Syllabus

Course: LTS 1003 ETRA (48301): Latin America: An Institutional and Cultural Survey

Professor: Rojo Robles, PhD

Email: rojo.roblesmejias@baruch.cuny.edu

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

Office (student) hours: Thursdays from 1:00-2:20 pm in-person (Office 4-272) or via zoom. This designated time is to discuss any questions, needs, or concerns about the class. We can meet briefly if you have a quick question or schedule a longer session if you need help with coursework or content. If you would prefer to meet at some other time, that is also a possibility, just write me an e-mail and we could set up a meeting time that works for both of us.

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

Class meets:  Thursdays from 2:30-3:45 pm in-person (Room B-Vert 9-150) or via zoom + weekly online posts. Please note that we will consider in-person sessions after 09/23/2021.

Weekly announcements: Tuesdays

Institutional course description: The course is an overview of Latin America’s historical, cultural, and political development, from pre-Columbian times to the present. It focuses on the major indigenous civilizations, the history of slavery, the conquest and colonization, as well as the twentieth-century revolutions and dictatorships within the framework of US relations. The current debates on free trade, migration, the environment, and socialism are also addressed.

Course description for this section: This interdisciplinary hybrid course examines the indigenous and black experience in Latin American history, society, and culture from pre-colonial times to the present. It will look specifically at European and US colonialism and imperialism while presenting ongoing decolonial, and anti-racist struggles. It will emphasize socio-cultural and political contributions among Latin Americans and the implications of these manifestations for the formation of transnational identities. Lastly, we will explore the notion of hybrid nationalisms in relationship to various US Latinx communities.

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 will be designed from the learner’s perspective. Each student will select their learning path via an option-based practice.

Community building and zoom: The pandemic is still affecting many communities and people. Our physical and mental health are priorities. Because of that, many of our sessions will be on zoom. We will decide as a group the frequency of our in-person encounters.  While zoom allows us to get together virtually, it does not get close to the real thing. We will lose body language, nods, interrogative gestures, sounds, and smiles. 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.  When in zoom, let’s 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 Latin America.

. Deepen knowledge of the cultural values, traditions, achievements, and history of indigenous, (Afro) Latin Americans and Caribbean people.

. Demonstrate knowledge of the dynamics of colonialism, race, ethnicity, class, migration, and diasporic formations concerning the experience of Latin Americans.

. Evaluate the effects of U.S. political, economic, and military intervention in Latin America.

. Articulate experiences of resistance, racial, and cultural affirmation in a transnational context.

. Interpret the content, discourse, and form of historical, literary, sound and film work through different writing styles: the blog post, the creative writing piece, the argumentative essay, or audio piece.

. Take ownership of the content, determine how it will be useful or relevant to them, and build the connections to allow learning to happen.

. Discuss, debate, and get inspired to keep learning about contemporary issues in Latin America and keep engaging in Black, Latin American, and Latinx Studies.

Statement on grades and assessments: Grades do not reflect the subjective character of learning nor societal issues of access and equity. Everybody learns in different and complex ways that grades usually cannot reflect. This course will focus on qualitative assessment. Qualitative assessment is motivated by the intention of understanding how people make meaning of and experience the sources they engage with, something we will discuss further during the class. While you will get a final grade at the end of the semester, I will not be grading individual assignments, but rather commenting and asking questions that engage your work.

Grade breakdown: 

Online posts (3% each x 10): 30%

Oral/slide presentation: 10%

Midterm project + self-evaluation: 25%

Final project + self-evaluation: 25%

Attendance & participation: 10%

Online survey: 3 extra credit points

*Attendance and participation include in-person and zoom sessions. *

Self-evaluation: You will reflect critically on your own learning (with specific questions and rubrics) and evaluate your midterm and final project. After interacting with your work, I will give you feedback on your midterm and optionally of your final. If there is a disparity between your self-evaluations and my appreciation of your work, I will reach out to discuss it with you.

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: Students are encouraged to attend and be on time for all in-person and zoom sessions and to submit online posts. If you are having issues with your access to the Internet or attending in-person or synchronous zoom 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:

Oral/slide presentation

Research and analyze an assigned source from the syllabus. Present your breakdown orally and with slides based on the following questions (5-8 minutes):

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

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

. Pose a critical question about the text to the group.

Midterm project

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

Option 1: Argumentative essay

Instructions

. Select one of the research questions developed collaboratively.

. 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 presenting supporting evidence from the primary source(s). You may also use secondary sources that you find during your research.

. 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:  Creative writing project

Instructions:

. Choose a source discussed in the class that had an impact on you intellectually, emotionally, and creatively. Consider one of the research questions developed collaboratively.

. Respond to the selected source and question through a short story, a short poetry collection, or a script (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.

. In a reflective essay (2 pages) describe your creative process. Reflect on what have you learned from your chosen work? Discuss how your creative writing piece integrates, interacts with, and/or replies to the main ideas presented by the primary source? How has this exercise helped you integrate past experiences into your sense of identity and/or worldview?

Final project

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

Option 1: Argumentative essay

Instructions

. Select one of the research questions developed collaboratively.

. 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 presenting supporting evidence from the primary source(s). You may also use secondary sources that you find during your research.

. 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

. Select one of the research questions developed collaboratively.

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

. 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 sections presenting supporting evidence from the primary source(s). You may also use secondary sources that you find during your research.

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

Option 3: Social media project

Instructions

. Select one of the research questions developed collaboratively.

. Create a social media project (a Twitter thread; an annotated playlist; a series of Instagram photos or 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.

. 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 sections presenting supporting evidence from the primary source(s).

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

*A podcast or social media 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. *

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.

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. 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

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

Looking for a minor or 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 by people of African and Latin American descent, including the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Our courses practice skills in critical thinking and analysis, advanced writing, communication, and research. They also engage digital literacies, collaboration, and project management— important workforce skills. The interdisciplinary structure of our courses also offers excellent preparation for graduate school and careers in education, the law, business, public relations, marketing, journalism, the arts, and education.