Courses

We have courses in popular culture, performance studies, visual arts, literature, urban studies, ethnography, history, and more! Each semester, faculty invite speakers, performers, and artists to visit and contribute to our courses. These guests also give public presentations and meet informally with students, enriching our curriculum and students’ educational experiences. Please consult the course catalog for a full listing of courses, as the following is just a sampling:

LATS 105(F) LEC Latina/o Identities: Constructions, Contestations, and Expressions

What, or who, is a Hispanic or Latina/o/x? How have these shifting terms tried to encompass the identities and experiences of such large and diverse groups of peoples? In this course, we focus on the complex nature of "identity," as we delve into the interdisciplinary field that has emerged to give voice to groups that were too often excluded from or misrepresented in academic disciplines and discourses. Viewing identities as historically and socially constructed, we assess how racial, ethnic, class, and gendered identities take shape within specific contexts in the Hispanic Caribbean and Latin America, as well as in the United States. We examine the impact of (im)migration and the rearticulation of identities in the United States, as we consider that each group has a unique history, settlement pattern, community formation, and transnational activities. Identity is also a contested terrain. As immigrants and migrants arrive, the United States' policymakers, the media, and others seek to define the "newcomers" along with long-term Latina/o citizens. At the same time, Latinas/os rearticulate, live, assert, and express their own sense of identity. We examine these diverse expressions as they relate to questions of class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and national origins. [ more ]

LATS 114 SEM Of Caravans and Narcos: U.S. Media Narratives about Central and South America

Last offered Spring 2020

What do contemporary U.S. media discourses about Central and South America reveal about relationships of power in the Americas? How does the systematic analysis of visual, textual, and sonic media discourse enhance our comprehension of broader social dynamics? How do South and Central Americans in the diaspora actively counter dominant media narratives about their communities? And what does it mean to center the unique histories, cultures, and political contexts of diasporic Central and South Americans within Latina/o/x Studies? Drawing from a wide range of scholarly materials and media platforms, this interdisciplinary course assumes a transnational approach to these issues, with an emphasis on how to conduct effective discourse analysis of everyday media texts. Above all, we will highlight the ways in which ethno-racial identity, gender, sexuality, class, and nation intersect to inform mainstream U.S. media narratives and our understandings of past and present modes of representation. [ more ]

LATS 115(F) TUT Latina Feminist Spiritualities

Self-proclaimed feminist activists, who hail from a variety of ethnic Latina/o/x/e (Latine) backgrounds, have often appealed to "ancestral" and "spiritual traditions" as integral to their activism and commitments. Some Latine feminists turned to "spiritual" traditions including brujería/witchcraft; curanderismo and Indigenous healing traditions; Santería/Lukumí and other AfroDiasporic traditions; astrology; home altars; various "mystical" traditions such as Kabbalah and Sufism, as well as Christian mystics like Teresa of Avila or Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Others have turned to the appropriation of "Eastern" traditions such as yoga, Tibetan Buddhism, and Zen Buddhism. This course engages students in an intensive introduction to some of the varieties of Latine feminist thought and contexts, including how activists, writers, and artists think about women, gender, sexuality, race, class, colonialism, the earth, healing, and a better world. How do these feminists of different Latine backgrounds and contexts imagine a better world? How and why do they appeal to spiritual traditions as a source of wisdom, healing, and lived practice for a better world? In this course, we seek to understand both particular Latine feminist spiritual practices on their own terms, as well as why such writers and activists appeal to "the spiritual" in Latine contexts. We will also consider how they frame notions of "the spiritual" in relationship to notions of "the religious" and "the secular." [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

LATS 209(F) SEM Spanish for Heritage Speakers

This course is intended for students of Latino/a heritage. It will address the unique needs of students whose knowledge of Spanish comes primarily from informal and family situations rather than a conventional classroom experience. The goal of the course is to build on and expand students' existing knowledge of Spanish while developing skills for using the language in more formal/academic contexts. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

LATS 219(F) SEM Religion in Latinx Literature, Art & Film

LATS 219--Religion in Latinx Literature, Art & Film This course will examine how a selective range of US Latinx writers, artists, and filmmakers--particularly in fiction, memoir, visual arts and films by and about Latinidad--depict, describe, and discuss religious themes, broadly considered. Latinx-authored novels and memoirs, artwork by Latina/o/x visual artists, and films depicting Latinx life through the lens of Latinx film-makers will be read, viewed, and studied to facilitate discussion about what it means to be Latina/o/x and religious. How do fictional, autobiographical and artistic depictions of Latinx people, communities, and their religiosity/spiritualities promote or deter understanding of Latinidad in the U.S.A.? [ more ]

LATS 222 LEC Ficciones: A Course on Fiction

Last offered Fall 2022

This course is focused on the art and practice of writing fiction. We will study published fiction by Latina/o, Latin American, Afro-Diasporic, and other writers of the Global South, paying close attention to how each author employs narrative elements--characterization, plotting, structure, dialogue mechanics, setting, tone, theme--as well as the values and visions expressed. Regular assignments and in-class exercises will help students strengthen their own narrative skills. [ more ]

