English 326: Latino/a [or Latinx] American Literatures; Hunter College, Spring 2020
Mondays & Thursdays: 11:10 am – 12:25 pm, Thomas Hunter 505
Filipa Calado | Fcalado@gc.cuny.edu |Office hours: Monday, 10:00 –11:00 am, Hunter West 1432
- Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza, 1987.
- Junot Díaz, This is How You Lose Her, 2012.
- Jorge Luis Borges, “The Library of Babel,” “The Garden of Forking Paths”, 1944-62.
- Clarice Lispector, “Family Ties,” 1960.
- Ilan Stavans. “The Search for Wholeness,” from The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature, 2011.
- Ofelia Schutte. “Cultural Alterity: Cross-Cultural Communication and Feminist Theory in North-South Contexts,” Hypatia, 1998.
- José Esteban Muñoz. “Introduction: Performing Disidentifications,” from Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics, 1999.
- Carmen Maria Machado, In the Dream House, 2019.
(adapted from Daniel Hengel’s English 326 course description)
This course engages in a discourse unique to Latinx Literature. We will begin the semester by establishing a working definition and themes of Latinx Studies. Then we will turn to some of the literature of Latinx-American culture(s)—as well as pieces of critical theory and literary criticism relevant to Latinx Literary Studies. This class draws its content from canonical and contemporary authors that challenge traditional social, political, and culturally enforced representations of class, gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity. We will explore a selection of texts from the South American, Chicano, Dominican, and Cuban traditions, among others. Our texts will discuss border modalities, transient spaces of diaspora, representations of Latinx gender and sexual identity, the limits of transculturation, the reality of ‘hybrid’ identities, the consequences of cultural appropriation, and the promise of a new inclusionary American identity.
We will read about systems of difference and how we might engage with them. We will locate moments of resistance and submission. We will celebrate those who chose to speak truth to power despite the odds and obstacles, the threats and punishments.
This course will be a discussion. You will offer and elaborate your perspective and engage in friendly debate your classmates. This class will be a space of shared agency that encourages student engagement and critical thinking. Students will complete low-stakes, weekly writing assignments, deliver a ten-minute presentation in partners, and write a research-grounded paper on a text of their choosing. Readings include texts by: Jorge Luis Borges, Clarice Lispector, José Esteban Muñoz, Gloria Anzaldúa, Junot Díaz, Carmen Maria Machado, Sandra Cisneros, and others.
POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
- Weekly Responses, Comments, Discussion Questions 20%
- Class Participation 35%
- Annotation Papers 20%
- Final Paper 25%
Online Course Management:
The Course Website will be the main resource for all course materials, including readings and assignments. Early on in the semester, you will join the website as a group member. Blackboard will only be used to post a department copy of the syllabus. Throughout the semester, we will be using Hypothes.is (a digital annotation tool), accessible through the course website, for online homework assignments and in-class practice of close reading.
Attendance and Homework:
Prompt attendance is crucial in all English courses. You should come to class, and be on time. Certainly, issues come up—unexpected and unavoidable things. In that case, be sure to keep me informed of any special circumstances. The same goes for late work: I will deduct points for work that is late, but I’ll do my best to accommodate those who reach out at least a few days before an assignment is due.
Once a week, you will have a short homework assignment (more info is posted on the Course Website under “Weekly Responses”). These assignments might require you to explain your comprehension of the text, answer a question using textual evidence, or analyze a passage. You can type these up or you can write them out by hand. I will collect them at the start of our class sessions. The point of the responses is to get you thinking about the text and prepared for class discussion, as well as to give you material for your more formal papers. They will be graded on a complete/incomplete basis.
If you are repeatedly late to class or absent, your participation grade will reflect that lack of engagement.
Your participation grade will reflect how much you participate vocally in class discussion, writing, and presentations throughout the semester. If you choose, you can also take class notes (online) in place of vocal participation. More information on this option is below.
First, your vocal participation is always encouraged in this class. Most of what we do will be discussing, summarizing, and analyzing in a group environment. With that in mind, it will be important to do the readings, to come to class, and to offer your opinion. Your participation grade will reflect on your initiative and willingness to join class discussion.
