DELC340: Autocrats, Caudillos and Big Men : Understanding Dictatorship in its Cultural Representation in the Twentieth Century

Final year, optional

This module will consider different ways in which the concept of ‘dictatorship’ has been understood and critiqued throughout the twentieth century. Considering examples from Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Guinea, Italy, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe, students will explore the differences between the Latin American caudillo, European dictators, and the ‘Big Men’ of Africa. Selected critical and theoretical sources will be drawn upon to develop a more critical understanding of dictatorship, including the work of Hannah Arendt, Roberto González Echevarría and Achille Mbembe.

The module will also examine relationships between dictatorship and cultural production. How have dictators represented themselves in their writing, speeches and literature? To what extent have they controlled cultural production and to what end? How, in turn, have they been represented in cultural production? What role do writers, artists and intellectuals play in evaluating and critiquing dictatorship? In turn, can the writer, artist or intellectual be considered to be a dictator in the particular world view he/she projects and/or the rhetoric he/she adopts?