Sep 15, 2009


Last Friday, my students were somewhat nervous while they were getting ready to have a videoconference with Venezuelan actor Marisa Román. They were concerned about their level of Spanish, and whether it would allow them to participate fully in the conversation. Meanwhile, in my office, Marisa Román waited for my signal to come to my classroom and surprise the students. And it happened. We managed to repeat the wonderful experience of two years ago, when Marisa also came to my class as a surprise.

The conversation was fluent and very honest. There were many lessons. Besides deepening their learning about telenovelas, my students were able to appreciate first hand how, beyond the glittering aspects of celebrity, actors are human beings whose craft is centered on feelings and emotions. In addition, my students, who are frequently inhibited from speaking Spanish because they haven't perfected it, watched how Marisa Román privileged her desire to communicate with them over her English level and had no qualms to correct her spoken English as she answered our questions. (You can read some my students' posts about this visit in the class blog: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).

Here's a video of the visit. The quality is far from perfect, but the content is representative of what happened in our class during that hour. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did.

Sep 8, 2009


Once again (see Edgar Ramírez, Carlos Mata and Guy Ecker), we have the opportunity to watch a long interview with an actor whose career includes telenovelas as a key ingredient. This time it's Mexican Kate del Castillo in a conversation with Venezuelan writer Leonardo Padrón.

In addition to her work in telenovelas (Imperio de Cristal, Azul, Mágica Juventud, Alguna vez tendremos alas, Ramona, El Derecho de Nacer y La Mentira, among others), Kate del Castillo has participated in U.S. television series like Weeds and in several films: “Nada que ver”, “Reclusorio”, “Amor que mata”, “Aviso de ocasión”, “Por ti”, “Daría tu vida”, “18 Pesos”, “Las Sobrinas del Diablo”, “Peligro en Altamar” and the acclaimed "Bajo la misma luna".

Following is the video of the interview. Among other topics, Kate del Castillo and Padrón talk about the paradox that telenovelas are for actors: acting training like no other and an acting corset of sorts because of how repetitive protagonist roles have become.

Sep 1, 2009


In my class "Telenovelas, Culture and Society," students analyze the representations and identities included in a telenovela of their choice. They also need to have access to this telenovela via TV, Internet, or because they purchased it on DVD. For this exercise, I don't mind if they analyze one of those abridged telenovelas they sell on DVD (6-20 hours long, instead of 120+). I explain to my students the pros and cons of studying a telenovela that has been edited to its minimal expression. My goal is that they practice the analytical tools I teach them in class.

The telenovelas chosen reflect the students' tastes and perceptions. (It's worth noting that most of them have never watched a telenovela before they take this class). But, their choices are also a reflection of what the telenovela market offers them here in the United States. Unfortunately, many telenovelas that are in YouTube are banned for Internet users in the U.S. As for telenovelas on DVD, Amazon and eBay are the places where one can find more variety and a decent selection of abridged telenovelas. And, even though each year I teach the class I notice that the offer has increased, it's also true that the number of producing countries and networks that market their telenovelas on DVD format doesn't increase nearly at the same pace. Therefore, it's notorious the absence of many producing countries, and of scores of telenovelas. So, this list does not mirror exactly the international market distribution of telenovelas, but it still resembles it (a majority of Mexican remakes).

Following is the complete list of telenovelas that will be analyzed in my class (the number inside the parentheses indicates when a telenovela has been chosen by more than one student):