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Latin American & Caribbean Studies
Autumn 2020 Courses


  • Courses are listed in numerical order by the LACS course number.
  • Cross-lists are noted in parentheses.
  • All courses listed here count toward the LACS Major/Minor course requirements, unless otherwise indicated.
  • Courses that count for the foundational course requirement of the LACS Graduate Certificate are noted with [F] following the course title.
  • Numbering guide:
    • 10000: General education and introductory
    • 20000: Intermediate or advanced undergraduate
    • 30000, 40000, 50000+: Graduate or professional school
    • 20000/30000: Mixed undergraduate/graduate

LACS 12200 Portuguese for Spanish Speakers
LACS 13200 Introduction to Critical Race Studies: Historical, Global, and Intersectional Perspectives
LACS 16010 Mesoamerican Architecture
LACS 16100/34600 Introduction to Latin American Civilizations I [F]
LACS 21001 Human Rights: Contemporary Issues
*NEW* LACS 21720 Histoire, superstitions et croyances dans le roman francophone contemporain 
LACS 22003 Introducción a las literaturas hispánicas: del modernismo al presente
*NEW* LACS 22520 Slavery as Metaphor in Latin America
*NEW* LACS 22620 Food, Culture and Writing in the Early Modern Spanish Atlantic
*NEW* LACS 23083/32335 A Latin American Anthropology of Violence and Conflict in Latin America 
LACS 25303 Human Rights: Migrant, Refugee, Citizen
*NEW*LACS 26330/36330 Making the Maya World
LACS 26322/36322 Latin American Historiography, 19th-21st Century [F]
LACS 27401/37401 Literaturas del Caribe Hispanico en el siglo XX
LACS 28000/38000 United States Latinos: Origins and Histories 
LACS 28489 Women, Development and Politcs
LACS 29000/39000 Latin American Religions, New and Old [F]
*NEW* LACS 29007 Capitalism and Revolution in the Atlantic World
LACS 29117/39117 Theater and Performance in Latin America [F]
LACS 29700 Reading/Research: Latin American Studies
LACS 29801 BA Colloquium: Latin American Studies
LACS 29900 Prep BA Essay: Latin American Studies
LACS 38810 Empire, Slavery & Salvation: Writing Difference in Colonial Americas [F]
LACS 40100 Reading/Research: Latin American Studies
LACS 40300 MA Paper Prep: Latin American Studies
*NEW* LACS 42103 Hemispheric Studies
*NEW* LACS 42310 World Literatures in Dialogue: Latin American and Francophone Perspectives
LACS 44401 History and Fiction
*NEW* LACS 56205 The Human Environment in South America [F]


LACS 12200 (PORT 12200)

Portuguese for Spanish Speakers
Alice Mclean
MWF 10:20–11:10 AM

This course is intended for speakers of Spanish to develop competence quickly in spoken and written Portuguese. In this intermediate-level course, students learn ways to apply their Spanish language skills to mastering Portuguese by concentrating on the similarities and differences between the two languages.

Additional Notes: SPAN 10300 or consent. No auditors.


LACS 13200 (CRES 12200, GLST 22200, GNSE 15200, HIST 19010)

Introduction to Critical Race Studies: Historical, Global, and Intersectional Perspectives
Deirdre Lyons
TR 2:40-4:00 PM

This course offers an introduction to the core theoretical foundations of critical race studies, with an emphasis on historical, global, and intersectional approaches to the study of race and ethnicity. Critical race studies, which posits that race is endemic to society, is an interdisciplinary study that calls us to address unequal relationships of power and domination by analyzing the historical and global construction, emergence, and consequences of race. Drawing on historical, global, and intersectional case studies, this course aims to establish a foundation of key terms, theories, and ideas in the field as well as familiarize students with a broad survey across time and world regions. It challenges us to question how race has informed ideas about power, oppression, and liberation in history and the modern world. Readings will draw on classic and contemporary texts from critical race theory, history, feminist studies, post-colonial studies, disability studies, and anthropology, as well as films, podcasts, and class excursions. Evaluation will be based on class participation, short papers, and an independent presentation.


LACS 16010 (ARTH 16010)

Mesoamerican Architecture
Claudia Brittenham
MW 1:50-3:10PM

This course will examine the range of architectural expression in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize from 1500 BCE to 1600 CE. Using a relatively simple vocabulary of elements (house, pyramid, plaza, ballcourt, and road), each Mesoamerican city constructed a distinctive visual identity, exquisitely attuned to the surrounding environment. Moving city by city over time, we will look closely at individual buildings as well as the spatial relationships between structures. At the end of this course, students will have honed their ability to analyze architectural space and its representations, and to write cogently about what they see.


LACS 16100/34600 (ANTH 23101; HIST 16101/36101; SOSC 26100; CRES 16101)

Introduction to Latin American Civilizations I [F]
Emilio Kourí
MWF 1:50 – 2:40PM

May be taken in sequence or individually. This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This course is offered every year. Autumn Quarter examines the origins of civilizations in Latin America with a focus on the political, social, and cultural features of the major pre-Columbian civilizations of the Maya, Inca, and Aztec. The quarter concludes with an analysis of the Spanish and Portuguese conquest, and the construction of colonial societies in Latin America.