LATS 224(S) LEC U.S. Latinx Religions

In this course, we will engage aspects of Latinx religious experiences, practices, and expressions in the United States of America. Given the plurality of Latinx communities and religious lives in the U.S.A., we can only consider select contexts that help us understand the challenges of studying and defining the "religious" and "hybridity" in Latinx contexts. We will survey certain selected religious traditions and practices--such as popular Catholic devotions to Guadalupe, crypto-Judaism, curanderismo, Latinx Pentecostalism, Latinx Muslims, and Santeria, as well as Latinx approaches to traditional US religious expressions of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. We will do so by focusing on particular moments of religious expression as elucidated in specific historiographies, ethnographies, art, literature, and film. [ more ]

LATS 227 SEM Utopias and Americas

Last offered Spring 2012

The very word for "utopia," a Latin word coined by Thomas More in 1516, owes much of its initial imagination to European voyages of "discovery" and conquest. In this course, we examine the ways that the "New World," and particularly the United States of America, has been a utopian project from the early days of colonization. How have particular historical experiences in the Americas been shaped by utopian machinations, and how has the New World transformed the dreaming of utopia? In this course, we consider the theory of utopia in conversation with select historical writings from and scholarship about early Spanish and English colonization, early nation-building in the U.S., Haiti, and Mexico, the Shakers, the Oneida Community, the Canudos Massacre in Brazil, Father Divine's International Peace Mission Movement, Chicanx Aztlán, Chalatenango in El Salvador, and Oyotunji Village in South Carolina. We also examine literary and artistic selections from Edward Bellamy, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ayn Rand, Sun Ra, and Black Panther (2018). Through these different utopian moments and selections, we trace themes of time, space, environment, gender, family, class, race, colonialism, and rebellion and examine the ways in which different utopias have responded to and reproduced structural injustices. Because utopias have been so common throughout the Americas, students are encouraged to bring in comparisons with utopias not listed on the syllabus. [ more ]

LATS 228 LEC Revolt and Revelation in 20th-Century Americas

Last offered Fall 2017

Writing in 1971, Dominican priest and Peruvian theologian Gustavo Gutierrez asked "Is the Church fulfilling a purely religious role when by its silence or friendly relationships it lends legitimacy to dictatorial and oppressive government?" Such a question encapsulates the sometimes agonistic and other times deeply intertwined relationships between religious institutions, religious thought, and movements for political transformation in the 20th century Americas. This course examines those forms of "God-talk" broadly termed "liberation theologies" that responded to and challenged social relationships of class, colonization, race, culture, gender, sexuality, (dis)ability, and ecology. These theologies were borne out of and in turn deeply shaped struggles against oppressive regimes and structures in the Americas, and as such we will focus on some specific theological writings--such as those of Gutierrez--and their relationship to distinct social movements and struggles over land, economy, and political power, especially in Brazil, El Salvador, Perú, and the United States of America between 1960-2000. [ more ]

LATS 230(S) LEC Cities, Suburbs, and Rural Places

Long associated with cities in the scholarly and popular imagination, immigrants have increasingly settled in U.S. suburbs. Through the lens of new destinations for im/migrants, this course introduces spatial methods, perspectives, and concepts to understand cities, suburbs, and rural places and the relationships between these various spaces. We ask how geographically specific forces and actors shape these trends, as well as the spatially uneven outcomes of complex processes like globalization. This interdisciplinary course highlights racial, legal, economic, political, environmental, social, and cultural dimensions of how transnational migrants become part of and create homes in new places. Through a range of textual materials (academic, technical, popular, visual), we explore why people migrate, the origin of the "illegal alien" figure, economic restructuring and local immigration policies, environmental justice, place-making and community development. Rooted in critical race geographies, case studies are often comparative across different racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. West, South, Midwest, and Northeast. We analyze how documentation status and perceptions of illegality affect the lived experiences of Latines. This course will be mostly discussion-based, with grading based on participation, short writing exercises, three assignments, a midterm examination, and a final exam. [ more ]

LATS 231 SEM Approaches to Media Studies: Analyzing Mediated Difference

Last offered Spring 2017

Media's influence in 21st century life is pervasive, and encompasses visual, sonic, and discursive formats.This course introduces students to a variety of qualitative approaches to the study of contemporary media. Simultaneously, we will explore questions of ethno-racial identity, gender, and sexuality. Structured around a series of hand-on exercises designed to provide experience in the areas of textual analysis, in-depth interviews, virtual ethnography and participant observation, this class will provide students with interdisciplinary training that enhances their understanding of everyday media and its interaction with multiple categories of identity. This course is a comparative Ethnic Media Studies class that encourages students to employ media as a lens for theorizing the intersections between ethno-racial identity, gender, and sexuality. We review materials focusing on a wide range of minoritarian communities. [ more ]