The best way to contribute to class discussion is to prepare. Preparing begins with active reading. Rather than just skimming, you should be taking notes, marking quotes, documenting moments of surprise or frustration, and preparing to engage with others about the texts. In class, have your book and your notes available, and contribute your comments and observations as much as you can. Your weekly responses should also offer material for class discussion, and you are always encouraged to share what you wrote.
Besides discussion, you are expected to participate in class through writing “free-writes”. Like the homework responses, these free-writes will be short, low-stakes responses to a prompt. The point is to get you to think freely, brainstorm, and work through ideas, not to be grammatically correct. I will collect the free-writes at the end of class, will grade these for completion, as part of your participation grade. Additionally, we will also be peer-reviewing your research papers in small groups, which will factor into your daily participation grade.
Students will be required to give one 10-minute presentation with a partner. Your presentation is meant to contextualize the course reading for that day. For this presentation, you and your partner will be introducing the class to some aspect about the historical, biographical, or cultural background of the reading. Your focus should be on the context surrounding the author’s world and subject matter. You can summarize important historical events for that place and time, and give a sense of the specific culture that the author comes from. The details are up to you and your partner, but please consult the handout and online assignment page for a list of topics. You will be required to submit a presentation outline and list of sources for your presentation.
Finally, I also give the option for those less vocally inclined to participate by taking class notes online. Basically, you just have to document the class discussion, paying special attention to our course themes, on a shared googledoc accessible on the Course Website. You don’t have to transcribe the entire session, some bullet points and summary is good enough. I will distribute a sign up sheet at the start of the semester, and you can sign up for the specific day(s) you want to take notes. This will be 100% on a volunteer basis, you are not required to take notes unless you prefer note-taking to contributing vocally to class discussion. You also need access to a laptop in order to type up the discussion.
Over the course of the semester, you will write some short (1 page) responses, a few 2-3 page essays, and one 6-8 page research paper. Class discussion, your weekly responses and in-class free-writes will help generate and build ideas for these papers.
For the final paper, you will be required to turn in drafting materials, including a paper proposal and draft. If you neglect to turn in one of these materials, your grade for the paper will be deducted by 5%. For some of these preparatory materials, you will need to bring copies (either handwritten, printed, or digital) to class for review and workshopping. Check the syllabus to see the requirements. On the final days of peer review for the research paper, you will be required to bring hard-copies to class.
All assignments will be submitted via Googledrive.
In your filename, include your last name, otherwise I will have a hard time keeping track of all your papers. Also, remember to keep a copy of the paper saved for your records.
A paper’s potential grade will drop by one letter grade every day it is late. (An A potential, for example, will drop to a B potential on next day, then a C on the third day, etc.). If you have any issues with the deadlines, reach out to me in advance, and I will try to be accommodating.
Papers should be formatted according to MLA guidelines. Please look up these guidelines before submitting your papers. You can also see a sample MLA-formatted paper here, and an explanation of in-text citations here and here.
Email is the easiest way to reach me with questions, comments, and emergencies. However, do not email me with questions that require more than a quick answer. Questions that require any kind of discussion should be resolved in-person or over the phone. You can email me to set up a meeting (in-person or over the phone) to discuss these kinds of questions. Having an actual conversation is much less time-consuming and more informative for everybody involved. And for future reference, professors appreciate it when students try to set up a meeting rather than ask questions over email.
I understand that many of you have demanding schedules and do your reading/writing digitally. Miscellaneous items such as snacks and beverages, recording devices, computers, phones, and tablets are all permitted, as long as they don’t become a distraction.
The most important etiquette is respect. You should feel as though your voice is being heard, though others may respectfully disagree with you. If this is not the case, if you don’t feel you are being heard or understood, even by me, please come talk to me as soon as possible. It’s vital to experience learning as a collective activity, one in which we’re all invested in one another’s concerns and ideas.
Free Tutoring is available in the Reading/Writing Center (located in the seventh floor of the library). I encourage you to take advantage of this resource, especially when drafting and building the research paper. The Writing Center exists in large part to help you generate and develop questions and jumping-off points for papers-in-progress. Often it is from these conversations that significant, arguable, and surprising claims begin to emerge.
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