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)Latina/o Identities: Constructions, Contestations, and Expressions

What, or who, is a Hispanic or Latina/o? At present, individuals living in the United States who are classified as such number approximately 57 million, constituting the country's largest "minority" group. In this course, we will study the interdisciplinary field that has emerged in response to this growing population, as we focus on the complex nature of "identity." Viewing identities as historically and socially constructed, we begin with a brief assessment of how racial, ethnic, class, and gendered identities take shape in the Hispanic Caribbean and Latin America. We then examine the impact of (im)migration and the rearticulation of identities in the United States, as we compare each group's unique history, settlement patterns, and transnational activity. 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. In this light, we conclude the course with an exploration of these diverse expressions as they relate to questions of class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and national origins. [ more ]

LATS 106 T(S)Coming of Age in the City: Growing up and Growing Older in Communities of Color

This tutorial examines urban life in communities of color through the lens of aging. We will focus on the political and economic dimensions of cities that have profoundly affected the daily collective lives of certain populations from childhood to elderhood. In so doing, we will also consider how age and age relations are highly differentiated by race, class, and gender, as well as how cities are organized and arranged to create and recreate categories and ideas associated with age. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

LATS 112(F)Caribbean Diasporic Aesthetics: An Introduction

This course explores how aesthetics can serve as an organizing principle for the critique, analysis, and theorizing of racial and diasporic formations across the 20th century, with a specific focus on Caribbean diasporic populations and their cultural production. We will think about aesthetics as literary, visual, and sonic representations authored by and about communities of color in response to the uneven processes of racialization, migration, colonization, and nation-state formation that inflect how identity is shaped and experienced across time and space. Engaging the work of artists like Hew Locke, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Kara Walker, and Miguel Luciano in conversation with Stuart Hall, José Quiroga, Krista Thompson, and Michelle Ann Stephens among others will illuminate these inquiries. The circuits of culture, goods, ideas, labor, and peoples that flow between the archipelagos of the Caribbean and the metropoles such as Miami, New York, and London will serve as critical sites to map our interventions. [ more ]

LATS 203(F)Chicana/o Film and Video

Hollywood cinema has long been fascinated with the border between the United States and Mexico. This course will examine representations of the U.S.-Mexico border, Mexican Americans, and Chicana/os in both Hollywood film and independent media. We will consider how positions on nationalism, race, gender, identity, migration, and history are represented and negotiated through film. We will begin by analyzing Hollywood "border" and gang films before approaching Chicana/o-produced features, independent narratives, and experimental work. This course will explore issues of film and ideology, genre and representation, nationalist resistance and feminist critiques, queer theory and the performative aspects of identity.Through a focus on Chicana/o representation, the course explores a wide spectrum of film history (from the silent era to the present) and considers numerous genres. [ more ]

LATS 208Introduction to Latina/o Literatures

Last offered Fall 2015

This discussion course serves as an introduction; the reading list is not meant to be exhaustive or comprehensive, but will rather provide a sampling or range of texts for students to engage. We will explore a number of readings across different genres (the novel, play, poem, short story, graphic novel). Students will endeavor to understand how each author defines Latinidad. What characterizes Latina/os for each of these writers and how do their works articulate the historical conditions out of which they emerge? How is Latina/o literature marked by notions of language, nationality, gender, sexuality, class, race, politics, form, and genre? The readings will provide both a survey of general ideas in the study of Latina/o literatures as well as specific case studies and historical examples from which we will extrapolate about the larger field. Readings include works by Tómas Rivera, Cristina García, Cristy C. Road, Oscar Zeta Acosta, Junot Díaz, Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, and more. [ more ]

LATS 220Introduction to Urban Studies: Shaping and Living the City

Last offered Fall 2017

Generally, cities have been described either as vibrant commercial and cultural centers or as violent and decaying urban slums. In an effort to begin to think more critically about cities, this course introduces important topics in the interdisciplinary field of Urban Studies. Specifically, we will discuss concepts and theories used to examine the peoples and structures that make up cities: In what ways do socio-cultural, economic, and political factors affect urban life and development? How are cities planned and used by various stakeholders (politicians, developers, businesses, and residents)? How do people make meaning of the places they inhabit? We will pay particular attention to the roles of race, ethnicity, class, and gender in understanding and interpreting urban communities. Texts include works by anthropologists, historians, sociologists, cultural critics, cultural geographers, and literary writers. [ more ]

