Latinas: A Social and Cultural Survey


Department of Black and Latino Studies

Baruch College • CUNY FALL 2020

Course: LTS 3012 FMWA Latinas: A Social and Cultural Survey

Lecturer: Rojo Robles, PhD


*I respond to emails from Monday to Friday during regular working hours 9:00-5:00 PM. Estimated time to respond 1-2 days.

Office Hours: Mondays 3:00-4:00 PM

*By email, telephone call, or videoconference.

Course Blog:

Class Meets: Online through Zoom on Mondays 4:10-5:25 PM + asynchronous work during the weekends with prompts posted on Wednesdays.

*There are some exceptions to this schedule. Please refer to the calendar. You will be notified of any changes in a timely fashion.*

Weekly Announcements: Fridays via Blackboard

Institutional Course Description: This course addresses the social and economic condition of Latinas in the United States. We will discuss questions of gender and sexuality, language, politics, labor relations, family relationships, literary and artistic expression, and the construction of identities as they manifest themselves in the experiences of contemporary Latina women. Enrollment Requirements: PREREQ: ANT 1001, HIS 3070, HIS 3075, HSP 1000, HSP 1003, HSP 1004, LTS 1000, LTS 1003, LTS 1004 OR SOC 1005. Requirement Designation: Regular Liberal Arts.

Course Description for This Section: This online course is an interdisciplinary cultural survey of Latinas in the U.S. It will explore education, economic and cultural representation, racial, ethnic, and gender formations. The first half of the course emphasizes the experiences of Afro-Boricua women. The second half focuses on the poetics of Mexican, Salvadoran, and Cuban descendants. The course will also analyze U.S. imperialism and war, colonialism and coloniality, policing, and surveillance. It will pay attention to labor, empowering poetics and narratives, racial politics, trans-Caribbean dialogues, climate justice, relationships with African Americans, and issues of Puerto Rican standing in the U.S. The objective of the class is to facilitate entries into Latina, Caribbean, and Afro-Boricua cultures and identities while framing the struggle for cultural recognition, artistic platforms, civil, educational, and labor rights in the U.S.

A Personal Note on Gender Identity: Cisgender is a term for people whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth. For example, someone who identifies as a man, like me, and was assigned male at birth is a cisgender man. As a male professor, I am aware that my gender identity is in tension with the proposed analysis of this class. I will bring my expertise and pedagogy tools in Puerto Rican and Latinx cultural studies as a way to engage with the Latina thinkers, writers, and artists mentioned below. My goal is to facilitate this academic conversation but most importantly to listen with care and keep learning from the specific experiences of Latinas. I propose a student-centered pedagogy (constant decision-making from the students) and recurrent use of interviews and personal writing as a way to emphasize the voices and experiences of Latinas within our virtual learning space.

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.

Empowering CUNY #CutCovidNotCUNY: This has been a summer of struggle: individual struggles with illness and loss; collective struggles to demand an end to structural racism. Amidst these struggles, the PSC (CUNY’s Union) has spent the last three months engaged in a continuing campaign. We’ve organized and litigated to restore the jobs of our 2900 adjunct colleagues who were laid off by CUNY, to demand taxes on the ultra-rich instead of cuts to our universities, and to ensure the health and safety of all CUNY workers and students.
Our struggle at CUNY is not over. The anti-racist struggle and the fight against austerity are not over.  It is important to stay informed and involved in the year ahead #DreamCUNY.

Course Goals: 

. Developing a contextual understanding of the experiences of U.S. Latinas.

. Demonstrating knowledge of the dynamics of race, ethnicity, class, gender, national origin, and diasporic formation concerning the experience of Latinas.

. Articulating experiences of Latinas in a transnational context.

. Critiquing concepts such as justice, rights, advocacy, and citizenship with regards to Latina communities.

Learning Objectives: During this course students will:

. Deepen knowledge of the cultural values, traditions, achievements, and history of Latinas in the U.S.

. Research, learn and present Afro-Latina and feminist sources to the class.

. Learn about different academic, literary, film, and musical genres produced by Latinas in the U.S.

. Study the style and characteristics of each work as well as the historical background and, if relevant, the author’s life, activities, and aspirations.

. Interpret the content, discourse, and form of critical, literary, and film work through different writing styles: the blog post, the personal and argumentative essay, and the interview.

Course Assignments and Grade Breakdown: 

Blog Engagements (2% x 8): 16%

Online Surveys (extra credit): 5 points

One Zoom Presentation: 5%

Personal Essay or Cross-genre Essay: 25%

Interview Debrief Presentation: 5%

Interview or Response Paper on an Interview: 15%

Final (Open Source) Argumentative Essay: 25%

Attendance & Participation: 10%

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


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 to 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.


Student Presentation: Research, and analyze the assigned source from the syllabus. Present your breakdown based on the following questions (5 minutes):

  1. What are the central ideas of this writer-thinker, or artist?
  2. Analyze one specific section by your chosen Latina 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

Option One: Personal Essay


Write a personal essay in relation to one of the sources and topics discussed in the class.

