Syllabus

Course: LTS 3007 EMWA – Puerto Rican Culture

Lecturer: Rojo Robles, PhD

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

Office (Student) Hours: Mondays 1:20 PM- 2:20 PM *by email or Zoom.*

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

Class Meets: Mondays 2:30 PM -3:45 PM via Zoom + asynchronous work

Weekly Announcements: Wednesdays

Institutional Course Description: The principal varieties of Puerto Rican cultural expression, both on the island and in the U.S., are examined in detail. Special attention is given to folk culture, including traditional beliefs, legends, customs, festivals, religious rites, artistic productions, popular poetry, dance and folk medicine, and typical music.

Course Description for this Section: The varieties of Puerto Rican cultural expression (both on the archipelago and in the U.S.) have kept an interest in highlighting the Afro-Taino and Hispanic roots. But Puerto Rican culture is not a monolith and it is always evolving. This interdisciplinary course that will combine synchronous discussions and asynchronous assignments will examine island life and Caribbean affiliations. It will also pay attention to the Puerto Rican diaspora in New York. As a way to acknowledge the diversity of Puerto Rican culture, we will read poetry, novels, historical and critical essays. We will watch documentaries and videos and listen to songs and podcasts. This course intends to offer entry points into a complex and contradictory culture that consistently challenges structures of local and imperial power and that establishes a critique of colonialism and its effects on identity formations and national discourses.

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 (options-based) 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 Puerto Rico and its diaspora.

. Deepen knowledge of the cultural values, traditions, achievements, and history of Puerto Rican, Caribbean, and Latinx people.

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

. Evaluate the effects of U.S. political, economic, and military intervention in Puerto Rico.

. 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.

. Discuss, debate, and —hopefully— get inspired to keep learning about contemporary issues in Puerto Rico and its diaspora and keep engaging in Black, Latin American, and Latino Studies.

Course Assignments and Grade Breakdown: 

Blog Engagements (3% x 9): 25% + 2% extra-credit

Online Survey + One-on-one Session: 5 points extra credit

One Oral/Slide Presentation: 10%

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

Final Project: 25%

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 3-4 pages/ 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:
  3. The topic, source, and author from the course that you will be having a dialogue with and a research question.
  4. A preliminary central idea or argument that you will be trying to convey through the project and the written reflection.
  5. 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:  Creative 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:
  3. The topic, source, and author you will be having a dialogue with and getting inspired by.
  4. The creative writing project or digital visual artwork that you will be doing and the reason behind your decision.
  5. A preliminary central idea or argument that you will be trying to convey through the project and the written reflection.
  6. Respond to the selected source through a creative writing project (a poem, a theater dialogue, a short story, or a hybrid text) or a digital visual artwork (a collage, an illustration, a photographic series, or a hybrid piece) based on the following prompts:

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 short essay (2 pages) reflect on what have you learned from your chosen work? Discuss how your piece 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?

Proposal Sample

Sebastián Robiou Lamarche describes in “Taino Mythology and Cosmology” how Taino myths, oral storytelling, and cosmological views offer us a sense of their society, culture, and ways of living.  To engage with this source, I will be doing a digital comic/graphic strip illustrating the Tainos metaphysical realm along with concise subtitles. I will focus on Atabey, mother of the supreme spirit Yaya and Itiba Cahubaba, the great birthing mother. Just like Robiou Lamarche (pages 106-110), I will argue that Atabey, the mother of the waters represents “the first female source ” and Itiba, mother earth. By interpreting these myths, I will argue that these female deities let us grasp the Taino respect for nature, their matrilineal socio-political order, and the importance of women in their society.

 

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 (with suggestions from the students.)
  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.

(4-5 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 (with suggestions from the students.)
  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 Ernesto Quiñonez’s book Bodega Dreams, all readings will be available on Blackboard as PDFs.

Required Book: Quiñonez, Ernesto. Bodega Dreams. Vintage Books, 2020.

Languages: I will conduct the class in English, but you can 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.