Syllabus

Course: BLS/LTS/LACS 4902 ETRA- Latin America and the Caribbean: Cultures and Societies

Lecturer: Rojo Robles, PhD

Email: rojo.roblesmejias@baruch.cuny.edu/rojorobles9@gmail.com

Office (Student) Hours: Tuesdays 3:45 PM- 4:45 PM  *by email or Zoom.*

Course Blog: https://blogs.baruch.cuny.edu/culturesandsocieties/

Class Meets: Tuesdays 2:30 PM – 3:45 PM via Zoom + asynchronous work

Weekly Announcements: Thursdays

Institutional Course Description: This interdisciplinary course examines the historical, political, cultural, and socioeconomic conditions of Latin America and the Caribbean from Pre-Hispanic times to the 19th century. The themes may vary from semester to semester. In line with the interdisciplinary nature of this topic, the course is taught by faculty from different disciplines.

Course Description for this Section: This interdisciplinary course that will combine synchronous discussions and asynchronous assignments will pay special attention to the way Caribbean historical fiction and poetry have examined Black rebellion in the region during colonial times until the 19th century. Some of the topics we will address are the European capture of Africans, domestic resistance in plantations, the Haitian Revolution, escapes, freedom practices, and emancipation. We will supplement this literary analysis with historical essays, documentaries, and videos that look at the political, cultural, and socioeconomic conditions of Latin America and the Caribbean during the Atlantic Slave Trade.

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 from the professor’s perspective, it is designed from the learner’s perspective. In the learner-centered approach, the students take ownership of the content, determine how it will be useful or relevant to them, and build the connections to allow learning to happen.

Community Building: Some of the effects of the pandemic have been the loss of interaction in the classrooms, and on-campus, the lack of body language, nods, interrogative gestures, sounds, and smiles. While Zoom allows us to get together virtually, it does not get close to the real thing. As a way to avoid isolation and disconnection, I encourage you to turn on your cameras while we are together in our Zoom sessions. Seeing each other helps build community and stimulate conversations and other types of interactions (breakout rooms, chats, etc.) If you are concerned about privacy you can switch to a neutral pre-set background or an image of your choosing. You can turn on your camera intermittently when you are participating and, when off, you can set a photo of yourself. Looking forward to a possible in-person semester in the Fall, let’s start to engage more and personalize the learning experience as much as we can with the tools we have. Thanks!

Course Objectives: During this course, students will:

. Survey some key points in the general history and culture of Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America until the 19th century.

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

. Demonstrate knowledge of the dynamics of colonialism, race, ethnicity, class, displacement, and diasporic formations concerning the experience of Afro-Caribbean people.

. Articulate experiences of resistance to slavery and colonial rule in a trans-Caribbean context.

. Interpret the content, discourse, and form of historical, literary, and documentary work through different writing styles.

. Discuss, debate, and get inspired to keep learning about historical issues and achievements in the Caribbean and Latin America and keep engaging in Black, Latin American, and Latino Studies. 

Course Assignments and Grade Breakdown: 

Blog Engagements (2% x 10): 20%

Online Survey and one-on-one meeting: 5 points extra credit

One Oral + Slide Presentation: 10%

Midterm Essay or Creative Project: Proposal 5% + Project 25%= 30%

Final Essay or Podcast: 30%

Attendance and Participation: 10%

*Attendance will be evaluated through your participation in Zoom sessions and via asynchronous blog engagements.*

Grading:

97-100 = A+; 93-96 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: Students are encouraged to attend and be on time for all Zoom sessions and to submit online critical posts. If you are having issues with your access to the Internet and synchronous sessions, please contact me to find solutions and alternative engagements. After three absences your standing in class could be affected. If you are missing a lot of work, I will contact you to discuss how to re-engage. Special consideration will be taken for those affected by COVID 19. Please communicate your needs and concerns.

Assignments:

Zoom Presentation

Research and analyze an assigned source from the syllabus. Present your breakdown orally and with slides based on the following questions (8-10 minutes):

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

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

3. What analogies can you establish between the primary source, your own experiences, and/or other sources you have read, listened to, or seen?

4. Pose a critical question to the group.

 

Midterm Project

You may choose one of the following two options for your midterm project:

Option 1: Argumentative Essay

Proposal

(200-250 words/ Double Space/ Times New Roman/ Font size: 12)

Essay

(Word Document/ Double Space/ Times New Roman/ Font size: 12)

Instructions:

1. Choose the source discussed in the class that had the greatest impact on you.

2. In a 200-250 words paragraph present a proposal that includes:

The topic, source, and author from the course that you will be having a dialogue with and a research question.

A preliminary central idea or argument that you will be trying to convey through the project and the written reflection.

3. After receiving my feedback, write your argumentative essay using this template:

Write an introduction in which you present the author(s) and text(s) to be discussed, your chosen research question, and your thesis statement (your main argument and answer to the question).

Develop at least two body paragraphs in which you present supporting evidence from the primary source(s).

Write a conclusion in which you wrap up your discussion on the author(s) and text(s), summarize your argument(s) and finish with a personal statement.