A personal essay is a short work of autobiographical nonfiction characterized by a sense of intimacy and a conversational manner. Personal essays relate to the author’s intimate thoughts and experiences to a larger experience or analysis. They aren’t simply a retelling of events. They involve a learning process and often present some insight that challenges the reader to draw their own conclusions.

  1. Paragraph 1: Introduce a personal experience and its relationship to a source discussed in the class. Informally summarize the main points that you will discuss in your essay.
  2. Paragraphs 2 and 3: Choose, analyze, and narrate two relevant moments in your life that illustrate your connections with the topic at hand. Explain them in your own words. Why do you think these experiences are important? How and why they connect with one of the course’ sources and classroom discussions? Do you agree with the views expressed by your chosen author, thinker, artist? Do you disagree? Why?
  3. Paragraph 4: Re-state the main themes and intentions behind your personal narrative. How reflecting and telling it allows you to better understand yourself and to have a more nuanced worldview? How your personal discussion intervenes in the larger conversations we are having in the class?

(3-4 pages/ Double Space/ Times New Roman/ Font Size: 12)

Option Two: Cross-genre Essay

Write a poem or short story along with a shorter personal essay in relation to one of the sources and topics discussed in the class. Refer to the personal essay instructions.

(3-4 pages/ Double Space/ Times New Roman/ Font Size: 12)



Option 1: Personal Interview


  1. Interview a Latina based on your interests as a student.

You will be asking 5 questions of your choosing based on these open categories:

. Upbringing and homeland

. Language

. Education

. Migration (if applicable) and cultural retention

. Challenges in the US as a Latina


  1. Write an introduction presenting your subject and your take on the interview and a conclusion in which you summarize the main points discussed in the conversation.

(3-4 pages/ Double Space/ Times New Roman/ Font Size: 12)


Option 2: Response Paper on an Interview


  1. Select, watch, listen, or read ONE interview (from the interview archive) with a Latina artist or thinker.
  2. Write a response paper using the following format:
  3. Paragraph 1: Introduce the person interviewed. Explain how the person is presented by the interviewer and summarize the main points discussed in the conversation.
  4. Paragraphs 2 and 3: Choose and analyze two relevant excerpts from the interview. Explain them in your own words. Why do you think these sections are important? How and why they resonate with you? Do you agree with the opinions expressed? Do you disagree? Why?
  5. Paragraph 4: Re-state the main themes and intentions behind the interview. How it allows you to understand better the person’s work and worldviews? Would you recommend the interview? Why? To whom?

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


  1. Briefly introduce the person you interviewed or the person you selected from the interview archive.
  2. What was a key moment in your/their interaction? What moment/idea/experience/exchanged surprised you or was impactful?
  3. What is your main takeaway? How to conduct interviews allows us to think beyond traditional academic formats and the classroom?



Option 1: Argumentative Essay


  1. Select one of the research questions.
  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).
  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


  1. Select one of the research questions.
  2. Record a podcast 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.

*A podcast 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.*

Podcast Episode: 8-10 minutes (individual); 12-15 minutes (pairs)



(1)_______________ (concise introduction of your topic). (2)___________________ (presentation of the text(s) and author(s) you are going to analyze). (3) __________________ (analytical-question in direct relationship to the texts you are analyzing). (4)___________ I will argue that_________________ (your thesis statement on the texts).

Body Paragraphs

You analyze relevant sections and bring evidence to support your thesis statement from the primary sources.


(1) In this essay I examined the (theme)______________ in ______________ (work (s) and author(s)). (2) I argued that_____________ and I brought evidence from the following sections _____________.  (3) In conclusion, I found that this author(s) deal with these themes to _______________. (4) In my opinion _____________ (closing statement).


Statement on Academic Honesty: Learning involves the pursuit of honesty and dialogue which cannot be pursued 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:

For further discussion of plagiarism and clarification of its parameters, see the online plagiarism tutorial prepared by members of the Newman Library faculty at:

If questions remain, ask me.

For the record, if you violate the guidelines of academic honesty you will receive a zero for the assignment.

Statement on Missing and Late Work: Late work has an increasing penalty. After the deadline, for each day you miss, you will be deducted 2 points. If you have concerns about assignment due dates or the use of technology on a regular basis, 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: All readings will be available on Blackboard as PDFs and on our course blog.

Language: 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


If you are in any need of assistance beyond that which I can provide, please contact the following departments/individuals:

Baruch Computer and Technology Center (BCTC): For technology-based help including logging in to your Baruch account, Blackboard access, Baruch student email, assistive technology, CUNYFirst, and more.

646-312-1010 (M-F: 8am-8pm)

The Writing Center: For an online chat or written feedback on writing assignments. They can help with argument, thesis, organization, grammar, and more.

646-312-4012 (M-F: 10am-8pm)

Dean of Students: For a wide range of services (e.g., food or housing assistance, counseling, health resources, DACA concerns, etc).

Here is the one-stop link:

Students with disabilities who may need additional services in this online format please contact Disability Services at for confidential assistance