Latino Studies

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Latino Studies

  • Host University

    Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

  • Location

    Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, Chile

  • Area of Study

    Latin American Studies

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview


    In 2010, Latinos comprised 16.3% of the U.S. population, and today, they are the largest racial/ethnic minority group in the United States. At 63%, the Mexican origin population is the largest subgroup, followed by Puerto Ricans (9%), Cubans (3.5%), Salvadorans (3.3%), and Dominicans (2.8%). This course examines the heterogeneity of the Chicano/Latino experience in the United States. A major focus of this course is understanding the contemporary public policy issues and obstacles Chicano(a)/Latino(a) communities face within the U.S. and how these obstacles might be overcome. Topics to be discussed include: immigration policy and immigrant incorporation, assimilation, intersectionality (race, gender and class), identity construction, education, work, and interracial and intra-ethnic relations, to name a few. Throughout the course, we will consider the various ways that relations of class, race/ethnicity, gender, age, and citizenship intersect and affect Latinos? access to opportunity and equality. Students are encouraged to create new knowledge through class discussions and participation, critical thinking and analysis. Class lectures, discussions, and assignments are geared towards helping students develop a critical understanding of the primary issues related to the experiences of Chicanos/Latinos living in the U.S. Readings for the course are taken from a variety of disciplines, but most will be examined through a sociological lens. This course is designed to provide undergraduate students with an opportunity to examine the historical and contemporary experiences of Americans of Latin American origin. This diverse population includes people who trace their heritage to Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and many other Latin American and Caribbean nations. The curriculum seeks to provide an awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of the language (Spanglish), history, culture, literature, sociology, anthropology, politics, social ecology, health, medicine, and creative (art, dance, drama, film, music) accomplishments in Chicano/Puertorican and other Latino communities. We begin this course by examining the distinct migration histories of various Latino subgroups, why they migrate and how they are received. We will then focus on how Latinos and their descendants are incorporating into the United States? core social structures. We conclude with an examination of new and emergent color lines as Latinos have transformed the United States from a largely black-white society to one now consisting of multiple racial/ethnic groups.


    This is an Intensive Introductory Course we will be covering most of the material during 4 weeks with in daily classes. This course will put Latino and Latina literature at the center of our developed space?both in the classroom and in our discussion. We will explore important aspects of the works through a mostly historical approach but will draw from other components including folklore, memory, social issues, and identity development by:


    - Explain the role of migration in the formation of Latin America and the Caribbean?s diverse cultures
    - Compare and contrast the historical development of Latin America and the Caribbean
    - Explain the economic forces impacting the Latin American and the Caribbean economies
    - Critically analyze the Latino/a experience in terms of significant issues, theories, current problems, and solutions
    - Critically analyze different literary readings in terms of significant representation of issues that affect Latino Community: identity, race, gender etc.

    We will look at some critical pieces, some historical writing, and a few other readings that are non-fiction and instructional. This course has been designed to help you learn more about Latina/o culture and its representation in and through literature. To engage with this material you must be willing to allow for new ways of thinking about issues in the world and to recognize power, privilege and cultural perspectives. We will learn about Latina/o literature and culture and how they are important to determine identity and conflict in the world, particularly in a contemporary world that simultaneously is embracing and rejecting the differences in cultures.

    We will be comparing these experiences of being immigrant to several other immigrant families living in Chile.


    This course is designed to acquaint students with representative literary works of Hispanic Americans writing in English. Through readings in fiction, poetry and drama, students in this class will explore the contemporary experience of Hispanic Americans and how it is represented in American literature. The course will focus on how these works represent not only an intersection between cultures, but also a culture in itself. We will take into account the many types or groups of Hispanic Americans in the United States and examine how issues of sex, race, class, and education have an impact on Latino (a) self-definition and community identity [we will come to some agreement in class as to which term to use for our purposes: Hispanic or Latino/a:

    - developing students' familiarity with the wide variety of works by Hispanic Americans writing in English,
    - improving critical awareness of and sensitivity to cultural nuance, and introducing students to an aspect of American literature and culture which is too often marginalized and ignored
    - Incorporate ideas from sources and use them appropriately
    - Develop a well-written thesis
    - Analyze various viewpoints
    - Support evidence applying historically-based and culturally-informed arguments as indicated by the instructor in each discipline covered by the program: history; politics; anthropology; literature/the arts