(3-4 Pages/Double Space/ Times New Roman/ Font size: 12)

Option 2:  Short Story Project

Proposal

(200-250 words/ Double Space/ Times New Roman/ Font size: 12)

Project and reflection

(Word Document/ Double Space/ Times New Roman/ Font size: 12)

Instructions:

1. Choose the source discussed in the class that had the greatest impact on you intellectually, emotionally, and creatively.

2. In a 200-250 words paragraph present a proposal that includes:

The topic, source, and author from the course that you will be having a dialogue with and getting inspired by.

A narrative overview

A preliminary central idea or argument that you will be trying to convey through the project and the written reflection.

3. Respond to the selected source through a short story (2-3 pages). Remember to:

Identify the central concerns of the selected source.

Present your piece as an artistic interaction.

Refer or underscore specific sections or your chosen piece.

4. In a short essay (2 pages) reflect on what have you learned from your chosen work? Discuss how your short story integrates and interacts with the ideas presented by the source? How has this exercise helped you to integrate past experiences into your sense of identity and/or worldview?

Example:

The stories from Negras, “Wanwe” “Midwives” and “Arrowhead” by Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro pay attention to the violence of the Atlantic slave trade from the capture in Africa, to the forced labor in Puerto Rico and the colonial punishments against rebellious women. Through a short story divided into three sections written from the point of view of the protagonists, I will show moments in which these characters intersect and/or meet, I will emphasize how they perceived the other character’s acts of rebellion while centering, just like the author the inner world, brilliant skills, and humanity of these enslaved characters.

 

Final Project

You may choose one of the following three options for your final project:

Option 1: Final Argumentative Essay

Instructions

1. Select one of the research questions posed by the professor.

2. Write an introduction in which you present the author(s) and text(s) to be discussed, your chosen research question, and your thesis statement (your main argument and answer to the question).

3. Develop at least two body paragraphs in which you present supporting evidence from the primary source(s).

4. Write a conclusion in which you wrap up your discussion on the author(s) and text(s), summarize your argument(s), and finish with a personal statement.

(3-4 Pages/Double Space/ Times New Roman/ Font size: 12)

Option 2: A Podcast Episode

Instructions

1. Select one of the research questions posed by the professor.

2. Record a podcast (8-10 minutes) using the following template:

3. Present the author(s) and text(s) to be discussed, your chosen research question, and your thesis statement (your main argument and answer to the question).

4. Develop at least two sections in which you present supporting evidence from the primary source(s).

5. Wrap up your discussion on the author(s) and text(s), summarize your argument(s), and finish with a personal statement.

Option 3: Public Scholarship

Instructions

  1. Select one of the research questions posed by the professor (with suggestions from the students.)
  2. Create a social media project (a series of Twitter threads; an annotated playlist; a series of Instagram photos or a video with captions; a TikTok or YouTube video; etc.) using the following template with flexibility. Creative posts could have a different structure but you should include in some way the major prompts.
  3. Present the author(s) and text(s) to be discussed, your chosen research question, and your thesis statement (your main argument and answer to the question).
  4. Develop at least two sections in which you present supporting evidence from the primary source(s).
  5. Wrap up your discussion on the author(s) and text(s), summarize your argument(s), and finish with a personal statement.

*A podcast or public scholarship project has a more informal tone than an essay. It is a project that could let you own the material. If you have other ideas that could go beyond the referred template please brainstorm with me.*

*I will distribute supplemental guidelines, rubrics, and details for all projects.*

Statement on Academic Honesty: Learning involves the pursuit of honesty and dialogue which cannot be achieved 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 the ways you get involved in the dialogue. Part of your academic experience is to enter these conversations by learning different ways to engage with sources.

Visit and read the college’s Academic Honesty Policy web site: http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/academic/academic_honesty.html

For further discussion of plagiarism and clarification of its parameters, see the online plagiarism tutorial prepared by members of the Newman Library faculty at http://newman.baruch.cuny.edu/help/plagiarism/default.htm.

If questions remain, ask me. For the record, if you violate the precepts of academic honesty you will receive a zero for the assignment.

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. Special consideration will be taken for those affected by COVID 19. I will deduct the full percentage of any missing work from your final grade. You are encouraged to email me or request a Zoom meeting for any questions or further clarification of any readings, audiovisual pieces, and assignments. 

Course Materials:  Except for Margarita Engle’s book The Poet Slave of Cuba, all readings will be available on Blackboard as PDFs.

Required Book: Engle, Margarita. The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano. Square Fish, 2006.

Languages: Although I will conduct the class in English, you can also write in Spanish, Spanglish, French, and Portuguese if you feel more comfortable and fluent in these languages.

Looking for a Minor? Make BLS Your Choice: The Department of Black and Latino Studies prepares students for a broad range of careers in the public and private sector; for entrance to professional schools such as law, social work, urban planning, and medicine, and graduate study and research in the social sciences and humanities. The Department has a long history of nurturing students’ intellectual discipline, creativity, and social and political awareness. The Department’s interdisciplinary structure offers students an opportunity to satisfy the increasing expectations of admissions committees and prospective employers for a broad liberal arts perspective that complements the specialized knowledge of a field.