LATS 232 SEM We the People in the Stacks: Democracy and Literatures of Archives

Last offered Spring 2023

"Archives have never been neutral they are the creation of human beings, who have politics in their nature. Centering the goals of liberation is at the heart of the issue" (Jarrett Drake, former digital archivist at Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University). In this generative writing and critical-practice course, students examine the concept of archives through the lens of democratic ideals. A primary focus is on how Latinidades and works of Global South literatures engage archives--their creation and deletions, their contents and omissions, their revelations and concealments. Drawing from the values explored in class, students have opportunities to contribute to existing archival collections and/or to curate their own. [ more ]

LATS 240 SEM Latina/o/x Language Politics: Hybrid Voices

Last offered Spring 2023

In this interdisciplinary course we will focus on issues of language and identity in the contemporary cultural production and lived experience of various Latina/o/x communities. As such, how are cultural values and material conditions expressed through Latina/o/x language and literature? How does Latina/o/x identity challenge traditional notions of the relationship between language, culture, and nation? In what ways might Latina/o/x literary and linguistic practices serve as tools for social change? Departing from an overview of common linguistic ideologies, we will examine code-switching or Spanglish, bilingual education, linguistic public policy, the English Only movement, and Latina/o/x linguistic attitudes and creative responses. In addition to a consideration of language and identity grounded in sociolinguistics, anthropolitical linguistics, Latinx studies, and cultural studies, we will survey a variety of literary genres including memoir, novel, and poetry. Both directly and/or indirectly, these texts address Latina/o/x language politics, as well as the broader themes of power, community, ethno-racial identity, gender, sexuality, class, and hybridity. [ more ]

LATS 253(F) LEC Religion and Politics in the Caribbean and the Diaspora

This course analyzes the role of religion in Caribbean history and politics, with a focus on Puerto Rico and Cuba. These Caribbean Islands have lived out contested colonized histories and experiences, as well as diasporic realities in several key US communities, such as New York City and Miami. The US government and military have played a significant role in both since the turn of the last century, forcibly shaping their economies and politics. Religion, particularly the Protestant missionary enterprise since the US invasions in 1898, has also shaped histories and politics on the islands and throughout their diasporas. We will explicate the role and impact of Protestant religion in these historically indigenous, African descendent, and Roman Catholic religious spaces, as well as how these religious engagements and theologies impacted migration and the creation of diasporic communities in the US. Both the role of religion in the imperialist endeavor and the solidarity movements that responded will occupy our time in this course, with special attention to key figures in both sides of such efforts. With some enhanced understanding of the intertwining of religion and politics in Puerto Rico, Cuba and their diasporic communities, participants in this class will also consider implications for other Caribbean nations, such as the Dominican Republic, as well as Latin American countries that have experienced US interventions and the creation of diasporic communities. [ more ]

LATS 254(F) SEM Embodied Knowledges: Latinx, Asian American, and Black American Writing on Invisible Disability

This interdisciplinary course assumes an expansive approach towards disability, defining it not exclusively as a legible identity that one can lay claim to, but rather as an identity grounded in one's relationship to power (Kim and Schalk, 2020). This course centers on the critical role of lived experience as a key site of everyday theorization for the multiply marginalized, and specifically on the ways in which invisibly disabled Latinx, Asian American, and Black American individuals write the self. As scholars in disability studies argue, self-representations of disabled individuals carry the potential for us as a society to move beyond the binary narratives of "tragedy or inspiration" so often associated with disability. Rather, the self-produced narratives of US disabled writers of color offer a much more nuanced portrayal of everyday life with disability/ies for the multiply marginalized. Much like invisible disability itself, these self-representations ultimately refute traditional depictions of disability, and underscore the ways in which the bodymind serves as a rich, albeit often overlooked, site of knowledge. Embodied Knowledges draws on the insights of disability studies, crip studies, anthropology, literary studies, medicine, psychology, education, cultural studies, ethnic studies, American studies, gender and sexuality studies, sociology, and trauma studies. We will examine the works of Latinx, Asian American, and Black American writers and scholars others in relationship to one another, and as points of departure for examining issues such as the relationship between immigration and disability; intergenerational trauma; the impacts of paradigms such as the Model Minority Myth and notions of cultural deficit; passing; the politics of disability disclosure, the paradoxes of invisible disability; invisible disability in academic spaces; the role of culture and categories of difference such as race, gender, class and immigration status in societal approaches to and understandings of invisible disability; and future visions in the realm of disability justice and care work. [ more ]

LATS 278(S) SEM Latinxs and Their Scriptures: Christian, Muslim, & Jewish

This course studies the nature of authorized religious writings--"Scriptures"--among Latinx communities in the US in three major religious traditions--Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Beginning with an understanding of the nature and function of "scriptures" in religion as a whole, this course will turn to a brief history and current status of Latinidad in the US, including its religious traditions, and how scriptures have functioned in those traditions, especially among Latina/o/x adherents. Then we will do close readings of major texts in Latinx Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, both the scriptures of those communities and interpretative readings of them by adherents and scholars alike. Our goal will be a more thorough understanding of Latinx religious reading practices, interpretations, and implications on the life and overall well-being of Latinx communities in the US. [ more ]