LATS 222(F, S)Ficciones: A Writing Workshop

This course is focused on the art and practice of writing fiction. Sessions are divided into workshop and seminar. Workshop: Students will present short fiction or novel excerpts for peer critique and the editorial advice of the instructor. Seminar: We will study published fiction by Latina/o, Latin American, Afro-Diasporic, and other writers, 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 further strengthen their narrative skills. [ more ]

LATS 224U.S. Latinx Religions

Last offered Spring 2018

In this course, we will engage aspects of Latinx religious experiences, practices, and expressions in the United States of America. We examine moments where religious expressions intersect with politics, popular culture, and daily life in the U.S.A. Given the plurality of Latinx communities and religious lives in the U.S.A., we will engage certain selected religious traditions and practices --such as popular Catholic devotions to Guadalupe, crypto-Judaism, curanderismo, Latinx Muslims, and Santería--by focusing on particular moments of religious expression as elucidated in specific historiographies, ethnographies, art, literature, and film. We will also consider, though more briefly, questions of how one studies Latinx religions. [ more ]

LATS 227Utopias and Americas

Last offered Spring 2012

Where does the term "new world" come from? What do we mean by "utopia," "utopian," and "utopianism?" What relationships exist between the people who imagine utopias and the lands they inhabit? This course considers the relationship between utopian imaginations and the imaginations of the lands and peoples in the Western hemisphere. We will spend some time studying utopian theory, ancient proto-utopias, and utopias in Latin America, though our main focus will be on particular examples of utopianism in the U.S.A. We will attend to particular instances of utopian social dreaming that re-imagine time, space, environment, gender, family, education, and power. While the U.S.A. is the main focus of the class, students are encouraged to pursue and bring to class utopian perspectives from other parts of the Americas. Students are also strongly encouraged to take questions from class and engage utopian images not listed on this syllabus but pertinent to our classroom learning. [ more ]

LATS 228Revolt 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 231Approaches 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 232We the People in the Stacks: Democracy and Literatures of Archives

Last offered Spring 2018

"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 This literature and writing course will examine the concept of archives through the lens of democratic ideals. A primary focus will be on how works of literature engage archives--their creation and deletions, their contents and omissions, their revelations and concealments. We will also look at the lives of archivists like Arturo Alfonso Schomburg. Readings include: "The Library of Babel" by Jorge Luis Borges; Important Artifacts and Personal Property From the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry by Leanne Shapton; and All the Names by José Saramago. Drawing from the values explored in class, students will have opportunities to contribute to existing archives and to curate their own. [ more ]

LATS 240(S)Latina/o Language Politics: Hybrid Voices

In this course we will focus on issues of language and identity in the contemporary cultural production and lived experience of various Latina/o communities. As such, how are cultural values and material conditions expressed through Latina/o language and literature? How does Latina/o identity challenge traditional notions of the relationship between language, culture, and nation? In what ways might Latina/o literary and linguistic practices serve as tools for social change? Departing from an overview of common linguistic phenomena such as code-switching (popularly known as "Spanglish") and Latina/o English, we will examine bilingual education, recent linguistic legislation, and the English Only movement. Throughout the course we will survey texts culled from a variety of literary genres as well, including theatre, autobiography, novels, and poetry. Both directly and/or indirectly, these texts address Latina/o language politics, as well as the broader themes of power, community, ethno-racial identity, gender, sexuality, class, and hybridity. [ more ]

LATS 241Performing Masculinity in Global Popular Culture

Last offered Fall 2017

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 (e.g., J/K-Pop), hip hop masculinities at home and abroad, 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. The course includes a field trip to a drag performance in Northampton. [ more ]

LATS 246Aesthetics and Place-making in Latina/o New York

Last offered Spring 2018

New York City has long served as a nexus of Latina/o migration and settlement since the late nineteenth century. From the New York sound of Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican salsa to the poetics of slam poetry forged in the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, New York's Latinas/os have defined and developed numerous forms of Latina/o popular expression. This course examines the aesthetic foundations of Latina/o New York, remaining attentive to the numerous diasporas that have migrated to and made the city their home. Student will engage with a multiplicity of popular cultural genres including memoirs, literature, poetry, sound, visual art, and photography in the context of the history of the city while focusing on key themes of racial formation, the politics of space and place, and the labor of culture. [ more ]

