Courses

Latin American and Latinx Studies Course Catalog


FYS 443 Heroes or Villains? Columbus and Fidel (Castro)

Christopher Columbus’ momentous voyage in 1492 ushered in the modern world in Europe, the Americas, and Africa. As a historical figure, Columbus has been the object of much myth making, both positive and negative. Likewise, no other politician in Latin American history has been better known or more controversial than Fidel Castro. Columbus and Fidel, as he is known in Cuba, shared a utopian view of their world and the future of humanity. This seminar approaches the two figures by studying their own writings, the opinions of their contemporaries, and the ideological constructions that see them as heroes and also as negative figures in history.

LALS 181 Creating Latin America: A History

Beginning with the lead up to the first encounters between Europeans and Americans and ending with the challenges of globalization in the twenty-first century, this course offers a chronological and topical overview of 500 years of Latin American history. It examines individual lives within the frameworks of sweeping political, social, and cultural transformations. Students use primary documents, images, texts, and film to explore the major themes of the course, including the nature of conquest; the mixing of European, African, and American cultures; independence and the creation of new nations; and twentieth-century social revolutions and military dictatorships. Special attention is given to issues of race, gender, religion, and relationships with the United States.

LALS 205 Citizenship, Borders, and Belonging

Increasing levels of globalization have prompted scholars to predict the diminishing importance of national borders. Contrarily, in the age of detention, deportation, and refugee crises, citizenship has gained renewed importance. In this course, students explore different ways of organizing citizenship around the world from multiple perspectives including those of refugees, visa seekers, unauthorized immigrants, soldiers, and mothers, among others. They examine how formal framings of rights are shaped by a politics of representation where the ideal citizen is crafted and contested. They also consider how those excluded from legal and cultural citizenship form alternative structures of belonging.

LALS 208 Latinx Politics

This course explores the role of Latinos in the state and national politics of the United States. It begins by examining the meaning of Latino, then explores the history of Latino political organization, social movements (civil rights), and political incorporation (citizenship acquisition, registration and voting). The course considers contemporary Latino participation in U.S. politics, including modes of political organization, social movements, public opinion, the impact of Latino voters on recent campaigns and elections, and the election of Latinos to public office. Although the course gives particular attention to Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Salvadorans, and Cubans, it also serves as an introduction to the broader study of ethnic politics in the United States. Recommended background: PLTC 115.

LALS 214 Afro-Latinx Diasporas in the United States

Over the last two decades, Afro-Latinx culture and history has become a rich area of study. Emphasizing ethnographic approaches, this course examines how racial formations, gender and national belonging have historically and recently intersected in the production and representation of Blackness within Latinx spaces. Students draw from decolonial frameworks and use different media to critically analyze how anti-Blackness rooted in the myth of racial democracy shapes Afro-Latinx cultures in the U.S. Recommended background: coursework in Africana, anthropology, gender and sexuality studies, or Latin American and Latinx studies. Crosslisted in Africana, anthropology, and Latin American and Latinx studies.

LALS 238 Culture, Conflict, and Change in Latin America

Over 400 million Latin Americans share a common language, but the region’s racial, ethnic, geographical, and cultural diversity complicates a singular continental identity. This course surveys the anthropological scholarship on the diverse lifeways in Latin America and the Caribbean. Images and texts drawn from distinct locales considers how contrasting anthropological perspectives from the region’s peoples, histories, and contemporary challenges. Of particular concern are the ways legacies of colonialism shape both Latin America and anthropology. Additional topics of interest include indigenous and Afro-Latinx resistance and expression; immigration, transnationalism, and deportation; sex, gender, and sex work.

LALS 249 Politics of Latin America

This course considers how major political and economic actors, events, and ideas from the late nineteenth century to the beginning of the twenty-first contribute to strengthening or weakening democratic governance in South America today. Students consider mass politics and populism, regime breakdown and military rule, the twin challenges of democratic transitions and neoliberal economic reforms, and finally the post-transition challenges of persistent low quality of democracies and income inequality. Recommended background: HI/LL 181 and PLTC 122.

LALS 268 US Latinx History: From Empire to Detentions

This course introduces students to the history of Latinx Americans drawing on the distinct experiences of Puerto Ricans, Chicanxs/Mexicanxs, Dominican Americans, Central Americans, and Cuban Americans. The course underscores international processes (imperialism and immigration) as central forces in the formation of U.S. Latinx communities. This global perspective accompanies a focus on the relationship between Latinx culture and American society, the dynamic role of women in the shaping of Latinx American communities, and origins and place of Latin American-origin immigrants in U.S. society.