LATS 285 SEM The Bible and Migration: Latinx Perspectives

Last offered Fall 2022

This course seeks to understand migration in the current historical moment, around the globe but especially on the US border. The lenses through which we will explore migration include Religion, with special focus on the Christian Bible. We will explore instances of and reflections on migration in the Bible, as well as various interpretations of the Bible emerging today in debates over migration. The course will approach US migration from the perspective of Latinx communities in the US - historically, culturally, politically, and religiously. Readings will include: The Bible, monographs and essays on the Bible and Migration, especially from the perspectives of Latinx authors and thinkers. [ more ]

LATS 286(F) SEM Conquests and (Im)migrations: Latina/o History, 1848 to the Present

The first Latinx communities were formed in 1848 when the United States conquered half of Mexico's territory. In 1898 the United States annexed Puerto Rico and has retained sovereignty to this day. These early conquests and continuing im/migrations created Mexican and Puerto Rican communities in the United States. U.S. imperialism continued to shape the im/migrations that created Cuban, Dominican, Salvadoran, Guatemalan and other Latinx communities in the United States. This course explores U.S. military, political, and economic interventions and their impact on im/migrations and the making of Latinx communities. We also explore the impact of U.S. employers' and the U.S. government's recruitment of low wage workers in shaping im/migrations, destinations, and the formation of Latinx working-class communities. Im/migration and refugee policies have long defined who is eligible to enter and how, as well as who is deemed eligible for citizenship and belonging. Within this context, Latinas and Latinos have developed survival and family reunification strategies for themselves, their families, and their communities. [ more ]

LATS 309 TUT Scriptures and Race

Last offered Spring 2018

This course focuses on the relationships between constructions of race in the post-1492 American world and "Christian scriptures." The big questions of the course examine the ways that contestations of power are intertwined with the making of, interpretation, and transformation of sacred texts. Both scriptures and race are conceptual constellations of human social imagination, and yet their conceptualization has often been embroiled in the hopes and traumas of everyday life in the Americas. How and why did these two terms come to have any relationship to each other? How and why do peoples engage "scriptures"? In what ways have "scriptures" informed how people imagine themselves, their communities, and their relationship to religious and racial "others"? How did "scriptures" and "race" inform each other in modern colonialisms and imperialisms? In this course, we will examine the ways that scriptures have been employed in order to understand and develop notions of race, and we will examine how ideas about and lived experiences of race have informed the concept of scriptures as well as practices of scriptural interpretation. [ more ]

LATS 313(S) SEM Gender, Race, and the Power of Personal Aesthetics

This interdisciplinary course focuses on the politics of personal style among women of color in the digital era. With a comparative, transnational emphasis on the ways in which ideologies of gender, (dis)ability, sexuality, ethno-racial identity, neoliberal capitalism and class inform normative beauty standards and ideas about the body, we examine a variety of materials including commercial websites, podcasts, histories, personal narratives, ethnographies, and sociological case studies. Departing from the assumption that personal aesthetics are intimately tied to issues of power and privilege, we engage the following questions, among others: What are some of the everyday functions of personal style among women of color in the US and globally? How do Latina/x, Black, Arab American, and Asian American personal aesthetics reflect the specific circumstances of their creation, and the unique histories of these racialized communities? What role do transnational media and popular culture play in the development and circulation of gendered and raced aesthetic forms? How might the belief in personal style as activist strategy complicate traditional understandings of feminist political activity? And what do the combined insights of ethnic studies, feminist studies, cultural studies, media studies, queer studies and disability studies contribute to our understanding of gendered Asian American, Arab American, Black, and Latina/x bodies? [ more ]

LATS 315(S) SEM Research Design in Geography: Social Science Perspectives

How do you design a research project? Which methods of data collection and analysis are appropriate for research questions in Latinx Studies? This course provides an introduction to the process of designing and carrying out a research project, including related to Latinidades, or a plurality of Latinx identities. It introduces students to how social science knowledge is produced to understand the research process, how research emerges, and how we affect research. Course objectives for students are: 1) to design social science research effectively; 2) to critically evaluate the research design of others; 3) to strengthen their academic research and writing skills; and 4) to develop an appreciation for how knowledge is acquired, organized, and communicated. Students will iteratively develop an original research proposal involving several pieces of synthesis. Through applying different research methods to case studies in Latinx Studies, students will understand that the complexity of the issues affecting Latinx communities requires thoughtful research. Students will receive practical training in research protocols, organization methods, project management, and analytical approaches. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

LATS 316 SEM The Graphic Narrative: A "Global South" Perspective

Last offered Fall 2019

"[I]n a media-saturated world in which a huge preponderance of the world's news images are controlled and diffused by a handful of men' a stream of comic book images and words, assertively etched' can provide a remarkable antidote." --Edward Said, Introduction to Palestine by Joe Sacco. This course examines graphic narratives (and related texts and film) rooted in the "Global South," with particular emphasis on Latina/o and Latin American experiences. We will focus on how each author/artist deploys visual and narrative elements to express social, political, economic, and cultural realities. Regular assignments will offer students opportunities to create their own graphic narratives. [ more ]