LATS 247Race and Religion in the American West

Last offered Spring 2017

From the "Land of Enchantment" of New Mexico in the far reaches of the desert to the sacred temples on the West Coast that overlook Pacific Ocean, this course examines the peoples and the "sacroscapes" of the American West. Historian Patricia Limerick regards this region as an extraordinary site of convergence and one of "the greatest meeting places on the planet." The region is a site of cultural complexity where Penitentes maintained a sacred order, Pentecostals attracted a global audience, Native Americans forged legal/protected definitions of "religion," and Asian immigrants built the first Buddhist and Sikh temples. Until recently, standard surveys of religious history in North America have devoted minimal attention to the distinctive role of religion in the American West. They have focused on religious history in the flow of events westward from the Plymouth Rock landing and Puritan establishment while generally overlooking the Pueblo Revolt in modern-day New Mexico which occurred in that same century and marked the temporary suspension of Spanish encroachment. How do scholars of religion and history account for these renditions between the past and present? Most mainstream religious histories treat religious experience and identity in the U.S. West as additive rather than complementary to or constitutive of its mainstream narratives. Contemporary historians of religion note the need for new "sights," "cites," and "sites" in order to deconstruct and reconstruct this incomplete meta-narrative, taking into account such factors as migration, gender, region, and the environment. [ more ]

LATS 252(S)Puerto Rico and its Diaspora

On September 20, 2018, Maria---a category four hurricane¿made landfall on Puerto Rico. The most powerful storm to hit the island since 1932, Maria caused widespread catastrophic damage on a land already suffering from the devastating effects of a decades-long economic recession. Three months after the hurricane, half the island remained without power, water service yet to be reestablished in many areas, and aid distribution inadequate and inconsistent. The hurricane and its aftermath brought mainstream U.S. attention to Puerto Rico and its diaspora, while simultaneously calling attention to the island's status and relationship to the United States. This hybrid onsite-Skype-travel course is for students interested in learning about the historical, social, and political relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States. We will examine, for example, the political status of Puerto Rico, migration, race, social movements, and expressive cultural forms that have emerged as a result of this asymmetrical relationship. Through the study of the impact and legacy of U.S. policies on the island, we will also consider how the fiscal and humanitarian crisis and proposed solutions affect the daily collective lives of the people in the U.S. territory and the diaspora. This course is a unique collaboration between Vassar, Williams, and the UPR. To enroll in this course, students must commit to participating in an alternative spring break/community engagement project in Puerto Rico and flexible with possible changes in class time when Skyping with students from the University of Puerto Rico. We will gather in Puerto Rico to meet with peers from UPR and for an alternative spring break collaboration, interfacing with various community organizations that have taken up vital social, medical, and economic roles vacated by the United States. Taller Salud, PECES, and Casa Pueblo are among the organizations in Puerto Rico that students may work with as a part of the course's community engagement component. [ more ]

LATS 286(F)Latina/o History, 1848 to the Present

From 1848 to the present, Latina/o communities have taken shape in the United States through conquest and migration. Why and when have distinct Latina/o groups come to have sizeable communities in different regions of the United States? U.S. imperialism and foreign policies, as well military, political and economic ties between the United States and the various countries of origin define the political and economic contexts in which people leave their homes to come to the United States. In their search for low-wage labor, U.S. employers have recruited workers from Latin America and the Hispanic Caribbean. Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, and Salvadorans, as well as others, have responded to labor recruitment and have also relied on networks of family and friends to seek a better life in the United States. What do the histories of these distinct Latina/o groups share and where do their experiences diverge? [ more ]

