Syllabus

Department of Black and Latino Studies

Baruch College • CUNY

Spring 2024

Course: LTS/BLS 3019 Afro-Latinidades

Professor: Rojo Robles, Ph.D

Email: rojo.roblesmejias@baruch.cuny.edu

Office (student) hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 9:20-10:20 am (Office 4-272) or by appointment. This designated time is to discuss any questions or concerns about the class. We can meet briefly if you have a quick question or schedule a more extended session if you need help with coursework or content. If you prefer to meet at some other time, write me.

Course blog: https://blogs.baruch.cuny.edu/afrolatinidades/

Class meets:  Mondays and Wednesdays 10:45 am- 12:00 pm Room B – Vert 4-213

Weekly announcements: Thursdays

Course description: This student-centered course will examine African-descended populations in Latin America and Afro-Latinx in the United States through a collection of theoretically engaging and creatively grounded sources. We will explore questions of Black identity and representation, colonialism, resistance to slavery and its afterlives, transnationalism, and diaspora. Offering insight into Afro-Latinx lives and new ways to understand culture, ethnicity, nation, identity, and anti-racist politics, the course presents a complex hemispheric view of Afro-descendants. We will address history, music, gender, class, social activism, and media representations during the class. We will include scholarly essays, memoirs, articles, poetry, short stories, films, documentaries, and interviews. Together, these sources will help to bring Afro-Latinxs into a critical center. 

Student-centered pedagogy: The student-centered approach puts participants’ interests first by acknowledging their needs as central to the learning experience. Rather than designing the course entirely from the professor’s perspective, we will create it as a collaboration centering on the learners’ perspective. Each student will select their study path via an option-based practice. 

Learning goals: Our focus is on studying Afro-Latin American/Latinx cultures and their intersections with transnational Black lives as we develop these learning goals:

.Using interdisciplinary methods to build and support arguments addressing issues and ideas that center Black people’s knowledge production in the hemisphere and the Caribbean.

.Communicating ideas and arguments in written, oral, and digital forms.

.Evaluating issues of social and racial justice using multi/transdisciplinary perspectives.

.Assessing and identifying reliable sources of research and information.

.Develop skills for research and problem-solving.

Course objectives: During this course, students will:

.Survey some critical and theoretical debates about the history, societies, and cultures of Afro-Latin Americans and US Afro-Latinx people.

.Deepen knowledge of the cultural values, traditions, achievements, and history of Afro-Latin Americans and US Afro-Latinx people. 

.Demonstrate understanding of the dynamics of colonialism, race, ethnicity, class, migration, and diasporic formations concerning the experience of Afro-Latin Americans and US Afro-Latinxs.

Statement on grades and assessments: I believe people learn when they are curious and find stimulus and, many times, a joy to study. Grades do not reflect the subjective character of learning nor societal issues of access and equity. Everybody learns in complex ways that grades usually cannot reflect. This course will focus on qualitative assessment. Qualitative assessment is driven by the intention of understanding how people make meaning of and experience the sources they engage with. I will not use grades for individual assignments but add points based on your self-evaluations. I will also comment and ask questions that engage your work. At the end of the term, I will add all the points you have to determine your final grade.

Grade breakdown: 

Exam 1: 20%

Exam 2: 20% 

Class presentation: 5%

Zine proposal: 10%

Final zine project + self-evaluation: 25%

Attendance: 10% 

Participation + self-evaluation: 10%

Self-evaluation: You will reflect critically on your learning (with rubrics) and evaluate your class projects. After interacting with your work, I will give you feedback on your proposal and, optionally, on your final. I reserve the right to change your self-assessment if there is a significant disparity between your self-evaluations and my appreciation of your work. 

Grading:

93-100 A; 90-92 =A-; 87-89 =B+; 83-86 =B; 80-82 =B-; 77-79 = C+

73-76 = C; 70-72 = C-; 67-70 = D+; 63-66 = D; 60-62 = D-; <60 = F

Attendance and punctuality: Students are expected to attend, be on time, and stay for the full duration of all in-person sessions. Lateness is counted as arrival beyond the first 10 minutes of class. After two unexcused absences and/or lateness, your standing in class will be affected and we will lower your final grade accordingly (for example, an A becomes a B). Chronic lateness and/or absence will result in dismissal from the course.

Assignments: Students will engage with the course objectives by doing these assignments.

I. Class presentation

Research and analyze an assigned source from the syllabus. Your class presentation is an opportunity for you to practice your communication skills.  It should also demonstrate your ability to design an argument based on your close analysis of the text assigned for the day’s discussion. Present your breakdown orally based on the prompts below (8-10 minutes). You are encouraged to use slides, images, sound, or text to help visualize and engage the class. 

.What are the central ideas of this writer, poet, thinker, filmmaker, or artist?

.Analyze one specific section by your chosen author or creator that best communicates what you identified in the question above.

.Discuss how the text or piece’s structure enhances the author’s or creator’s conceptual goals.

.How does your analysis of this piece relate to or is informed by our course texts?

*Ideally, all presentations will be group presentations. However, there is openness for individual presentations. After the presentation, you will respond to a short Q&A with the professor and classmates. *

II. Exams

The in-class exams will consist of four critical and comparative questions about the class sources. They will allow you to practice your analytical skills.