LATS 318(S) SEM Myths and the Making of Latine California

California is home not only to the largest ethnic Mexican population in the USA but also to the largest Central American population, while also being home to long-standing Latine communities hailing from Chile to Cuba. Since the era of Spanish colonization, especially starting in 1769, California has been woven into fantastic imaginations among many peoples in the Americas. Whether imagined as Paradise or Hell, as environmental disaster or agricultural wonderland, as a land of all nations or a land of multiracial enmity, many myths have been inscribed onto and pursued within the space we call California. In a state whose name comes from an early modern Spanish novel, how did certain narratives of California come to be, who has imagined California in certain ways, and why? What impact have these myths had on different Latine populations in the history of California, and how have different Latines shaped, contested, and remade these myths as well as the California landscape that they share with other peoples? In this course, we consider "myth" as a category of socially powerful narratives and not just a simple term that refers to an "untrue story." We examine myths by focusing on a few specific moments of interaction between the Latine peoples who have come to make California home and the specific places in which they have interacted with each other. Of special interest are select creation stories (found in Jewish, Christian, and Indigenous traditions), imaginations of the Spanish missions, the Gold Rush, agricultural California, wilderness California, California as part of Greater México, California as "sprawling, multicultural dystopia," and California as "west of the west," including its imagination as a technological and spiritual "frontier." [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

LATS 327 SEM Racial and Religious Mixture

Last offered Spring 2020

The very term "mixture" implies that two or more distinct substances have been brought together. Distinctions of race and religion are social fictions; yet, the lived ramifications of these social fictions involve tense struggles over the boundaries of racial and religious communities. These boundaries are not just ideas but also practices. In the history of the Americas, mixed racial and religious identities and experiences have more often been the result of violent clashes than romantic encounters. Still, the romanticization of the New World as a geography that makes such mixtures possible reaches back to the earliest days of Spanish conquest in the Americas. This course critically reconsiders varying ways that racial and religious mixtures have been imagined, defined, challenged, negotiated, and survived under imaginative and legal rubrics of mestizaje, creolization, transculturation, passing, syncretism, religious hybridity, and mixed race studies. [ more ]

LATS 330 SEM DNA + Latinx: Decoding the "Cosmic Race"

Last offered Spring 2023

Scientists working to assemble maps of the human genome have found a goldmine in the DNA of Latinx, Latin American, and other populations that derive ancestry from multiple continents. This interdisciplinary course explores Latinidades through a genealogical lens: What culture-specific issues emerge around history, identity, ethics, forensics, immigration, commerce, surveillance, art, science, and medicine? Through discussion, materials, and activities that engage personal, historical, and scientific perspectives, this course offers students the opportunity to explore the many codes embedded in the double-helix. Readings include scholarship out of Stanford University's Bustamante Lab, The Cosmic Race by José Vasconcelos, The Cosmic Serpent by Jeremy Narby, Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina by Raquel Cepeda, and The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome by Alondra Nelson. [ more ]

LATS 335(S) LEC Contemporary Immigration Landscapes: Producing Difference and Value in Migration

What is the relationship between racial formations, transnational migrations, and power? How do geometries of power shape our relationship to place? This course examines geographies of transnational migration, bringing together insights from critical race theory, queer theory, Indigenous studies, and postcolonial theories to enrich our understanding of human geography. We will look at the use of ethnic and racial formations as a bridge between cultural and political geography in the contemporary US immigration landscape. Through an interdisciplinary exploration of 'migration,' we will examine the depth and range of migrants' experiences and how these communities' lives are structured through various axes of difference, such as race, gender, sexuality, class, and documentation status. We will consider how gender and sexuality structure racial formations and determine notions of value. We will give attention to the variegated landscape of immigration enforcement and its relationship to issues of labor, political economy, and environmental justice, among others. Through materials that embrace both historical and contemporary perspectives, this course will help students develop a critical understanding of how space matters when considering transnational processes of migration as well as migrant communities' cultural place-making practices throughout the US. This course asks students to compare and contrast the intellectual genealogies covered and apply these theories of transnational racial formations to case studies that focus on political interventions for social justice (such as UndocuQueers in the immigrant justice movement). [ more ]

LATS 338 SEM Latina/o/x Musical Cultures: Sounding Out Gender, Race, and Sexuality

Last offered Spring 2019

In this class we will investigate a wide variety of Latina/o/x popular musical forms, with particular attention to issues of gender, sexuality, and ethno-racial identity. Employing interdisciplinary materials and approaches, this course focuses on the sonic and visual analysis of contemporary Latina/o/x popular music and the identities of its producers, performers, and audiences. We will focus on the following questions, among others: How are hybrid Latina/o/x identities expressed through popular music and dance? In what ways do gender, sexuality, and ethno-racial identity inform the performance and interpretation of particular Latina/o musical forms? What unique role does sound play in our understanding of popular music and identity? [ more ]