LALS 270 The Spanish Empire: From Madrid to Manila

When examining the origins of our globalized modern world, there’s no better place to look than the Spanish empire during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. At its peak it stretched around the world and encompassed what is now Spain, Portugal, parts of Italy and the Netherlands, the Philippines and much of North and South America. This course considers what it meant to live in different parts of these vast territories, including for “old Christian” Spaniards, recent Jewish converts to Christianity, Muslims, Africans and their descendants, and indigenous peoples of the Americas and Philippines. It also takes up questions of imperial scale, including the challenges of maintaining royal authority over distant lands and how goods, people, and knowledge moved throughout the empire.

LALS 272 The Mexican Revolution

The first major social revolution of the twentieth century, the Mexican Revolution continues to shape Mexico well into the twenty-first century. This course centers on Reacting to the Past, a game in which students assume the role of historical characters. They debate and decide the most pressing issues of the day, while trying to find allies and avoid assassination attempts. Topically, the course begins with the conditions and events leading to the overthrow of President Porfirio Díaz in 1910, continues through the course of a bloody civil war, questions over how to build a new society, and the divisive institutionalization of a “revolutionary” one-party state. It concludes with ways that the revolution has been remembered, including in art and film.

LALS 279 The Age of Revolution: Latin American Edition

During the decades surrounding the turn of the nineteenth century, uprisings in the Americas challenged colonial authority. This course examines some of those uprisings in the Spanish Americas, including the 1780s Tupac Amaru Rebellion-the deadliest and perhaps most violent rebellion in the Americas up until that time-and the wars that eventually led to independence. Students also discuss what it was like to live during the time of these tumultuous events. The first Latin American novel, The Mangy Parrot, provides the basis for exploring topics that include race, gender, crime, and daily life.

LALS 301X All Power to All People: Social Movements of the 1960s

In 1964, free speech activist Mario Savio exclaimed, “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious… you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears …and you’ve got to make it stop.” In this seminar students consider the social movements of the 1960s, a period idealized, criticized, and misunderstood in U.S. history. They examine key themes, goals, and tensions within the Chicana/o, Native American, Women’s, and Black Power movements as groups and individuals used their bodies and voices to contest the meaning of American society, and their lasting impacts on US society.

LALS 302 Minor Subjects: Childhood and Adolescence in Latin American Film and Literature

In recent years, film and literature from across the globe have been increasingly interested in childhood experiences and perspectives. Contesting popular beliefs that childhood is an innocent and apolitical experience, Latin American film and literature have depicted the child figure both as a complex, agentic character and as a site of tension for issues of race, class, gender, and national politics. This course conceptualizes global theories on childhood studies in conversation with the historical, political, and social realities with which authors and filmmakers engage through stories of childhood experiences. Only open to juniors and seniors. Prerequisite(s): HISP 211. Recommended background: HISP 224.

LALS 303 The Spanish Inquisition

Were witches and heretics really tortured in the Spanish Inquisition’s infamous jails? This course examines both the institution of the Spanish Inquisition and the lives of those who came before it. The sins that concerned the Inquisition depended on the time and place, and the crimes prosecuted in sixteenth-century Spain or eighteenth-century New Spain reveal a great deal about early modern (ca. 1500-1800) culture and society. Students read and analyze original Inquisition cases from Spain and New Spain as well as consider the ways historians have used cases to investigate topics such as sexuality and marriage, witchcraft, and the persecution of Jews and Muslims.

LALS 304 Poesía de resistencia: From Antipatriarchy to Anti-imperialism

The course explores antipatriarchy and anti-imperialist poetry written by women in twentieth- and twenty-first-century Spanish America. It grounds its exploration on historical writers such as Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Micaela Lastenia Larriva, who wrote against the gender paradigm brought to the Américas by the Spanish. It closely examines the work of Rosario Castellanos and Domitila Barrios Chúngara and the transition from antipatriarchy to anti-U.S. imperialism, and the presence of poetry as a weapon in defense of civil liberties. Special attention is given to contemporary poetry written by indigenous and Afro-descendant women of the Spanish-speaking Américas. Prerequisite(s): HISP 211.

