This course will consider how Latinos are transforming the United States socially, politically, and culturally, even as they themselves change in the process. Topics to be examined include meanings of “Latino” and “Hispanic” as ethno-racial categories, where Latinos fit in the American social and economic hierarchies, cultural identities, immigration and assimilation, the significance of Hispanics’ unprecedented geographic dispersal, and their myriad impacts on mainstream music, literature, and language.
Jorge I. Cortinas
This course maps some benefits and perils of theater made for, by, or about people of color in the United States. We will investigate the difficult-to-theorize and contested space between politics and artistic craft. We will read both play scripts and critical essays, using each to illuminate and complicate the other. Some of the pairings purposefully cross categories of identity, genre or historic periods. We aim to shake loose some of these texts from identity-based or genre-specific readings and glean from them strategies for making theater and surviving.
This course examines various political controversies that surround the role of race in American society. These controversies and issues affect public opinion, political institutions, political behavior, and salient public policy debates. Thus this course will assess and evaluate the role of race in each of these domains while also examining this historical antecedents. Special attention will be devoted to the nature of contemporary racial attitudes, given the election of the nation's first black president.
Germán Labrador Méndez
This seminar focuses on the comparative study of Latino urban cultures in U.S., Caribbean and Spanish cities (mainly New York City; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Madrid). Topics include the 2008 financial crisis, Occupy-like movements, global migratory flows, popular culture, memory, debt, visuality and citizenship. Paying close attention to their political and cultural contexts, flamenco, hip-hop, graffiti, visual culture, poetry, documentary films and political performances will be analyzed. Guest speakers and musicians will be part of the conversation.
Brian E. Herrera
This course investigates the history of popular entertainments in the United States from the colonial era to the present. Moving briskly among some of the myriad sites, sounds and spectacles that have captivated diverse American audiences, this course tracks how entertainment genres, venues, personalities and phenomena have shaped U.S. culture in enduring and significant ways. This course examines how U.S. entertainment — as simultaneously industrial operation and cultural production — has mapped routes of social encounter, mobility and resistance, while also serving as a platform for individual expression and imaginative escape.
Courses of Interest
Claudia L. Johnson
Because they foreground issues of interpretation, signs, and narrative, mysteries attract “high-brow” readers while maintaining their “popular” status. Our class will trace the development of kinds of mysteries — classics, cozies, noirs, thrillers, post-moderns, metaphysicals — across historical contexts. Reading theorists such as Freud, Moretti, and Todorov, we will examine the nature of blindspots, doublings, plotting, clues, and suspense, and consider how racial, sexual and cultural difference puts pressure on literary form.
Marina S. Brownlee
From Artemidorus in antiquity to Freud in modern times, dreams and nightmares have been a perennial human concern. This course will explore political, philosophical, medical and psycho-sexual representations of dreams and nightmares by such authors as Cervantes, Zayas, Calderón, Cela, Martín Gaite, Muñoz Molina, Bolaño, Piglia and Vargas Llosa.
Manuel-Angel G. Loureiro
An introduction to the analysis of contemporary cultural texts (narrative, poetry, film, photography) from Latin America and Spain, with the support of various theoretical ideas. The course’s main objective is to provide students with a set of strong conceptual, analytical and linguistic skills, which will be of great help in 300-level literature/culture courses.
Javier E. Guerrero
An exploration of a series of critically acclaimed contemporary Latin American films, accompanied by readings that provide a theoretical and historical framework for its analysis. Topics to be discussed, among others: subalternity and the Third World; sexual and racial politics; postcolonial poetics; genocide; cultural hybridism and mestizaje; dictatorship and populism; biopolitical fantasies.
By taking a comparative approach, this course examines the role of social, economic, and political factors in the emergence and transformation of modern cities in the United States and selected areas of Latin America. We consider the city in its dual image: both as a center of progress and as a redoubt of social problems, especially poverty. Attention is given to spatial processes that have resulted in the aggregation and desegregation of populations differentiated by social class and race.
Javier E. Guerrero
This course offers an introduction to modern Latin American literature and culture. It focuses on the complex ways in which cultural and intellectual production anticipates, participates in, and responds to political, social, and economic transformations in the 20th and 21st centuries. Through a wide spectrum of sources (essays, fiction, poetry, film, and art), students will study and discuss some of the most relevant issues in Latin American modern history, such as modernity, democracy, identity, gender, memory, and social justice.
Brian E. Herrera
This workshop course for actors, directors and scholars rehearses how to play with and against “type” in performance. The course uses scene- and monologue-study to press upon the limits of the conventions of typecasting. Course participants will experiment with cross-gender and cross-cultural casting; mask improvisation; conceptual casting; and performing across age, size, and ability. Throughout, the course engages relevant scholarly literature assessing the transformational act of taking on a role and uses in-class exercises, presentations and performances to press theory into practice (and vice versa).
Courses of Interest
This course explores how ideas and discourses about race shape how public policy is debated, adopted and, implemented. Black social movements and geopolitical considerations prompted multiple public policy responses to racial discrimination throughout the 20th century. Despite these policy responses, discrimination persists, raising theoretical concerns about the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion, political representation, the role of the state (meaning government or law) in promoting social justice, and the role of social movements and civil society in democratizing policymaking and addressing group oppression.
Julian E. Zelizer
The history of contemporary America, with particular attention to political, social and technological changes. Topics will include the rise of a new conservative movement and the reconstitution of liberalism, the end of the divisive Cold War era and the rise of an interconneted global economy, revolutionary technological innovation coupled with growing economic inequality, a massive influx of immigrants coupled with a revival of isolationism and nativism, a revolution in homosexual rights and gender equality coupled with the rise of a new ethos of “family values.”
The study of religion in Latin America and the United States have developed in parallel ways, exploring similar questions, but in relative isolation from one another. (A particularly illustrative example is the conceptual move towards “lived religion” by scholars of religion in the US and “local religion” by Latin Americanists.) This course seeks to bring Latin American and US religious history into conversation around key issues and theoretical concepts.
Our goal in this course is (a) to understand various definitions of race and ethnicity from a theoretical perspective and in a plurality of contexts and (b) to account for the rise of ethnicity and race as political and cultural forces in the age of globalization. Why are ethnic and racial delimitations expanding in areas of the world where such distinctions were formerly muted? Is race and racial discrimination all the same regardless of geographical region? What are the main theories and methodologies now available for the study of race and ethnicity from a comparative point of view? These are among the questions our course aims to answer.
Manuel-Angel G. Loureiro
An exploration of some of the most distinctive themes in Spanish films of the last fifty years. Topics to be discussed, among others: political repression; the modernization of Spain since the 1960s; the perversions of love; the world as a stage; new sexualities; the redefinition of gender roles; uncanny worlds.
Asterisked courses [*] qualify toward a certificate in Latino studies; other courses approved upon demonstrating completion of assignments related to Latinos.