Note: Students enrolled in this course will be able to complete all requirements of this course remotely. In-person elements of this course will be optional.


LACS 21001 (HIST 29304, HMRT 21001, LLSO 21001)

Human Rights Contemporary Issues
Susan Gzesh
MWF 1:50-3:10PM

This course examines basic human rights norms and concepts and selected contemporary human rights problems from across the globe, including human rights implications of the COVID pandemic. Beginning with an overview of the present crises and significant actors on the world stage, we will then examine the political setting for the United Nations’ approval of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948. The post-World War 2 period was a period of optimism and fertile ground for the establishment of a universal rights regime, given the defeat of fascism in Europe. International jurists wanted to establish a framework of rights that went beyond the nation-state, taking into consideration the partitions of India-Pakistan and Israel-Palestine - and the rising expectations of African-Americans in the U.S. and colonized peoples across Africa and Asia. But from the beginning, there were basic contradictions in a system of rights promulgated by representatives of nation-states that ruled colonial regimes, maintained de facto and de jure systems of racial discrimination, and imprisoned political dissidents and journalists.

Cross-cutting themes of the course include the universalism of human rights, problems of impunity and accountability, notions of “exceptionalism,” and the emerging issue of the “shamelessness” of authoritarian regimes. Students will research a human rights topic of their choosing, to be presented as either a final research paper or a group presentation.


*NEW* LACS 21720 (FREN  21720)

Histoire, superstitions et croyances dans le roman francophone contemporain
Michele Kenfack
TR 1:00–2:20PM

Superstitions and traditional beliefs are an integral part of African and Caribbean cultural identities. Based on myths, legends and proverbs, they were usually passed down orally. This course explores and critically analyzes their literary representations: how do contemporary authors rethink, reframe and rewrite myths and legends that primarily stems from an oral tradition? How are these stories used as a framing device to interrogate contemporary historical events? The course emphasizes cultural and socio-political connections through some close readings and discussions. Readings include texts by Mariama Bâ, René Depestre, Véronique Lordinot, Gisèle Pineau and Véronique Tadjo.

PQ: FREN 20500 or 20503. This is an introductory-level course.


LACS 22003 (SPAN 22003)

Introducción a las literaturas hispánicas: del modernismo al presente
Agnes Lugo-Ortiz
TR 2:40 – 4:00PM

Students in this course study an array of texts written in Spanish America from the late nineteenth century to the present, including the literature of the Hispanic diasporas. Authors may include José Martí, Rubén Darío, Mariano Azuela, Pablo Neruda, César Vallejo, Teresa de la Parra, Jorge Luis Borges, Octavio Paz, Rosario Castellanos, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Pedro Pietri.

PQ: Taught in Spanish. SPAN 20300 or consent of instructor.


*NEW* LACS 22520 (SPAN 22520)

Slavery as Metaphor in Latin America
Isabela Fraga
MW 4:10–5:30PM

This course will examine the long-lived trope of slavery as a metaphor-for love, sex, god, and imperial domination-in the Iberian Atlantic from the seventeenth to the late-nineteenth centuries. Focusing on literary, spiritual, and political texts, we will explore the ways in which slavery as a metaphor has informed understandings and conceptions of actual slavery in Ibero-America. What happens when a captive writes a poem about being enslaved to their lover? What does it mean for a slave master to define their relationship to Europe in terms of bondage? How must we read spiritual writings and religious sermons depicting God as a "true master" in slave-holding territories? In addition to these questions, we will analyze the presence of enslaved people in literary texts written by white Creole authors in order to explore how they shape modern conceptions of freedom and whiteness. Readings will include literary texts by Cuban and Brazilian authors, religious sermons, literature written by slaves and former slaves, as well as independentist letters and pamphlets. In addressing the ubiquity of slavery both as a trope and as a concrete system of labor exploitation and capital accumulation, students will be able to better recognize the material implications of cultural artifacts, and to build connections between the Spanish, Portuguese, and Brazilian empires.


*NEW* LACS 22620 (SPAN 22620)

Food, Culture and Writing in the Early Modern Spanish Atlantic
Daniela Gutierrez Flores
MW 6:30–7:50PM

This class will engage critically with Iberian and Latin American food studies by focusing on iconic everyday food commodities whose history is deeply rooted in colonization, slavery, imperial expansion and evangelization. Students will examine the presence of foods-such as maize, chocolate, sugar, potato and chili- in early modern literature, travel narratives, natural histories and historical documents in order to reflect upon issues like cultural interaction, identity formation and difference in the context of the Spanish Empire. We will read texts such as those by Fernández de Oviedo, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega and Guamán Poma, as well as unpublished recipes and cookbooks. We will also engage with hands-on research and reconstruction of early modern recipes to gain insight into historical techniques and materials. Early modern sources will be put in dialogue with contemporary issues like gastronomic prestige, food justice and sustainability. In doing so, students will be provided with critical tools to analyze the political, economic, gender and racial implications of contemporary discourses of food.


