- Course Number: 197
- Advisory Enrollment Information:
- Quarter: Winter 2024
This course focuses on Latinx travel narratives across genres, subgenres, and themes. The materials examined explore immigration, internal migration, exile, expatriate life, internationalist political missions, and various sojourner travelogues. We will map how Latinx life writing across time, place, and Latinx populations—Chicanx, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Salvadoran, Peruvian, and additional groups plus self-identified mix-heritage—undergird new transveral Latinidades, that is, new Latinx subjectivities that are interwoven with various geographical, cultural, political, historical, and personal stimuli throughout the world at large. This mapping of new Latinx syntheses seeks to unpack the “x,” as it were, as a complex signifier of ever evolving models of ontology (theories of being) and epistemology (theories of knowing). Several inquiries guide the course, and include the following:
- What new and/or old models of Latinidades are performed through encounters with other marginalized as well as dominant populations throughout the world, and how might they change our understanding of Latinidades in general?
- What are the political, philosophical, and broader ideological subtexts of new Latinx subjectivities and how do they relate to the broader present human condition and future options?
- What models of power and counter-power do these texts present and how might they relate to our contemporary and projected future world?
- How do gender, sexuality, and embodiment figure into extant and new visions of Latinidades in particular and being in general?
The required primary texts include well-known as well as unique niche and underground short stories, novels, poetry, films, and vernacular visual arts. Select secondary critical and theoretical texts will complement the readings, screenings, and supplemental course activities outside the classroom. The course is designed as a seminar, which will require all students to be active participants in the production of knowledge. The assignments include:
- Personal Statement About Interest in Course Topic
- 5 Reader Responses to Required Primary Texts
- 5 In-Class Unannounced Quizzes
- 3 Exams (1 in class, and 2 take home)
- Creative Critical Research Project (divided into its component parts and graded as separate assignments—Concept Paper, Abstract, Prospectus, Research Paper)
- Student Self-Assessment of Class Participation & Overall Course Performance
The course assignments are designed to stimulate advanced-level undergraduate critical thinking and writing in areas related to the general course topic. A basic goal of the assignments and the course overall is to expose students to established and new Latinx literary and cultural production. An important corollary to this goal is to provide a practical overview of foundational and new literary and cultural studies theories and methods relevant to the topic for students to adapt as appropriate to their own interests.
The specific skill sets that the course seeks to cultivate, exercise, and enhance revolve around critical reading and writing, and include:
- meta-critical polemics (i.e., participation in dialogues and debates about cultural politics that involves a candid self-awareness about one’s own positionality)
- theoretically-sophisticated exegesis (i.e. analysis) of primary literary and cinematic texts
- unique research project design experience that prepares students for graduate study
- practical writing skills (e.g., the nuts-and-bolts of rhetoric and style).
By the end of this course, students should be familiar with a unique and dynamic sub-category of Latinx literature, film, and popular culture, and also should be able to offer meta-critical assessments of the aesthetic, cultural, and political dimensions of these texts verbally and in writing. These skills are transferable to other fields and professions as well as to real-life scenarios, and thus are crucial dimensions of a university graduate’s intellectual repertoire.