LALS 317 Screening Citizenship: Jewish Latin American Film

This course considers films from throughout Latin America made by Jewish directors. Students learn the history of Latin American film production as well as terms and skills necessary for audiovisual analysis. The course examines the ways in which film is used as a vehicle to explore and represent issues of identity, belonging, immigration, and assimilation that have long characterized Jewish experiences in Latin America. Moreover, the course focuses on filmmakers’ engagement with key social and political issues within their respective countries as well as on a regional or global scale. Taught in Spanish. Prerequisite(s): HISP 210 or 211. Recommended background: HISP 228.

LALS 318 Next Year in Havana: Stories of the Jewish and Latinx Diaspora in the United States

This course considers literature authored by Jewish and Latinx-identifying authors writing from the United States and explores Jewishness as imagined by Latinx authors. Students examine the construction of intersecting Jewish and Latinx identities and experiences. Particular attention is paid to how Latinx ethnicities are constructed differentially throughout the Americas and how narratives of ethno-national identities (racial democracy in Brazil, Calibanism in Cuba, and the cosmic race in Mexico), particularly their spiritual implications, come into contact with both Jewishness as an ethnicity and Judaism as a religion. Taught in English. Recommended background: HISP 211 or a literature course in ethnic studies. Open only to juniors and seniors.

LALS 321 Afroambiente: Escritura negra y medio ambiente

This course studies the response of black writers and intellectuals of the Spanish-speaking world to issues related to the natural environment. In several countries, including Colombia, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, and Equatorial Guinea, from colonial times to the present, modernity has brought serious challenges to notions of economic progress, human rights, and national sovereignty as well as individual and communal identity. Course materials include written texts from local newspapers and magazines as well as other sources of information such as websites that present issues related to the environment and the arts. All readings are in English. Taught in Spanish. Prerequisite(s): one 200-level Hispanic studies course above 211. Only open to juniors and seniors.

LALS 323 Crime, Violence, and Security in Latin America

Despite a region-wide shift to democracy, Latin America possesses higher rates of violence in the 21st century than any other region in the world. Why? This course analyzes the root causes of crime and violence and its impact on Latin America. Through the examination of specific cases, students explore the various manifestations of crime and violence occurring in the region and responses to it by states, citizens, and private entities. Some key themes include the significance of weak and corrupt institutions; legacies of authoritarianism; police reform; the war on drugs; and the emergence of private security.

LALS 325 Weaving Memory and Trauma: Contemporary Spanish American Novel

The contemporary Spanish American novel that engages historical political violence does so from an intimate, textured view of memory and trauma. The memory and experience are entwined within recognizable but revised forms of fiction to accommodate voices in tension, while a cohesive plot shapes and allows for the questioning of memory placement and the articulation of trauma. Contrary to the “gran novelas” of the twentieth century, the contemporary novel textures violence by integrating voices that question ideological pronouncements of the twentieth century. Prerequisite(s): one 200-level Hispanic studies course above 211. Recommended background: HISP 230.

LALS 341 Lectura americana de Cervantes

A present-day reading in America of Don Quijote de La Mancha and other key texts of the Spanish and Spanish American Renaissance. This course examines themes of Islamophobia, white supremacy, conquest and empire, the slave trade, the quest for utopias, and the construction of historical narratives that shape the politics of the day. Students analyze myths and legends of the marvelous real such as the fountain of youth in Florida, the island of California, the return to the Golden Age, fabulous cities and unbelievable real ones (Mexico-Tenochtitlan, Cuzco) that are admired and destroyed, and a fake island in Louisiana called Barataria. Students consider issues that obsessed people in Cervantes’ time: the expulsion of Muslims, hatred of Jews, war, gender roles and women’s freedom, mental and physical disability, and changes to the environment in the form of windmills. Taught in Spanish. Prerequisite(s): one 200-level Hispanic studies course above HISP 211. Recommended background: HISP 231. Only open to juniors and seniors.

LALS 352 Participatory Democracy in the Americas

How far can we press the ideal of true democracy? Is the individual right to vote the apex of democratic practice, or might we strive for deeper involvement in politics and the public sphere? This course engages canonical debates on the boundaries of liberal democratic practices and casts them against innovations in democratic governance. Ideas and solutions are assessed on normative and empirical grounds with particular attention to the position of marginalized groups. In addition to seminar-style meetings, the course deploys experiential learning techniques to connect theory to praxis.