LATS 306Queer of Color Critique: Race, Sex and Urban Life

Last offered Spring 2015

This seminar is an introduction to queer of color critique, a field of scholarship that seeks to intervene in the predominantly white canon of queer studies. We will examine the history of this line of critique, beginning with Black and Chicana feminisms and extending into present day issues and activism highlighting intersectionality, exploring how and why QOCC became a necessary intervention into the then still emerging field of queer studies. Our texts include scholarly works as well as science fiction novels, plays, films, diaries, and graphic novels. Methodologically, we draw on many fields of study, including anthropology, literary studies, feminist studies, and ethnic studies. We focus primarily but by no means exclusively on US contexts, paying particular attention to the role that urban environments have served for queer communities of color. Topics include: feminisms of color, inter-racial desire and fetishization, orientalism and colonial fantasy, black queer science fiction, transgender subjectivities, and the political economy of sexual desire. A key feature of this course will also be the inclusion of numerous and diverse authors to appear on Skype or in person to answer questions about their work as we read it in class. [ more ]

LATS 309 TScriptures 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 312Chicago

Last offered Spring 2018

"The city of big shoulders has plenty of room for diversity," reads the official visitor's website for the City of Chicago. Focusing on this claim, this course asks students to think critically about what kind room has been made for diversity--social, spatial, and ideological. Additionally we examine the ways in which diverse social actors have shouldered their way into the imagined and physical landscape of the city. Working with ethnography, history, literature, critical essays, and popular culture, we will explore the material and discursive constructions of Chi-Town and urban life among its residents. Appreciating these constructions we also consider how Chicago has served as a key site for understandings of urbanity within a broader national and global context. [ more ]

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

This course focuses on the politics of personal style among women of color in an era of viral video clips, the 24-hour news cycle, and e-commerce sites dedicated to the dermatological concerns of "minority" females. With a comparative, transnational emphasis on the ways in which gender, sexuality, ethno-racial identity, and class inform standards of beauty, we will examine a variety of materials including commercial websites, histories, personal narratives, ethnographies, sociological case studies, and feminist theory. Departing from the assumption that personal aesthetics are intimately tied to issues of power and privilege, we will engage the following questions: What are the everyday functions of personal style among women of color? Is it feasible to assert that an easily identifiable "African American," "Latina," "Arab American" or "Asian American" female aesthetic exists? What role do transnational media play in the development and circulation of popular aesthetic forms? How might the belief in personal style as activist strategy challenge traditional understandings of feminist political activity? [ more ]

LATS 316(F)The Graphic Narrative: A "Global South" Perspective

"[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 318California: Myths, Peoples, Places

Last offered Fall 2016

Crosslisting Between Paradise and Hell, between environmental disaster and agricultural wonderland, between Reagan and Berkeley, between a land of all nations and a land of multiracial enmity, a diversity of myths have been inscribed onto and pursued within the space we call California. How did certain narratives of California come to be, who has imagined California in certain ways, and why? What is the relationship between certain myths, the peoples who have imagined them, and the other peoples who have shared California dreams? In this course, we will examine some of the myths that surround California by looking at a few specific moments of interaction between the peoples who have come to make California home and the specific places in which they have interacted with each other. Of special interest will be imaginations of the Spanish missions, the Gold Rush, agricultural California, wilderness California, California as "sprawling multicultural dystopia," and California as "west of the west." [ more ]

LATS 330(S)DNA + Latinx: Decoding the "Cosmic Race"

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. In this interdisciplinary course, we will explore Latinidades through a genealogical lens: What culture-specific issues emerge around history, identity, ethics, forensics, immigration, commerce, surveillance, art, science, and medicine? Readings will include 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 335Race, Gender, and Performance from Literature to Social Media

Last offered Spring 2016

How can contemporary performance expand ideas and practices of belonging in the United States, as figured through race, gender, and sexuality? This spring course will begin with readings of dramatic literature including Suzan-Lori Parks's Venus, David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly, and Young Jean Lee's The Shipment to analyze literary and staged performance, then continue to discussions and readings on the performance of everyday life via the work of performance artists including Adrian Piper, Nao Bustamante, and Yoko Ono. We will develop shared vocabulary and methodologies of performance studies, including readings by scholars including J.L. Austin, Judith Butler, and José Esteban Muñoz. This course will engage foundational texts to performance studies and offer an interdisciplinary approach to scholarship in gender and sexuality studies, critical ethnic studies, and performance studies from the 1970s to the present. This course recognizes a suspicion for diversity discourses that universalize human experience and asks: how do we resist normativizing forces without reinforcing the regulating logics of those forces? [ more ]

