Current Courses (Spring 2023)

Contemporary Latin American Fiction

Contemporary Latin American Fiction is an enlivening class that delves into the rich and diverse cultural landscape of Latin America and the Caribbean. From the powerful and moving short fiction of prominent voices like Roberto Bolaño and Edwidge Danticat to the new thought-provoking film of emerging filmmaker Nathalie Álvarez Mesén, this class offers a dynamic and engaging exploration of how literature and film reflect and shape the social, political, and cultural realities of the region. Through different self-directed learning projects, you will have the opportunity to analyze and discuss a wide range of texts and films (and a live performance!) and gain insights into the unique perspectives of some of the most talented and influential creators in contemporary Latin American culture. You will notice that these literary, cinematic, and graphic texts challenge borders and fixed national constructs, presenting hemispheric fluidity and archipelagic flows instead. We will examine present-day crises, of course. Still, all the inventive ways Latin American and Caribbean people use to survive, envision futures, narrate their realities, and create spaces for self-reliance and hope.

Latine/x Communities in the US

Latinx Communities in the US is a vital class that delves into the rich and diverse experiences of Latinx individuals and communities in the United States. The course explores a variety of lenses, including history, culture, politics, and social justice. Engaging directly with the Black and Latino Studies Department’s “Afro-Latinidades” series and symposium this semester, students will have the opportunity to focus on the unique contributions and challenges Afro-Latinx communities face and gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of race and ethnicity in the US. Students will examine the lives, struggles, and joys of (Afr0) Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban, Mexican, and Central American migrants through memoirs, personal essays, poetry, documentaries, and cinematic fiction. By examining these complementary narratives and themes, we will explore issues of (neo) colonialism, gender, sexuality, race, social class, migration, urban life, and access to citizenship, resources, and institutions. This class provides a chance to gain a new entry point of understanding US society and learn and grow, academically and personally, engaging with the world around you in a meaningful way.

The People of New York

“The People of New York” is an Honors College Seminar that takes you through the diverse and vibrant culture of one of the world’s most iconic cities. From the hustle and bustle of Manhattan to the cultural melting pot of Queens and Brooklyn, we will learn about the people who make New York City one of the most dynamic places on earth. We’ll explore entry points into the history, culture, and current events that shape the lives of New Yorkers and gain a deep understanding of the unique boroughs and communities that make up this incredible city. Our class will ask how my perception of New York City is constructed. What cultural input influences my (always partial) understanding of the city? What his/her-stories mirror or distort my circumstances in the concrete jungle? In which ways religion, culture, gender, race, migration, and ethnicity have shaped my lived experiences and those of other New Yorkers and sojourners? To address these questions, we will build an autobiographical project to center our vision of the city. We will also practice ethnographic research and oral her/history to incorporate the points of view of family members, neighbors, and friends into a collective portrait. By examining and creating these complementary narratives, we will explore issues of (neo) colonialism, sexuality, social class, migration, and access to citizenship, resources, and institutions.

Past Courses


 A diverse Afro-descendant population, mainly from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America, has complicated the topic of what it is to be Black in the United States. 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.

Latina/o/x Literature in the US

Something is exciting about stepping into a world we recognize but gatekeepers have hidden. Latinx Literature presents an imaginative richness that we want and deserve to (re) experience. It illuminates underrepresented views, discourses, and creativity. This student-centered course intends to broaden the knowledge and understanding of Latinx’s historical and present-day literary contributions to the US. We will read various literary genres, including poetry, novel, theater, graphic narratives, film, memoirs, testimonies, and fiction. The course will explore maroon and decolonial poetics, urban and rural tales, gender and sexuality, speculative fiction, and Black and Indigenous storytelling. While paying attention to historical, linguistic, critical, and cultural contexts, we will see how these texts inform the present understanding of Latinx cultural and political identities. These narratives will let us explore cimarronaje, citizenship or its lack, socioeconomics, ecologies, and political and racial constructions. They will allow us a space to study and (re)imagine Latinx yesterday, today, and tomorrow. 