LATS 341(F) SEM Performing Masculinity in Global Popular Culture

This course examines popular cultural contexts, asking what it means to be a man in contemporary societies. We focus on the manufacture and marketing of masculinity in advertising, fashion, TV/film, theater, popular music, and the shifting contours of masculinity in everyday life, asking: how does political economy change the ideal shape, appearance, and performance of men? How have products - ranging from beer to deodorant to cigarettes -- had their use value articulated in gendered ways? Why must masculinity be the purview of "males" at all; how can we change discourses to better include performances of female masculinities, butch-identified women, and trans men? We will pay particular attention to racialized, queer, and subaltern masculinities. Some of our case studies include: the short half-life of the boy band in the US and in Asia, hip hop masculinities, and the curious blend of chastity and homoeroticism that constitutes masculinity in the contemporary vampire genre. Through these and other examples, we learn to recognize masculinity as a performance shaped by the political economy of a given culture. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

LATS 344(S) SEM Marking Presence: Reading (Dis)ability in/to Latinx Media

This course explores the intersection of (dis)ability and Latinx identity in the contemporary US context. Employing Angharad Valdivia's (2020) notion of "marking presence" to describe the intentional ways in which Latinx subjects gain and hold on to mainstream media space, the class places the fields of Disability Studies, Latinx Studies, Gender Studies and Media Studies into conversation. We address the following questions and others: What does media reveal to us about the place of (dis)ability and Latinidad in contemporary US life, particularly as these categories intersect with questions of gender, sexuality, national identity and citizenship? How might we read Latinidad and (dis)ability into media texts in which they are not otherwise centered? What are the advantages of deploying mainstream media presence as a claim to power for disabled Latinx individuals, particularly those who are multiply marginalized? What are the limitations of such an approach? We will focus on these questions, as well as deploy various media examples (podcasts, social media, film, television and music) alongside scholarly texts to explore topics impacting the Latinx communities such as the relationship between the relationship between immigration and (dis)ability, intergenerational trauma and migration, the gendered archetype of the Latina "Loca," (dis)ability in academia, the politics of self-care amongst Latinxs in the neoliberal context, and the very legal, cultural, and social category of "(dis)abled" itself within dominant society as well as in Latinx communities. [ more ]

LATS 346 SEM Latinas/os and the Media: From Production to Consumption

Last offered Fall 2020

This interdisciplinary course focuses on the areas of Latina/o media production, policy, content, and consumption in an attempt to answer the following questions, among others: How do Latinas/os construct identity (and have their identities constructed for them) through the media? How can we best understand the complex relationship between consumer, producer, and media text? How are Latina/o stereotypes constructed and circulated in mass media? Where do issues of Latina/o consumer agency come into play? In what ways does popular media impact our understanding of ethno-racial identities, gender, sexuality, class, language, and nation? [ more ]

LATS 348 SEM Drawing Democracy: Graphic Narratives as Democratic Ideals

Last offered Spring 2022

This course examines the graphic narrative in terms of how each author/illustrator employs narrative elements (plotting, structure, characterization, text, and visuals) to express social realities within the context of democratic ideals. Regular assignments and in-class exercises throughout the course offer students the opportunity to create their own graphic narratives. [ more ]

LATS 385 SEM Latinx Activism: From the Local to the Transnational

Last offered Fall 2022

Latinas/os/x's have long sought inclusion in the U.S. polity and society, while the meanings of inclusion and the means to achieve it have shifted historically. For Latinxs, activism is often shaped by the specific dynamics of each group's migration to the United States and by their arrival into a particular context. Home country politics and transnational connections can remain important. Yet local activism to meet immediate needs and to address critical issues becomes important as well. Working within existing structures, Latinx communities have at times questioned and challenged those existing structures, as activists have addressed a wide variety of often intersecting issues. This course roots itself in the historical progression of Puerto Rican and Mexican-American activism, before turning to the social and political movements of the late 1960s and 1970s, as shaped by Puerto Ricans, Chicanos/as, Cubans, and Dominicans. The 1980s witnessed increased immigration from several Central and South American countries, arriving in the context of reactions to those political and social movements, as well as increased U.S. intervention in their countries of origin--a context that again shaped both local and transnational activism. Students' final projects will be anchored within this historical framing and within the lens of local and transnational activism, while moving forward in time to consider more contemporary dimensions of Latinx activism. [ more ]

LATS 386 SEM Latinas in the Global Economy: Work, Migration, and Households

Last offered Spring 2019

An increasingly global economy, from 1945 to the present, has affected Latinas in their home countries and in the United States. The garment industry, one of the first industries to go global, has relied extensively on Latina workers in their home countries and in the United States. Domestic work, a traditional field of women's work, also crosses borders. Challenging the myth that labor migration is a male phenomenon and that women simply follow the men, this course explores how the global economy makes Latinas labor migrants. What impact has the global economy and economic development had on Latinas' work and their households in their home countries? How have economic changes and government policies shaped Latinas' migrations and their incorporation in the changing U.S. economy? How have Puerto Rican, Mexican, Cuban, Dominican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan women confronted the challenges created by a globalizing economy and balanced demands to meet their households' needs? [ more ]