LATS 338(S)Latina/o Musical Cultures: Sounding out Gender, Race, and Sexuality

In this class we will investigate a wide variety of Latina/o popular musical and dance forms, with particular emphasis on questions 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 popular music and the identities of its producers, performers, and audiences. We will focus on the following questions, among others: How are the various facets of Latina/o 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 340(S)U.S. Afro-Latinidades

This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to examine the history, lived experiences, and cultural productions of Afro-Latinx in the United States. Discussions in the course will center on three related questions: What is Afro-Latinidad? How does Blackness in Latin America differ from its articulation among Afro-Latinx in the United States? And, how have migration and sociopolitical processes impacted the lives of U.S. Afro-Latinx and our collective understanding of Afro-Latinidad? Throughout the course, we will draw on literature in the social sciences and humanities to examine the transnational nature of race and Blackness across the Americas, as well as the intersection between these identities and gender, sexuality, and class. We will also examine several media and cultural productions of U.S. Afro-Latinx (poems, novels, documentary films, blogs, and social media sites) and critically analyze their articulation of the Afro-Latinx experience. [ more ]

LATS 346(F)Latinas/os and the Media: From Production to Consumption

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 348Graphic Narratives as Democratic Ideals

Last offered Fall 2017

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. The primary focus will be on texts that explore themes of democracy and Latinidades. We will also discuss the "graphic activism" of artists like Sharon Lee De La Cruz of Digital Citizens Lab, a design collective with a focus on civic technology. Throughout the course, students will have the opportunity to create their own graphic narratives, either digitally or in print. Possible guest speaker: comic book artist Ivan Vélez (Planet Bronx, 2015 Creative Capital Award in Visual Arts). [ more ]

LATS 358Latina/o Installation and Site-Specific Art

Last offered Spring 2018

This course will explore the various forms of installation and site-specific artworks created by Latina/o artists for both museums and public space. We will examine the ways in which Latina/o artists have used space as a material in the production of artworks and how this impacts the works' meanings and the viewer's experience. Within the context of U.S. Latina/o culture and history, we will connect notions of space with ideas about cultural citizenship, civil rights, and social justice. A variety of art forms will be studied, from traditional to experimental, including murals, sculpture, performance, video, and several multimedia, interactive, or participatory projects. While establishing a historical lineage and theoretical frameworks for analyzing this growing genre, we will pay particular attention to how these works engage urban space and often challenge the institutional assumptions of museums and curatorial practice. Likewise, we will examine the important debates associated with various public art and museum installation controversies. [ more ]

LATS 385(S)Politics, Activism, and Everyday Life: Latinas/os in New York City and the Northeast

This course explores how everyday life has shaped the politics and activism of Latinas/os in New York City and the Northeast from the post-World War II era to the present. Arriving in larger numbers in the 1940s and 1950s, Puerto Ricans sought to define a place for themselves in the region. In ensuing decades, Cubans, Dominicans, Central and South Americans, and Mexicans increasingly settled in the city and the region. Addressing the issues stemming from their everyday lives, politics and activism took a wide variety of forms from community building to meet immediate needs, to social service approaches and community-based organizing during the War on Poverty in the early 1960s, to the radical political and social movements of the late 1960s and the 1970s, to electoral politics throughout the decades to the present. Activists organized around a wide variety of often intersecting issues including education, workers' rights, women's rights and feminism, legal status, and LBGTQ+ visibility and rights. At times, politics and activism were rooted in one national origin group, while other efforts were intentionally and explicitly Latinx. This course will draw on autobiographies and other primary materials, as well as documentaries to help in making the connections between everyday life and politics. For final projects, students will have the option of delving deeper into autobiographies and other narrative sources OR of engaging in community based learning throughout the semester and using these experiences as the foundation for their final projects. [ more ]

