Literature, Arts and Culture in Cuba

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Explore Cuban culture—including the centrality and importance of Afro-Cuban culture, the continuing legacy of Castro’s Revolution and of links to the former Soviet Union, the divide with the Cuban Diaspora, and Cuba’s rich literary, film, and music production.
Location: Havana, Santa Clara, Moron, and Trinidad, Cuba
Language of Instruction: English
Term: Summer
Program Type: Faculty-led
Open to non-KU Students: Yes
Fulfills KU Core 4.2: No
Fulfills KU Core 5: No

Since Castro’s Revolution in 1959, the U.S. and Cuba have been seemingly irreparably divided. Literature and film by Cubans and Cuban Americans attest to this division (and, frequently, have attempted to bridge it). But Cuba has often been beyond the reach—even though just 90 miles away--of students wishing to learn about its culture, history, and politics. 

In this program, students will explore Cuban culture—including the centrality and importance of Afro-Cuban culture, the continuing legacy of Castro’s Revolution and of links to the former Soviet Union, the divide with the Cuban Diaspora, and Cuba’s rich literary, film, and music production. Potential activities will include a film viewing, a music performance, a presentation on Santería (the set of religious practices linking Catholicism and beliefs brought over from enslaved African peoples), a visit to artist studios, and more.  

Depart Kansas City for Cuba: May 20, 2024

Depart Cuba for Kansas City: May 29, 2024


Rich in diverse cultural influences including Spanish colonialism, AfroCuban syncretism, U.S. political and economic domination (pre-1959), and even the infusion of culture from imported and exploited Chinese labor, Cuba is a place like no other.  Since 1959, the Cuban Revolution itself, with its politics, ideals, and ideology, as well as its efforts to redefine the Cuban "nation", has also greatly affected Cuban culture, down to the most basic aspects of daily life, and has certainly given shape to its contemporary cultural production.

Havana, Cuba

Cuba’s capital and largest city, Havana, is central in any discussion of the island’s culture. Founded by the Spanish in the 16th century, today’s Havana features Old Havana (the colonial area), Vedado, the Malecón (sea wall), the Plaza de la Revolución, Morro Castle, the Havana Cathedral / Plaza de la Catedral, Parque Lennon (Lennon Park, after John Lennon), the Museo de la Revolución (Museum of the Revolution), and more. Havana is also home to Cuba’s major university, the University of Havana, and to the Casa de las Américas, Cuba’s foremost cultural institution.

Las Terrazas and Santa Clara, Cuba

Following Havana, students will explore Las Terrazas, a biosphere reservation and unique community of artists, coffee growers and foresters and then travel to Santa Clara.  Santa Clara is a beautiful city in Central Cuba which houses the mausoleum of Che Guevara and is a significant site of revolutionary history in Cuba. 

Trinidad, Cuba

Located on Cuba’s southern coast, Trinidad is an open-air museum of colonial architecture and planning.  It is also a significant city in the history of the Cuban sugar industry, Afro-Cuban culture, and the roots of the Santeria religion.  In 1988 this small city was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.      

Undergraduate students will enroll in ENGL 390 or LAC 302 Studies In: Cuban/Cuban American Literature and Culture (3 credit hours). 

Graduate students will enroll in LAC 602 Topics In: Literature, Arts and Culture in Cuba (3 credit hours).

During the second half of the spring semester, students will be expected to attend 1 hour per week Zoom class meetings in order to become acquainted with examples of Cuban and Cuban diaspora cultural production, and will be assigned readings and videos along with responses. Travel to Cuba will take place May 20-29, 2024.  The class will meet for one or two additional sessions upon return from Cuba, and students will complete a final research paper on some aspect of Cuban cultural production in June.

In Cuba, participants will stay in casas particulares (bed and breakfast accommodations in a private home). Rooms are double or triple occupancy.  Breakfast daily and most lunches and dinners are also included in the program.

SAGE is dedicated to creating international engagement opportunities that meet the needs of all our students and providing resources to support you through the process of studying abroad. Study abroad is achievable for students of all identities including our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students, students with disabilities, and students with religious/non-religious viewpoints. Before selecting a program, consider how your identities may impact your experience abroad in unique ways and talk with your Program Coordinator about any program-specific concerns. Students with documented disabilities should discuss any accommodation needs with their Program Coordinator early in the planning process.

Check our Identity Abroad page and resources listed below for information specific to you and other students who may be on your program.

This program is open to all undergraduate or graduate degree-seeking students from any accredited U.S. college or university.  Minimum 2.5 GPA. Exceptions considered after submission of a petition.

Program Cost for Literature, Arts and Culture in Cuba - Summer Program

Marta Caminero-Santangelo is Director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and a professor in the English Department, specializing on Latinx Literature.  She was born in Canada to Cuban immigrant parents who had become American Citizens. She teaches classes in Latinx Literature of Trauma and Testimony and Literature of Social Justice. She has written two books on Latinx Literature: On Latinidad: Latino Literature and the Construction of Ethnicity, and Documenting the Undocumented: Latino/a Narrative and Social Justice in the Era of Operation Gatekeeper. She regularly co-facilitates (with Mary Klayder) a Study Abroad program in Costa Rica.

Marta Caminero-Santangelo
Professor and Chair, Dept. of English
Wescoe Hall, Room 3001E