LALS 353 Political Violence in Latin America

Why is public life in contemporary Latin America so violent? Political violence is inherent to revolutions, civil wars, and authoritarian regimes. In contrast, one of the merits of democracy is that it facilitates the peaceful allocation of resources and power. For much of the twentieth century, Latin America struggled with insurgencies, civil war, and repressive authoritarian regimes. A wave of democratic transitions in the 1980s and 1990s brought renewed hope for peace, justice, and the protection of civil liberties, but political violence persists. This course explores the puzzling persistence of violence throughout the region. Recommended background: HI/LL 181; PLTC 122, 249, s49, or another research methods course.

LALS 360 Independent Study

Students, in consultation with a faculty advisor, individually design and plan a course of study or research not offered in the curriculum. Course work includes a reflective component, evaluation, and completion of an agreed-upon product. Sponsorship by a faculty member in the program/department, a course prospectus, and permission of the chair are required. Students may register for no more than one independent study per semester.

LALS 382 Latinx Film

This course introduces students to the field of Latinx studies through the lens of Latinx representations in United States film. By analyzing various films that feature Latinx characters, actors, and stories, students learn about the diversity of the Latinx population in the United States and develop an understanding of the key sociopolitical issues Latinx individuals face. Through the medium of film, themes such as immigration, gender, ethnicity and race, and the policing of Brown bodies gives students a more nuanced understanding of the largest growing minority population in the United States while also providing them the terms and skills necessary for audiovisual analysis. Taught in English. Cross-listed in American studies, Hispanic studies, and Latin American and Latinx studies. Only open to juniors and seniors. Recommended background: AM/AN 207, AMST 200, HISP 228, LL/PT 208, or RFSS 120.

LALS 457 Senior Thesis

An in-depth independent study of Latin American and Latinx studies. Majors register for LALS 457 in the fall semester. Majors writing an honors thesis register for LALS 457 in the fall semester and LALS 458 in the winter semester.

LALS 458 Senior Thesis

An in-depth independent study of Latin American and Latinx studies. Majors register for LALS 458 in the winter semester. Majors writing an honors thesis register for LALS 457 in the fall semester and LALS 458 in the winter semester.

LALSS 11 Bordering Hispaniola: Blackness, Mixture, and Nation in the Dominican Republic

This course explores Dominican identity and its relation to ideas of nation vis-à-vis the island’s shared border with Haiti. Before departing for Santo Domingo, students consider the contexts of colonialism, state formation, and labor migration that shape contemporary Dominican identities. In the Dominican Republic, students visit key sites in the African and Haitian diasporas in the country. Further, they examine performance and popular culture as key sites of antiracist engagement. Students employ participatory ethnographic methods and map making to examine key themes of identity, performance, and resistance. Cross-listed in Africana, anthropology, and Latin American and Latinx studies.

LALSS 20 Latina Power! U.S. Latina Labor History

One of the first major labor victories for Mexican Americans came from an unlikely source: young, Latina organizers. This course examines these women, their organizing, and the larger contexts of labor movements and the place of Latina women in the mid-twentieth century, focusing on the 1938 Pecan Shellers Strike in San Antonio, Texas, led by an 18-year-old strike leader Emma Tenayuca, and Luisa Moreno, a Guatemalan immigrant who organized workers in Florida and California. Grounded in feminist theory, the course places the strike and Latina workers as critical in core social tensions of the time.

LALSS 29 Montezuma’s Mexico: Aztecs and their World

The Aztec state encompassed millions of people, featured a capital whose size and towering pyramids left the first Spanish visitors in awe, and developed a culture that continues to influence contemporary Mexico, from food and dress to festivals like the Day of the Dead. Yet Aztecs are more commonly remembered for their cannibalism than their complex civilization. This course examines the Aztec world: what it was like to live under Aztec rule, how society was organized, what people believed about how the cosmos worked, and why Aztecs practiced ritual human sacrifice.

LALSS 50 Independent Study

Students, in consultation with a faculty advisor, individually design and plan a course of study or research not offered in the curriculum. Course work includes a reflective component, evaluation, and completion of an agreed-upon product. Sponsorship by a faculty member in the program/department, a course prospectus, and permission of the chair are required. Students may register for no more than one independent study during a Short Term.