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Latin@ American Cultural Topics

This course studies trends in thought, art, film, music, social practices, in the Spanish speaking Americas, including the United States. Topics may include colonialism, race, class, ethnicity, modernization, ecology, religion, gender, and popular culture.

Requisites: Prerequisite, SPAN 261 or 267.
Gen Ed: BN, GL.

Instructor: Prof. Alicia Rivero

Studying how nature is represented in Latin(a) American texts will help us to better understand the peoples, cultures, environment, history, politics, economic development, and societies of the regions that we will explore. We’ll
probe such topics as:

  • Environment, colonization, resistance, and survival of Native Americans.
  • Economic development and environmental destruction.
  • Environmental racism and justice.
  • Nature viewed as female and as Other; woman and minorities viewed as nature and as Other.
  • Traditional male and female gender roles in Spanish America (machismo and marianismo) and how they are changing.

Our authors come from several Spanish-speaking countries and Brazil, as well as a Chicana from the US: Menchú, Quiroga, Fuentes, Bombal, Burgos, Lispector, and Castillo, respectively. They criticize stereotypical views and racial prejudice, decry ecocide, as well as celebrate difference and nature as a protagonist in a testimonial narrative, short stories, poetry, and a novel. Texts may vary due to availability.

Work for the Course: (1) an oral presentation; (2) a research paper that either expands your presentation or is on another topic you choose; (3) a final exam; (4) two tests. Active class participation is expected.

Prerequisite: SPAN 261 or 267

Instructor: Prof. Gosia Lee

Span 344 covers several exciting topics: like environment in Latin America. Students will view documentary about Latin America and the Caribbean titled: Riqueza Viva and will discuss biodiversity, sustainability and ecotourism in this region. Globalization will be covered by viewing the documentary: ¿Por qué quebró McDonald’s en Bolivia? and the movie También la lluvia (about water wars in Cochabamba Bolivia in 2000). This class will also discuss poverty, hopes, dreams and drugs through documentary like La mina del diablo and the movie María llena eres de gracia. Inmigration and economic, political and social aspects of it, will be discussed through documentary titled ¿Cuál es el camino a casa? and the movie El Norte. The final topic of the class will be feminism and the situation of women in Hispanic countries through documentary titled: Nosotras, centroamericanas.  In addition to cultural topics, movies, songs and readings, students will have an extensive review of major grammatical points in context. The class is taught in an interactive way with Lesson Tools posted on sakai and lots of audiovisual material in addition to a cultural textbooks and readings.  Each chapter will also include songs related to the topics discussed in each class.

Prerequisite: SPAN 261 or 267

PREVIOUS SEMESTERS

Instructor: Prof. Juan Carlos González-Espitia

The street. La calle. Eating, people-watching, window-shopping, protesting, partying, praying, recycling, bartering. Graffiti, statues, ads, stands, poems, pickpockets. When we think of the dynamism of Latin American and Latinx communities in the U.S., the images of public spaces come to our mind. Streets are central to economic transactions, social interactions, political gatherings, religious processions, festivals, spectacles, and public art. In this course we will study how the dynamism of the streets reveals nuanced knowledge about Latin American and Latinx culture. Taco trucks in Carrboro; conquistador statues falling down in Cali or Bogotá; soneros performing for tourists in Havana; Candombe drumming in Montevideo; a politician talking to a crowd in San Salvador; or Las tesis feminist activist group protesting in the front of a public building in Santiago are some of the examples we will discuss to understand how public space reveals intersections between gender, race, ethnicity, class, politics, and power in Latin America and in Latinx diaspora communities.

NOTE: This course is taught online and in Spanish

Prerequisite: SPAN 261 or 267

Instructor: Prof. Emil’ Keme

How do ideas of race and ethnicity originate in and have shaped Latin American societies since the second half of the 20th century? How do race and ethnicity intersect with nationhood, class and gender? How do Indigenous and Black writers and artists address and challenge ideas of race and ethnicity through their work? Using an intersectional framework, this course will address the answers to these questions by critically examining the social, cultural, and political constructions of race and ethnicity as they are represented in contemporary Indigenous and Black literatures, music, essays and film.  
The course will be very dynamic and it will include lectures, discussions, critical responses to the course materials and guest speakers. To supplement lectures and assigned readings, students will also be exposed to other primary documents that include newspaper articles, essays, music, interviews, and visual materials in order to explore issues of race and ethnicity in their diverse and multiple manifestations.

Prerequisite: SPAN 261 or 267

Instructor: Francisco Y Chen-López

This class aims to critically probe the representation of the transpacific intersections between China and its diasporic communities in Latin America in literature, film, visual arts, and culinary arts. Students will discuss various topics in this class, including (hybrid) identity, discrimination, narratives, race and ethnicity, popular culture, and violence, among others. Through these discussions, students will acquire a better understanding of the racial and cultural diversity in Spanish-speaking countries and regions as part of the preparation for gaining the necessary cultural intelligence and empathy to succeed in their future professions.

