English 363: Experimental Hispanic Literatures

Queens College, City University of New York

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Class Notes, 7 Nov. 2011

November 7th, 2011 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Free-write: why did you like/dislike Cobra?

Responses from class

Jennifer: still taking it in: difficult at times, so much going on; which character to focus on; spirituality things going on: reincarnation, higher spirituality: Hinduism, Buddhism

Daria: don’t like it: mathematical terms (pg. 27); lost in all the characters; too graphic at times, for example the end of part 1 the sex change;

Christopher: poetic language: there were parts of intense imagery; inconsistent, that he didn’t write that way the entire time: pg. 22: “drug scene” intense visuals

Andrea: hard to follow because there was a lot going on; a lot of characters, and names of characters were animals  . . . .; have to re-read passages: feel like I’m reading it then I ask, “what just happened?”: “readers believe they’re processing information, but when they stop at a sentence to remember what they just processed, they forget”

John: if you’re reading something difficult, you have to re-read two or three times to understand what the author’s trying to say: Don Quixote for example: characters are aware characters means I have to train myself to accept that: more complexity means you have to read further

Romina: artistic references, wooden statues; lots of visuals, relies on visuals for the narrative; difficult because the pronouns would shift; “who was looking at whom” was all over the place;

Anthony: reminded me People of Paper; how not just narrative: composed of quotes, math problems, poems (pg. 20): bricolage

Short list of “difficult” novels and styles of writing:

The Grapes of Wrath: moves away from the plot; written in non-standard English accents

Oscar Wao: styles, techniques, footnotes; history

Pale Fire

Shakespeare, Chaucer, Milton (archaic English)

Joseph Andrews

Angels and Demons

Bleak House

Journal articles, literary criticism

The Divine Comedy

Things Fall Apart

Jane Austen stuff

David Foster Wallace


Cobra as a difficult text:

Pg. 5: “Be Brechtian”: Bertolt Brecht (A-effect, alienation-effect);

De-familiarization: ordinary language transformed into poetic language

Defamiliarize the familiar: make the everyday unique, desensitize our habits

E.G.: “Mack the Knife”:


COBRA Cast of characters

Members of the Lyrical Theater of Dolls

Cobra                                                                          Pup


Cadillac (Za za)



Mei Lan Fang (impersonator)                                        Pup



Eustachio (Indian, body painter)

Dr. Ktazob (performs Cobra’s sex change)

(the bikers)






“Lyrical Theater of Dolls”


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