Debates in Latin American Social Theory

The concept of Black and indigenous ecology builds up from the fact that processes derived from imperialism, colonization, and racialization have created direct and indirect segregation policy and the establishing of literal and symbolic borders that separate the elites from the historically marginalized. The creation of different environments reflects the violently imposed hierarchies of power and the ways the Western hemisphere was founded on stolen land, built through the labor of stolen lives and the destruction of ecosystems. The mainstream solutions set forth by the current political and economic powers for the “ecological crisis” are reformist and evasive of the social and political transformation that Black and indigenous environmental sustainability demands. This course will examine Latin American, Caribbean, US Native American, and Afro-diasporic ecological thought, poetics, audiovisual media, and actions.  During the first part of the semester, we will explore maroon history, logic, and afterlives. The second half will be dedicated to examining hemispheric fights for indigenous sovereignty and the exploration of responsible ways of being and relating to our planet Earth and manifesting futures.

Latin America: An Institutional and Cultural Survey

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.

Latinx Screens; Film, TV, and Video

This course provides a survey of Latinx audiovisual works to broaden the knowledge and understanding of the historical and present-day cultural contributions of Latinx groups in the United States. Through asynchronous viewings and assignments and synchronous discussions of feature films, documentaries, TV episodes, and music videos (made by or about Latinos/as/x) this class will provide a holistic introduction to Film Theory and Cultural Studies. Throughout the semester, we will explore audiovisual narratives and themes influential to major Latinx communities while problematizing issues of (neo) colonialism, patterns of representation, gender, sexuality, race, social class, migration, urban life, and access to citizenship.

Puerto Rican Culture

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.

Latin American and the Caribbean: Cultures and Societies

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.

Latinas: A Social and Cultural Survey

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 pays focuses on the poetics of Mexican, Salvadoran, and Cuban descendants. The course will also analyze US 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.

Introduction to Puerto Rican and Latinx Studies

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an interdisciplinary survey of Puerto Rican & Latinx Studies to broaden the knowledge and understanding of the historical and present-day social, economic, and cultural contributions of Latinx in the United States. Drawing from various disciplines including theater, film, documentary and socio-cultural studies, the course will explore the emergence of ethnic studies programs, issues and constructs surrounding class, race, language, and ethnic identities within Latinx communities, the Afro-Indigenous legacy in the Caribbean, the impact of the United States’ policies on the island of Puerto Rico, anti-colonial performance, the climate, humanitarian and political crisis in Puerto Rico.

Latinx Remaking The US

This writing-intensive course is an interdisciplinary cultural survey of Latinx (im)migrants in the U.S. It will explore comparative ethnic relations and struggles for community representation and persistence. The course will analyze Chicanx and Central American labor, poetics and narratives, education and immigration in Latinx communities, racial politics in Hip Hop culture, Dominican and trans-Caribbean musical legacy, issues of Puerto Rican representation within the U.S. (through a musical frame) and queer Latinx comedy. The objective of the class is to facilitate entries into Latinx culture and identities while framing the fight for cultural visibility, civil educational and labor rights, and artistic platforms in the U.S.

Latino/a Diasporas in the US

This course is an interdisciplinary socio-political-cultural survey of Latinx communities in the U.S. It will explore comparative ethnic relations and struggles for community representation and persistence. The course will analyze the legacy of indigenous revolutionary movements in México and worldviews within Chicanx feminists, the cultural narratives of Salvadoran migrants, Afro Diasporic poetics within Dominicans, Puerto Rican climate migrants and aesthetics of liberation, educational and linguistic struggles among Latinxs and New York as a Latino/a/x diasporic city. The objective of the class is to facilitate entries into Latin American and Latinx culture and identities while framing the fight for visibility, human rights and artistic platforms in the hemisphere and the U.S.

Caribbean Literature

This writing-intensive course will connect the Spanish Speaking Antillas, the West Indies, and the French islands to examine “Caribbean literature” concerning the slave era, plantation society, workers and labor, the colonial legacy, tourism, and diaspora. Some literary perspectives to engage with are black poetics, (de) colonization and liberation, and diasporic imaginations. Our historical frame of reference throughout the semester will include the African slave trade, the construction of Europe and the United States as a civilized “homeland”, and the search for political and cultural self-determination. The emphasis will be on the in-depth analysis of literary texts by Afro-Caribbean writers while paying attention to historical, linguistic and cultural contexts. We will see how these texts – essays, fiction, and poetry- informs the present understanding of Caribbean cultural identity.