    1. LECTURE PARTICIPATION and ATTENDANCE (10%) This class is based on active student participation in class discussions. I expect the student attend every class meeting prepared to discuss the assigned reading. Attendance and in-class participation account for 10% of your grade. This includes active and informed in-class participation that demonstrates a thoughtful reading of the course material. It is your responsibility to read all course materials prior to class. Attendance will be taken within the first 30 minutes of class. It is your responsibility to make sure you sign the roll sheet. Do not sign the roll sheet for your classmates. Do not overlook the importance of participation and attendance in calculating your grade. This grade is based on the number of class meetings you attend and will increase or decrease depending on your active participation or behavior in class.
    Things that will bring down your grade are disruptive behavior; disrespect towards your professor, or peers; comments that reveal a lack of preparation, sleeping in class; excessive tardiness, excessive absences, and web surfing. Excessive absences and constant disruptive behavior will result in a failing class participation grade. Do not assume that you will receive full participation and credit merely for showing up to class. You must also thoughtfully participate in lecture discussions.

    2. MIDTERM AND FINAL EXAMS (2 at 50% total) There will be two exams throughout the course of the semester, a midterm and a final exam taken in class. These exams will consist of multiple choice, short answer and essay questions. Exams will draw from readings, class lectures, guest lectures, discussion section, lectures that I may ask you to attend, and any film or video clips shown in class. If you will miss a class, please make sure to obtain notes from a classmate. The final exam will be cumulative.

    3. FIELD TRIP AND WORKING WITH IMMIGRANT CHILDREN (20%) The attendances to these events in Santiago are very important, you not only will be having firsthand experience but you will be important part of the cultural development of immigrant children. Your active participation and discussion in preparation and organization will accounts for 10% of your grade.

    4. CRITICAL ANALYSIS PAPER (20%) You have three available options to satisfy this component of the class. Option A: Relationship between Immigration, Social Networks, Intersectionality Doméstica is one of the foundational texts in the field of Latino sociology. Read Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo?s, Domestica: Immigrant Workers Cleaning and Caring in the Shadows of Affluence (listed as an optional text) in its entirety. How does she describe the importance of social networks and intersectionality in the lives of the Mexican and Central American domestic workers she interviewed and observed? How do her findings compare with Cecilia Menjivar?s discussion of social networks and immigration in Fragmented Ties? Discuss what these authors teach us about the relationship between immigration, social networks, context of reception and intersectionality in a 5-7 page paper. Option B: Literary Text Analysis This version of the critical analysis paper consists of an analysis of a literary text. This means that you must select a literary text (a possible list is included in this syllabus) to read and complete 1 essay (max 5-7 pages) on this text. Your essay should analyze this book through a Chicano/Latino studies lens by using theories, empirical evidence and concepts discussed in class. You must correctly apply a minimum of 5 theories/concepts and 4 scholarly sources used in class. Papers will be graded based on their originality and how well concepts and theories are integrated and analyzed. Option C: Comparative Analysis. Although we covered the migration trajectories and incorporation patterns of many Latino subgroups from different regions, we were unable to cover all of them in detail. This critical analysis paper requires that you compare and contrast the migration trajectory, immigration policies, and incorporation patterns of two Latino subgroups, one of which was not covered extensively in class (ex. Puerto Ricans, Peruvians, Hondurans, Colombians etc.). You must compare their migration trajectory to another Latino group discussed in class and assess how they are incorporating into 3 aspects of the core U.S. social structures (ex. education, gender dynamics, the workplace, racial hierarchy etc.) You must use at least 3 external academic sources (preferably peer reviewed journal articles) concerning the Latino group of your choice to complete 1 comparative essay (max 5-7 pages). You must also correctly apply a minimum of 6 theories/concepts and 2 scholarly sources used in class.

    5. GRADING
    All of the materials outlined in this syllabus are required. Students are expected to use all of the information available to make points, arguments and critical assessments in your assignments and course discussions.
    - Grading will be as follows: Lecture Attendance & Participation 10%
    - Field trip participation 20%
    - Critical Analysis Paper 20%
    - In class midterm 25%
    - In class final exam 25%

Course Disclaimer

Please note that there are no beginning level Spanish courses offered in this program.

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.


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