LATS 398 IND Independent Study: Latina/o Studies

Last offered Spring 2022

Latina/o Studies independent study. [ more ]

LATS 403 SEM New Asian American, African American, Native American, and Latina/o Writing

Last offered Spring 2020

The most exciting and forward-thinking writing in the English language today is being done by formally experimental writers of color. Their texts push the boundaries of aesthetic form while simultaneously engaging questions of culture, politics, and history. This course argues not only for the centrality of minority experimental work to English literature but a fundamental rethinking of English literary studies so as to confront the field's imbedded assumptions about race, a legacy of British colonialism, and to make the idea of the aesthetic more open to ideas generated in critical race studies, diaspora studies, American studies, and those fields that grapple more directly with history and politics. In the critical realms of English, work by minority writers is often relegated to its own segregated spaces, categorized by ethnic identity, or tokenized as "add-ons" to more "central" or "fundamental" categories of literature (such as Modernism, poetics, the avant-garde). Recent work by Asian American, African American, Native American and Latino/a writers challenges our assumptions and preconceptions about ethnic literature, American literature, English literature, formal experimentation, genre categorization, and so on. This writing forces us to examine our received notions about literature, literary methodologies, and race. Close reading need not be opposed to critical analyses of ideologies. Formal experimentation need not be opposed to racial identity nor should it be divorced from history and politics, even, or especially, a radical politics. [ more ]

LATS 409 SEM Transnationalism and Difference: Comparative Perspectives

Last offered Fall 2021

In the age of digital communications and mobile applications such as WhatsApp and Skype, transnational living has rapidly emerged as the norm as opposed to the exception. However, what does it really mean to "be transnational"? How are the lived experiences of transnational individuals and communities shaped by categories of difference such as gender, ethno-racial identity, sexuality, and class? What impacts do the growing number of transnational citizens and residents in the U.S. have on our understanding of "American" identity in the local, national, and global contexts? In this interdisciplinary seminar we will analyze recent theories regarding the origins and impacts of transnationalism. Particular attention will be paid throughout the semester to the intersections of gender, ethno-racial identity, sexuality, and class in connection with everyday transnational dynamics. The broad range of case studies examined includes Central American, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mexico, the Middle East, and Peru. [ more ]

LATS 410 SEM Arquivistas: An Archival Storytelling Course

Last offered Fall 2022

Archival storytelling: the "creative practice of resurfacing hidden, untapped, and untold historical treasures and reimagining that content in various storytelling presentations that speak to modern-day audiences" (Arbo Radiko). In this generative writing and critical-practice course, students explore/inhabit the role of writers and storytellers as preservers of history and culture. With a focus on documenting and/or reimagining Latinidades, the course invites students to address: the unique narrative forms archives may take beyond collections of artifacts; how archives can inform the creation--and definition--of literary work; the relationship between archives and power; information the archivist/storyteller may choose to include or omit, reveal or conceal; how the archivist/storyteller might practice what scholars Michelle Caswell and Marika Cifor call "radical empathy," one that takes into account the diverse affective roles and responsibilities of the: archivist, records creator, records subject, records user, and community member. The course is designed to help students address the above through assignments that build towards final projects. Through the creative process, students learn to: research, compile, and analyze materials from various open-access repositories; identify and write emergent stories from collected material; and present these stories to the public using narrative elements and tools in the digital humanities. Projects may include virtual exhibits, data stories, annotated maps, historical fiction, ekphrastic poetry, finding aids, and interactive timelines. Projects may also examine the Latinx experience on campus, building on archival efforts initiated by students for the LATS Program 15th Anniversary Exhibit at Williams College Library. [ more ]

LATS 420 SEM Latinx Ecologies

Last offered Spring 2020

An August 2015 Latino Decisions poll found that Latinxs, more than other ethnic groups in the U.S.A., are deeply concerned about climate change and the "environment". How and why might some Latinxs be disproportionately impacted by climate change? How have a few distinct Latinx theorists and activists imagined and constructed ecology? How are struggles for environmental justice related to broader Latinx concerns with and constructions of place? This seminar will examine a few moments in distinct Latinx histories and geographies such as California migrant farmworkers and the struggle over pesticides, urban movements over waste management such as the Young Lords' garbage offensive, food justice movements and urban gardening, as well as literary and theological representations of affective and sacred ecologies such as Helena María Viramontes' Their Dogs Came With Them and Ecuadoran-U.S. ecofeminist Jeanette Rodríguez's theological texts. Evaluation will be based on class participation, presentations, annotated bibliography, short writing assignments, writing workshop participation, and a final 20-page research paper. [ more ]