Puerto Rican, Chicanx and Latinx Literature

The purpose of this seminar is to provide students with a survey of Puerto Rican, Chicanx & Latinx Literature with the intention of broadening the knowledge and understanding of the historical and present-day cultural contributions of Latinx in the United States. Drawing from various literary genres including poetry, essays, theater, memoir and fiction, the course will explore poetics of liberation in Puerto Rico, Nuyorican surrealism, Chicanx, and Dominican gender constructions, and Afro-descendant storytelling. The emphasis will be on the in-depth analysis of literary texts by Latinx writers while paying attention to historical, linguistic and cultural contexts. We will see how these texts inform the present understanding of Latinx cultural identities.

Writing Through Literature: Caribbean Diasporas

“Writing Through Literature: Caribbean Diasporas” will explore Caribbean communities in the United States and England. Through the study of three literary genres: drama, fiction, and poetry, we will see how writers unmask, propose solutions to social struggles, perform, and give visibility to diverse Caribbean experiences. We will also analyze how they establish or contradict notions of identity, gender, race, and community. Along with them, we will reflect on our writing about narrative and poetic content, style and analytical expressions. Formally, this course extends and intensifies the skills you have learned in Composition I, including process-based writing, research methods, MLA citation, and online dialogue. You will learn close-reading techniques to develop your critical thinking and writing skills further.

Latin American Literature

This course, conducted in Spanish, examine the most salient cultural and literary movements since postmodernism (understood broadly). Topics to be covered include postmodernism, social realism, the avant-garde, the experimental novel, Afro Caribbean aesthetics, diasporic poetics urbanization and resulting alienation, the fantastic and others. The course will explore the diversity of the Latin American experience as reflected mainly in its literary, visual and musical texts. We will read, view and listen to cultural products from a range of genres and media (poetry, narrative, film, video and popular music) in order to reflect upon significant artistic trends, political and intellectual movements throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

Literatura Latinoamericana

Este curso se inspira en tres movimientos de justicia social contemporánea en los Estados Unidos: la lucha ambientalista indígena contra el Dakota Access Pipe Line, el activismo de Black Lives Matter y de los distintos grupos Latinx. Si bien no nos enfocaremos directamente en estos fenómenos sociales de E.U., a partir de ellos nos preguntaremos y examinaremos como latinoamérica en el siglo 20 y 21 se relaciona y crea textos diversos en torno a las comunidades indígenas, negras y diásporicas del hemisferio. En vez de crear un muro mental separando latinoamerica de los Estados Unidos trazaremos puentes y conexiones constantes entre la situación actual en nuestra geografía y las manifestaciones culturales modernas y contemporáneas del continente.

Al hablar de las experiencias indígenas, Afro y diásporicas de latinoamérica, mantendremos la consciencia de la fluidez, la diversidad, las tensiones y contradicciones de las mismas. Los resultados intelectuales y vivenciales del curso no serán exhaustivos, más bien parciales. Se trata de una invitación a mantener el trabajo mental, emocional, performatico y corporal en torno a estos temas e identidades.

Arts in New York City

“The Arts in New York City” introduces students to a range of artistic forms, venues, media, and movements in the art mecca that is New York City.  In this intensive cycle, students will be exposed to visual and performance practices as well as different art institutions. They will explore a broad range of art forms through texts, images, and experiential components (visits to museums, galleries, art workshops, film screenings). Students will be introduced to and develop visual literacy skills by closely and carefully examining works of art, discussing their observations, and supporting their views using evidence from the artworks. Students will develop the critical visual literacy skills needed to discuss meaning and interpretation, audience, source, access, and the impact of works of art on the individual. Course assignments include interpretation, analysis, and synthesis.

Cities in Film and Literature

Since the invention of cinema in the late 19th century, writers and filmmakers across the globe have turned their gaze to the modern city both as a narrative setting and dramatic subject for films and literary texts in a variety of modes and genres. Challenging mainstream points of view, this course will focus in underrepresented urban groups to explore the diverse experience of black, Latinx and Latin Americans, Caribbean, Asian, and Arab communities in the United States and other countries. The course will examine a range of films and literary pieces from the beginnings of the silent era to the present, offering visions of urban life both reaffirming and conflictive.