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

Last offered Fall 2017

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

Last offered Spring 2013

Critics reading minority writing often focus on its thematic--i.e., sociological--content. Such literature is usually presumed to be inseparable from the "identity"/body of the writer and read as autobiographical, ethnographic, representational, exotic. At the other end of the spectrum, avant-garde writing is seen to concern itself "purely" with formal questions, divorced from the socio-historical (and certainly not sullied by the taint of race). In the critical realm we currently inhabit, in which "race" is opposed to the "avant-garde," an experimental minority writer can indeed seem an oxymoron. In this class we will closely read recent work by Asian American, African American, Native American and Latino/a writers which challenges preconceptions about ethnic literature, avant-garde writing, genre categorization, among other things. The writing done by these mostly young, mostly urban, poets and fiction writers is some of the most exciting being written in the United States today; their texts push the boundaries of aesthetic form while simultaneously engaging questions of culture, politics, and history. Reading them forces us to re-think our received notions about literature. Authors to be read include Will Alexander, Sherwin Bitsui, Monica de la Torre, Sesshu Foster, Renee Gladman, Bhanu Kapil, Tan Lin, Tao Lin, Ed Roberson, James Thomas Stevens, Roberto Tejada, and Edwin Torres. [ more ]

LATS 408(F)Envisioning Urban Life: Objects, Subjects, and Everyday People

What is the relationship between real life in urban communities and the multiple ways in which they are imagined? What does it mean to be "urban," to live in an "urban community," or to be the product of an "urban environment"? Who do we think the people are who populate these spaces? This course takes a critical look at specific populations, periods, and problems that have come to dominate and characterize our conceptions of the quality, form, and function of U.S. urban life. A few of the topics we may cover include historical accounts of the varied ways in which poverty and "urban culture" have been studied; race, class, and housing; the spatial practices of urban youth and the urban elderly; and gendered perspectives on social mobility and community activism. Finally, this course will explore how diverse social actors negotiate responses to their socio-spatial and economic circumstances, and, in the process, help envision and create different dimensions of the urban experience. [ more ]

LATS 409Transnationalism and Difference: Comparative Perspectives

Last offered Fall 2016

In the age of satellite television, e-mail, 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, comparative course we will analyze recent theories regarding the origins and impacts of transnationalism. Particular attention will be paid throughout the semester to the interplay of gender, ethno-racial identity, sexuality, and class in connection with everyday transnational dynamics. The broad range of case studies examined includes China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Middle East. [ more ]

LATS 420Latinx Ecologies

Last offered Fall 2017

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 426 TQueer 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 427Racial and Religious Mixture

Last offered Spring 2016

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 440(F)Contemporary Exhibitions: Los Angeles and Latin America

This seminar examines connections between Latina/o and Latin American art through a series of recent exhibitions organized as part of a Getty initiative entitled Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA that opened in 2017. While the chronological span for the overall project reaches from Pre-Colombian art to present, we will focus on modern and contemporary art after the 1960s and consider key themes of art and activism, borders and diaspora, globalism and modernism, and popular culture and science fiction in the visual arts. Diverse in scope, these shows explored important developments in the arts of the Americas from the late-20th and 21st centuries, including, abstraction, Chicano muralism, Conceptual art, craft, feminist art, Kinetic art, Modernist design and architecture, social practice, and queer activism. Students will pursue individual research projects directly related to the art exhibitions we study, and examine photography, performance, painting, sculpture (including installation and participatory art), and video by artists both canonical and lesser known. Student projects will analyze the critical responses to the exhibitions while also exploring the roles of archives, art criticism, and curatorial practice in contemporary art history. [ more ]

LATS 462Art of California: Pacific Standard Time

Last offered Fall 2017

In this course, we will study the visual arts and culture of California after 1960 and consider the region's place in modern art history. We will focus on a series of recent exhibitions organized as part of a Getty initiative entitled Pacific Standard Time. Diverse in scope, these shows explored important developments in postwar art in California, including feminist art, African American assemblage, Chicano collectives, Modernist architecture, craft, and queer activism. In this seminar, we will pursue research projects directly related to the art exhibitions we study, and examine southern California conceptualism, photography, performance, painting, sculpture (including assemblage and installation), and video by artists both canonical and lesser known. Student projects will analyze the critical responses to the exhibitions, while also exploring the roles of archives, art criticism, and curatorial practice in contemporary art history. In fall 2017, a new Getty PST initiative focused on Latin American and Latino art will commence and this class will consider these exhibitions as well. [ more ]

LATS 471(S)Comparative Latina/o Migrations

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)Senior Honors Thesis: Latina/o Studies

Students beginning their thesis work in the fall must register for this course and subsequentially for LATS 031 during Winter Study. [ more ]

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

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