Prerequisite: SPAN 261 or 267

Instructor: Prof. Oswaldo Estrada

The goal of this course is to critically examine Latin American migration, borders, and the construction of hybrid identities in the U.S. The course explores, among other themes and topics, coloniality, imperialism, discrimination, violence, race, religion, popular culture, and gender. The goals of the course are to broaden the understanding of Latin/o America; to be aware of its diversity and cultural wealth; to critically reflect on the formation and development of its cultural manifestations; to establish a dialogue between the students’ own culture and that of Latina/o immigrants, while questioning and revising current stereotypes; to grasp and critically analyze a variety of texts in Spanish and English from different origins and genres; and to relate texts and acquired knowledge with the historical moment and the cultural environment in which they have been produced.

Instructor: Prof. Alicia Rivero

Explore historical and current events, film and multimedia, as well as selected 19th and 20th century literary works to discover not only why the Mexico/US border, but also immigration have become controversial issues. To understand these, we’ll probe: (1) How they are defined in Spanish America and the US; (2) Intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, nation, and the transnational; (3) (Post-)colonialism, slavery, transculturation, hybridity, stereotypes, diaspora, criminalization of immigration in the US, labor practices, ethics, etc.

How do ideas of race and ethnicity originate in and have shaped Latin American societies since the second half of the 20th century? How do race and ethnicity intersect with nationhood, class and gender? How do Indigenous and Black writers and artists’ address and challenge ideas of race and ethnicity in their work? Using an intersectional framework, this course will address the answers to these questions by critically examining the social, cultural, and political constructions of race and ethnicity and its consequences as they are represented in contemporary Indigenous and Black literatures, music and film. Some of the authors to be studied include: Domitila Barrios de Chungara (Aymara), Martín Tonalmeyotl (Nahuatl), Maya Cu Choc (Q’eq’chi Maya), Gladys Potosí (Kichwa), Victoria Santa Cruz, Lelia Gonzalez, Nancy Morejon, Shirley Campbell Barr, Manuel Zapata Olivella and Quince Duncan.

Note: This course is also part of the UNC Global’s Connecting Carolina Classrooms with the World initiative through Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL). Students enrolled in this course will have the opportunity to interact and collaborate in research assignments with students from Universidad de San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), Ecuador, during a five-week module.

Instructional mode: synchronous remote

Explore historical and current events, film and multimedia, as well as selected 19th and 20th century literary works to discover not only why the Mexico/US border, but also immigration have become controversial issues.  To understand these, we’ll probe:

  • How they are defined in Spanish America and the US.
  • Intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, nation, and the transnational.
  • (Post)colonialism, slavery, transculturation, hybridity, stereotypes, diaspora, criminalization of immigration in the US, labor practices, ethics, etc.

This course will explore the representation of various types of intimate relationships in Mexican theatre, narrative, poetry, cinema, and pop culture. Although romantic relationships between men and women will be included, our investigation will beyond this obvious category to incorporate other kinds of romantic relationships, relationships with God, and the idealized self with the lived self. To this end, we will target the following goals:

  • To develop skills for the analysis of various types of artistic expression
  • To identify themes or patterns in the representation of various types of intimate relationships
  • To relate form and context to function
  • To communicate observations orally and in writing
  • To explore Mexican culture with a specific focus

This course looks at the intersections of labor movements, race, and gender in locations on all three sides of the Spanish-Cuban-American war: Durham, NC, A Coruña, Spain, and Ybor City Florida. We will build connections and comparisons between the three sides, not to affix blame, but to complicate the narrative of the war and to deepen our understanding of this pivotal moment in cultural history. The course will also enter into some of the history and function of the nineteenth century tobacco industry, both as a mirror for the times and as a hotbed of political activism.

These three tobacco towns work well together because they offer different formulations of the same process. Whereas Ybor’s factories were integrated racially and in terms of sex, the factory in A Coruña was staffed only by women, with their nimble fingers and their lower wages. While Durham and Ybor are both in the South, the ways that they reacted to and interacted with reconstruction and the Jim Crow era, let alone their reckonings of the purpose and importance of the war in 1898, vary wildly. Durham is also a cigarette factory, so a slightly different process, with less artistry, leading to different relationships between owners and workers than can be seen in the other locations.

Readings for this class will be in both Spanish and English, and will include a large number of primary documents from the Nineteenth Century (newspapers, advertisements, political cartoons), in addition to political essay, novels, poetry, and film. More information on the course can be found at: https://rhirjo.wixsite.com/rolling344

Early Latin American writing reflected both indigenous exchange with the natural environment, and European astonishment at new flora and fauna. Forests, deserts, rivers, and oceans have figured in modern Latin American literature as the romantic locus of an original “Latin America”; as obstacles in the constitution of national sovereignties; or as what needed to be saved in order to avoid a catastrophic future. Writing and film were at times used to reinforce humankind’s domain over nature, and other times to create visions of a world in which the human and the non-human affect each other. Beginning with a couple of colonial-era texts, the course will focus on different ways modern and contemporary Latin American cultural production engaged with the environment.