Cold War, which isn’t entirely accurate in any case) character of African, Asian, and Latin American nations.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Mario Vargas Llosa with a Rhetorical Question

“At what precise moment had Peru fucked itself up?”

Mario Vargas Llosa, Conversation in the Cathedral ch. 1 (1969)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Cultural Literacy: Latin America

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the term Latin America. This is a half-page reading with a single-sentence reading and one comprehension question. This is, in other words, a basic definition of the term. It clears up, for the students with whom I use it, any confusion about this simple yet encompassing noun phrase.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.