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Latina/o Studies and Writing in the Humanities

Latina/o Studies is a vibrant field that intersects with many disciplines; to develop a full picture of the field Latina/o Studies often requires transdisciplinary research. Latina/o Studies scholars have conducted a lot of rich research in the humanities, including, but certainly not limited to, English, Romance Studies, Art History, Music, and History departments. Given the complexity and immensity of this field, as you design your lesson plan, you may choose a subfield that will narrow your students’ focus, while still allowing them to engage in research related to Latina/o Studies.

This page is designed to introduce you to some of the trends in Latina/o Studies and provide you with ideas and guidance to help you design a humanities unit. This page also includes two sample Unit Assignments. Instructors may directly incorporate the sample unit assignment into their syllabi, but the assignments are also designed so that instructors can easily modify and adjust the sample to align with their goals for the unit.

What Are Some of the Major Topics at the Intersection of Latina/o Studies and the Humanities that my class might explore?

Like any discipline, the field of Latina/o Studies is constantly evolving. The following list is not intended to be comprehensive, but rather is designed to demonstrate the breadth of topics germane to Latina/o Studies:

  • Latina/o/x feminisms and intersectional feminism
  • LatinX environmentalisms
  • Impacts and intersections of Colonialism and US Imperialism
  • Intersections of race and ethnicity
  • Migrant labor and labor rights/history
  • Afro-Latina/o/x lived experiences and cultural production
  • The impacts and implications of terminology including LatinX, Latinx, Latina/o, Latin@, Latino, and Hispanic
    • Questions about terminology are part of a rich, ongoing conversation in this field. In this document, we use Latina/o to refer to Latina/o Studies and the UNC Latina/o Studies Program. In all other circumstances, we use Latina/o/x. Some scholars have argued for the broad use of LatinX. For more on terminology see Claudia Milian’s LatinX.9
  • Hybridity
  • Immigration
  • Impacts of gentrification
  • State violence
  • Language, bilingualism, and codeswitching
  • Latina/o/x Education in the United States
  • Identity formation
  • Visual culture
  • Militarization of the US/Mexico border
  • Activism and social organizing
  • Theater and performance
 
As an Instructor, What Can I Incorporate into a Humanities-Based Latina/o Studies Unit?

A useful starting point for instructors is to consider where their own expertise might intersect with Latina/o Studies, and then conducting supplementary research to help build your assignment. For example, if you specialize in 19th century transcendentalism and environmental humanities, you might consider designing a unit assignment that centers on Latina/o/x environmentalisms.

You might also consider using current events, campus performances, community resources to anchor your unit assignment. The Latina/o Studies Program Staff are available for consultation as you embark on creating or modifying a unit assignment.

It may be useful to incorporate a short text or piece of art as an object of analysis, such as a poem, a short film, a song, a photograph, or a piece of artwork. You may consider having one common object of analysis (such as a performance) or provide a list of works and allow students to choose one.

When designing your unit, you might consider consulting the following campus resources:

When creating your unit, you may also want to consider incorporating the following lessons into your schedule:

  • An introduction to Latina/o Studies
  • An introduction to and practice of close reading techniques
  • An introduction to contextualization, including identifying relevant secondary sources that may not comment directly on the students’ chosen primary source
 
What Types of Unit Assignments Lend Themselves Well to Latina/o Studies?

There is no limit to the types of units one can create that incorporate Latina/o Studies. The Sample Unit Assignment includes a conference presentation that focuses on poetry, but can be easily modified to incorporate other mediums. Other final projects could include:

  • A podcast
  • Creation of a Wikipedia page
  • A culturally-informed review of a performance or exhibition on UNC’s campus
  • A rhetorical analysis of both local and national news articles
 
Sample Unit Assignment

In this assignment, students prepare a presentation and paper for the Latinx Studies conference. Their research begins with choosing a poem by a Latina/o/x author. Their final unit project will be a visual presentation and a conference paper that include an in-depth analysis of the poem, an original interpretation that incorporates relative information about the author, the time period, and the major themes present in the poem. The poetry foundation has many open-access poems available online for students to choose from. The sample unit project includes guidance to help students find a poem.

            Note: this sample unit project is broad in scope, but could easily be modified to focus on a narrower subfield.

LSP Writing in Humanities Sample Lesson Plan (PDF version)

LSP Writing in Humanities Sample Lesson Plan (MS Word version)

 
Bibliography

The following books may be helpful to consult when building your course:

  1. Geoffrey Fox, Hispanic Nation: Culture, Politics, and the Constructing of Identity (Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press, 1997).
  2. Jimenez Roman, Miriam and Juan Flores, eds. The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010).
  3. The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature, edited by Suzanne Bost and Frances R. Aparicio (New York, NY: Routledge, 2013)
  4. Ortiz, Paul. An African American and Latinx History of the United States. (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2018).
  5. The Latino Reader, edited by Harold Augenbraum and Margarite Fernández Olmos (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997)
  6. Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera, 1987. Reprint as a second edition (San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books, 1999).
  7. Rivera-Rideau, Petra R., Jennifer A. Jones, and Tianna Paschel, eds. Afro-Latin@s in Movement: Critical Approaches to Blackness and Transnationalism in the Americas. (New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).
  8. Latin@ Rising: An Anthology of Latin@ Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Matthew David Goodwin with an Intro by Frederick Luis Aldama (San Antonio, TX: Wings Press, 2017).
  9. Claudia Milian, LatinX (Minneapolis, MN: The University of Minnesota Press, 2020).
  10. James D. Cockcroft and Jane Canning. Latino Visions: Contemporary Chicano, Puerto Rican, and Cuban American Artists (New York: Franklin Watts, 2001).
  11. Deborah Pacini Hernandez, Oye Como Va!: Hybridity and Identity in Latino Popular Music (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2010).
  12. Anthony Christian Ocampo, The Latinos of Asia (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016).

 
 

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