Kiss of the Spider Woman in Wisconsin (2019-2020)

During the 2019-2020 Great World Texts in Wisconsin program, teachers and students throughout the state read Manuel Puig’s Kiss of the Spider Woman.

Kiss of the Spider Woman is a 1976 novel about two prisoners who share a cell just prior to the start of Argentina’s military dictatorship and its Dirty War. In this time of censorship and loss of individual rights, a dogmatic revolutionary and a gay window dresser bond over memories of loved ones and the movies. Puig writes this daring and innovative novel as a dialogue between these two prisoners as they come to terms with their fates and the future of their country. This novel was adapted into a successful stage play in 1983, an Academy Award-winning film in 1985, and a Broadway musical in 1993.

We encourage teachers and students in Wisconsin to read along with us and ask ourselves the questions that Kiss of the Spider Woman invites. What are our individual freedoms during times of national crisis? How do we create and sustain collective memory? And what role do movies and art in general play in times of political turmoil?

Teaching Guide, Resources, and Student Conference Program

Teachers participating in the program received the “Teaching Kiss of the Spider Woman in Wisconsin” curricular guide and supporting materials. They also attended an educator colloquium in September 2019, featuring talks by campus experts, workshopping activities and discussions, and cultural and curricular presentations. Our participating educators and students joined UW-Madison faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, Center staff and members of the public for the Great World Texts in Wisconsin’s Annual Student Conference on March 9, 2020, one of the last campus gatherings prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All teachers, present and future, are welcome to download the curricular guide and supporting materials and use them in their classrooms. There is also a condensed version available for community reading groups. Both are available for download below. Also available is the conference program for the March 9, 2020 event, including descriptions of all participating student projects and conference presentations.

Teaching Guide

Community Discussion Guide

UW Libraries Research Guide


The application for the 2019-2020 program is now closed. All schools and community groups are welcome to utilize the curricular guides to read along with us! Future applications for the program typically open in April-May each year with a deadline of June-July.

Participating Schools Receive:

  • The opportunity to bring a challenging work of world literature to life in your classrooms and to work across disciplinary boundaries with educators at your school.
  • A classroom set of texts for your school’s permanent collection.
  • A curriculum guide, “Teaching Manuel Puig’s Kiss of the Spider Woman,” prepared with CCSS and individual teaching needs in mind. The guide contains contextual and lecture materials, suggested readings, close reading and discussion activities, handouts, and suggestions for student projects. Our teaching guide is designed to make the text accessible for a range of learners and grade levels, and is customizable to meet the needs of your classroom and students.
  • Year-round support and a professional development colloquium.
  • The opportunity to bring your students to UW-Madison for a full-day conference on March 9, 2020 where they will present their work on the text, engage in critical interpretive inquiry with others, and get a fresh take on the text from a leading expert.
  • A stipend that funds your school’s participation in the program. These funds can be used to offset the costs of substitute teachers, travel to Madison, and other program-related expenses.

Keynote Speaker: Student Conference and Public Lecture

Suzanne Jill Levine is a leading translator of Latin American literature, and professor at the University of California in Santa Barbara where she directs a Translation Studies doctoral program.  Her scholarly and critical works include her award-winning literary biography Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman (FSG & Faber& Faber, 2000) and her groundbreaking book on the poetics of translation The Subversive Scribe: Translating Latin American Fiction (published in 1991 and reissued this year by Dalkey Archive Press, along with her classic translations of novels by Manuel Puig).

Levine will meet with students at the Annual Great World Texts Conference, and will also deliver a public lecture that evening as part of the Center for the Humanities’ “Humanities Without Boundaries” speaker series.

Support for Kiss of the Spider Woman in Wisconsin

Kiss of the Spider Woman in Wisconsin is an initiative of the Center for the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, supported by the A. W. Mellon Foundation; the Evjue Foundation; UW-Madison Libraries; the Department of English; the Anonymous Fund of the College of Letters & Science; and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

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Participating Schools

In 2019-20, 24 schools from around the state participated in Kiss of the Spider Woman in Wisconsin.

  • Arrowhead Union High School, HARTLAND
  • Bay Port High School, GREEN BAY
  • Beaver Dam High School, BEAVER DAM
  • Brown Deer Middle High School, BROWN DEER
  • Chippewa Falls Senior High School, CHIPPEWA FALLS
  • Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah High School, ELKHART LAKE
  • Étude High School, SHEBOYGAN
  • Golda Meir School, MILWAUKEE
  • Kingdom Prep Lutheran High School, WAUWATOSA
  • Kohler High School, KOHLER
  • Lake Mills High School, LAKE MILLS
  • McFarland High School, MCFARLAND
  • Milwaukee High School of the Arts, MILWAUKEE
  • Milwaukee School of Languages, MILWAUKEE
  • Necedah High School, NECEDAH
  • Nicolet High School, GLENDALE
  • New Horizons Charter School, SHOREWOOD
  • Oshkosh North High School, OSHKOSH
  • Oshkosh West High School, OSHKOSH
  • Osseo-Fairchild High School, OSSEO
  • Reagan College Prep High School, MILWAUKEE
  • Rock University High School, JANESVILLE
  • SOAR High School, EAGLE RIVER
  • Southern Door High School, BRUSSELS