III. Final project proposal 

Overview: Inspired by the sources explored during the semester and your reflections written in class you will create with your group a physical or digital zine. A zine is a noncommercial original magazine usually devoted to specialized and often marginalized subject matter. This zine will be an interdisciplinary exploration of Afro-Latinidades. This project is intended for you to demonstrate your creativity, critical thinking, research skills, and understanding of course concepts and themes.

In a 300-word you will summarize the overall themes and creative approaches that you will collectively take on in your zine.

.The first section of the proposal will be a concise reflection on what you have learned from the class so far and your expectations for the second half of the semester.

.The second section will explain the themes you are interested in exploring in the zine. Be specific. Topics could include but are not limited to:

.Histories of racial perspectives

.Hertories of Black liberation in the Americas

.Legacies and spaces of marronage

.Black diasporic rituals and spiritual practices 

.Afro-Latinx visual arts, storytelling and poetics

.Afro-Latinx music and performances

.In the last section of your proposal you will discuss how are you planning to creatively engage with your topics. Will you include poems, short stories, photos, illustrations, collages, word art, etc.?

Resources:

.Megan Phillips – Riot Grrrls and Ghouls: Revamping Third Wave Feminism With Zines 

.Cornell University – Zine 101: Culture and History 

.Rosie Knight – How Zine Libraries are Highlighting Marginalized Voices

III. Final project

Zines 

Instructions:

1. Intermix (audio) visual media, reflective, analytical, and creative writing (10 pages). As a combination of sources and aesthetics, your zine should teach readers something about the cultural contributions of people of African descent in the Americas. Integrate the sources, ideas, concerns, and aesthetic approaches that we discussed in class. You can incorporate photography, drawings, poems, flash essays, links to playlists, or videos. 

Remember to:

A. Identify and integrate the central concerns of the chosen sources.

B. Present your piece as an artistic interaction.

C. Refer or underscore specific sections or your chosen sources as you build your collective Afro-Latinx portrait.

You will also provide a list of sources – MLA or Chicago format – you must use at least 3 materials from our course, and at least 3 outside sources. Remember to include in-text citations when necessary: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/purdue_owl.html.

2. Additionally, every member of the group will describe their creative process in a reflective essay (2 pages). Reflect on what you have learned from doing this collective work? Discuss how your creative input integrates, interacts with, and/or replies to the main ideas presented by the class sources? How has this exercise helped you expand your understanding of Afro-Latinx identities and cultures? 

Below are some additional resources: 

  1. Flipsnack – free online zine creator 
  2. Canva –  graphic design creator 
  3. Electric Zine Maker 
  4. Amyzine 
  5. Sarah Burke – How to Make a Zine 
  6. YouTube-HowtoMakeaZineFromonePieceofPrinterPaper
  7. YouTube – How to Make a Mini Zine
  8. YouTube – Zines: The Power of DIY Print 

Statement on academic honesty: Learning involves pursuing honesty and dialogue, which you cannot achieve by presenting someone else’s work as your own. Writing in college means taking part in a conversation with other scholars, writers, and thinkers. By using academic citation, you demonstrate the relationship between your ideas and those of others. On the other hand, plagiarism is the failure to prove that relationship. I want to hear your voices and read how you get involved in the dialogue. Part of your academic experience is to enter these conversations by learning different ways to engage with sources. If questions remain, ask me. For the record, if you violate the precepts of academic honesty, you will receive a zero for the assignment.

Baruch College guides and resources 

Statement on missing work: If you have concerns about assignment due dates or the use of technology, please, let me know ahead of time. I am ready to work with you. I will deduct the total percentage of any missing work from your final grade. You are encouraged to email me or request a Zoom meeting for questions or further clarification of readings, audiovisual pieces, and assignments. 

Beware of these patterns:

.Submitting AI-generated work as your own. Doing this counts as plagiarism and will be handled accordingly. We will provide detailed prompts and models for your major assignments throughout the semester.

.Submitting work post-deadlines. If you are experiencing delays or obstacles of any sort, communicate your needs as early as possible.

.Disappearing from the class and re-appearing at the end of the semester asking to make up all the work. Similarly unacceptable: attending classes without submitting assignments as scheduled and asking to make up all work at the end, or submitting only the final project and asking it to count as the total grade.

Course materials:  All readings will be available on Blackboard as PDFs or links.

Languages: Although I will conduct the class in English if you feel more comfortable and want to work in either Spanish, Spanglish, Portuguese, or French, you may also write and create in any of these languages.

Are you looking for a minor or a major? Make BLS your choice: The Department of Black and Latino Studies offers interdisciplinary, intersectional approaches to the study of the ideas, history, politics, literature, music, religions, cultures, economic and social contributions of people of African and Latin American descent, including the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Our courses practice critical thinking and analysis skills, advanced writing, communication, and research. They also engage in digital literacies, collaboration, and project management— essential workforce skills. The interdisciplinary structure of our courses also offers excellent preparation for graduate school and careers in education, law, business, public relations, marketing, journalism, the arts, and education.