LATS 421(F) SEM Latinx Geographies

This research seminar examines the history, framework, and scholarship of the growing field of Latinx Geographies within the context of interdisciplinary Latine Studies. This course explores the perspectives, experiences, spatial politics, and place-making practices of Latines to consider their relationship to the built environment. We will examine recent theories regarding space, place, and race; explore them through various Latinx positionalities, such as gender, sexuality, class, and citizenship status; and apply them to literary and media representations of Latine spaces and places, such as the US-Mexico borderlands, barrios, and rural fields. We will consider how undocumented queer and trans migrants have become prominent political actors in social movements, how migration, race, and the environment interact in pollution and activism, how undocumented women negotiate motherhood, how non-profit organizations market Latinidad for infrastructural development, and more. In this interdisciplinary and comparative course, students will be exposed to the genealogy of Latinx Geography, which finds its genesis embedded in Black Geography, Queer (Women) of Color Critique, Latinx Studies, and Ethnic Studies. Students will learn a geographical vernacular to think and articulate spatially in the social sciences and humanities, as they develop their own research projects. Collectively, we will interrogate case studies of Latines in the built environment to make visible how race and space are fundamental tenets of a Latinx geographical analysis. Students will select a research topic and develop their own research project independently and through coursework. Evaluation will be based on class participation, leading discussion, presentations, research proposal, annotated bibliography, short writing assignments, writing workshop participation, and a final 20-page research paper. [ more ]

LATS 426 TUT Queer Temporalities

Last offered Spring 2017

Birth, childhood, adolescence, college, adulthood, career, marriage, family, mid-life, old age, death, afterlife. How are all these facets of being human imagined as stages in time, as axes on certain progressive lines that delineate human social relations? How do we experience and represent time, and what factors might account for both our experiences and our representations? What are some of the ways that people experience and mark the passing of time? What are some of the different ways that people have made sense of time and themselves in time? How have our conceptions of time and our demarcations of lifecycles shifted historically? How do people whose experiences do not align with dominant cultural social stages negotiate ideas of lifecycle and timing? Especially for individuals and peoples who have been denied self-representation and narratives of place, how do competing notions of time, history, space, and location get negotiated? In this course, drawing from within the broad corpus of queer theory (including theorists such as Gloria Anzaldúa, Elizabeth Freeman, J. Halberstam, and José Esteban Muñoz) we will examine some non-linear, non-normative, and interruptive approaches to making sense of time, space-time, and self within time. [ more ]

LATS 470(S) SEM Latinx Migrations: Stories and Histories

Latinx migration histories are often told with sweeping data and within broad historical contexts. While these are important, the voices of the people leaving their home countries and coming to the United States can be lost or buried. During the 1970s, the emerging subfield of social history asserted the need to craft histories that took into consideration the everyday lives of everyday people. Oral history emerged a key tool in capturing the personal stories too often missed in historical archives. At the same time, Puerto Rican Studies, Chicano Studies, and later, Latinx Studies emerged to tell the histories of groups too often omitted from or misrepresented in the scholarship. These fields relied on traditions of testimonios or storytelling. This course focuses on Latinx oral histories, autobiographies, memoirs, testimonios, and other first-person narratives to explore how people are impacted by and experience those broad historical contexts, as well as how the decisions they make and the actions they take shape those broad historical contexts. As Latinx Studies is a field that has been at the forefront of exploring intersectionality, we also analyze how attention to first person narratives and lived experiences reveal the complexities of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class, as well as other visible and invisible markers of difference. Examining first person narratives in the context of specific Latinx groups in particular historical, geographical, and social contexts, we interrogate the methodological and interpretive challenges of working with oral histories and other first-person primary sources. Course topics include the gendered dimensions of migration, geopolitics and stories of exile, and the connections between lived experiences and political activism, particularly the feminist activism of the late 1960s and 1970s-- all while students develop and share their own research topics. [ more ]

LATS 471 SEM Comparative Latina/o Migrations

Last offered Spring 2019

Since the 1970s, policymakers, scholars, the media, and popular discourses have used the umbrella terms "Hispanic" and "Latina/o" to refer to Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans and more recent immigrants from Central and South American countries. As a form of racial/ethnic categorization, however, these umbrella terms can mask widely divergent migration histories and experiences in the United States. In this course, we develop theoretical perspectives and comparative analyses to untangle a complicated web of similarities and differences among Latino groups. How important were their time of arrival and region of settlement? How do we explain differences in socioeconomic status? How fruitful and appropriate are comparative analyses with other racial/ethnic groups, such as African Americans or European immigrants? Along the way, we explore the emergence of Latina/o Studies as an interdisciplinary and comparative field of study, as well as methods used in Latino and Latina history, specifically oral histories, government documents, newspapers, and interdisciplinary approaches. [ more ]

LATS 493(F) HON Senior Honors Thesis: Latina/o Studies

Students beginning their thesis work in the fall must register for this course and subsequentially for LATS 31 during Winter Study. [ more ]

LATS 494(S) HON Senior Honors Thesis: Latina/o Studies

Students beginning their thesis work in Winter Study must register for this course. [ more ]