*NEW*  LACS 23083/LACS 32335 (ANTH 23083, ANTH 32335, GLST 23083, HMRT 23083)

A Latin American Anthropology of Violence and Conflict in Latin America
Erin McFee
Tr 2:40–4:00PM

This course explores the dynamics of conflict and organized violence in Latin America through a combination of Latin American fiction and documentary films and ethnographic and other relevant research. The following are some of the interrelated topics that we will cover, which draw primarily from scholars not only of Latin America, but also in Latin America: non-state armed groups, transnational criminal networks, international cooperation and humanitarian intervention, human rights abuses and activism, gendered experiences of violence and its aftermath, and the state. We will begin our work in contemporary conversations about these topics throughout the region and weave in readings from the globally dispersed foundational thinkers who have informed these conversations. Students will develop a case study of their choosing over the quarter and receive in-class instruction on forming and managing effective writing groups to facilitate their projects. Significant flexibility is also possible for those who want to incorporate their coursework into the development of a larger research project.

PQ: Course materials and discussions will be in both Spanish and English; Spanish fluency required.


LACS 25303 (HMRT 24701)

Human Rights: Migrant, Refugee, Citizen
Susan Gzesh
R 7:40-10:40PM

The fundamental principle underlying human rights is that they are inherent in the identity of all human beings, regardless of place and without regard to citizenship, nationality, or immigration status. Human rights are universal and must be respected everywhere and always. Human rights treaties and doctrines mandate that a person does not lose their human rights simply by crossing a border. While citizens enjoy certain political rights withheld from foreigners within any given nation-state, what ARE the rights of non-citizens in the contemporary world? Students will research a human rights topic of their choosing, to be presented as either a final research paper or a group presentation.


*NEW* LACS 26330/36330 (ANTH 26330/36330)

Making the Maya World
Sarah Newman
T 2:40–5:30PM

What do we know about the ancient Maya? Pyramids, palaces, and temples are found from Mexico to Honduras, texts in hieroglyphic script record the histories of kings and queens who ruled those cities, and painted murals, carved stone stelae, and ceramic vessels provide a glimpse of complex geopolitical dynamics and social hierarchies. Decades of archaeological research have expanded that view beyond the rulers and elites to explore the daily lives of the Maya people, networks of trade and market exchange, and agricultural and ritual practices. Present-day Maya communities attest to the dynamism and vitality of languages and traditions, often entangled in the politics of archaeological heritage and tourism. This course is a wide-ranging exploration of ancient Maya civilization and of the various ways archaeologists, anthropologists, linguists, historians, and indigenous communities have examined and manipulated the Maya past. From tropes of long-hidden mysteries rescued from the jungle to New Age appropriations of pre-Columbian rituals, from the thrill of decipherment to painstaking and technical artifact studies, we will examine how models drawn from astrology, ethnography, classical archaeology and philology, political science, and popular culture have shaped current understandings of the ancient Maya world, and also how the Maya world has, at times, resisted easy appropriation and defied expectations.


LACS 26322/36322 (HIST 26320/36320 )

Latin American Historiography, 19th-21st Century [F]
Mauricio Tenorio
M 8:00–10:50AM

Review of recent trends in the history of the regions. Weekly reviews.


LACS 27401/37401 (SPAN 27401/37401,CRES 27401/37401, LACS 37401)

Literaturas del Caribe Hispanico en el siglo XX
Agnes Lugo-Ortiz
TR 4:20-5:40

This course will explore some key examples of the literatures of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean (Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Santo Domingo) during the twentieth century, including those of its migrant and exile communities. Questions concerning the literary elaboration of the region’s histories of slavery and colonialism, militarization, and territorial displacements will be at the center of our discussions. Among the authors we may read are Fernando Ortiz, Antonio Pedreira, Pedro Henríquez Ureña, Luis Palés Matos, Nicolás Guillén, René Marqués, Pedro Pietri, Alejo Carpentier, Ana Lydia Vega, Eduardo Lalo, and Pedro Juan Gutiérrez.


LACS 28000/38000 (HIST 28000/38000, GNSE 28202/38202, AMER 28001/38001, CRES 28000/38000)

United States Latinos: Origins and Histories
Ramon Gutierrez
T 4:20-7:10PM

An examination of the diverse social, economic, political, and cultural histories of those who are now commonly identified as Latinos in the United States. Particular emphasis will be placed on the formative historical experiences of Mexican Americans and mainland Puerto Ricans, although some consideration will also be given to the histories of other Latino groups, i.e., Cubans, Central Americans, and Dominicans. Topics include cultural and geographic origins and ties; imperialism and colonization; the economics of migration and employment; legal status; work, women, and the family; racism and other forms of discrimination; the politics of national identity; language and popular culture; and the place of Latinos in US society.


LACS 28498 (GNSE 28498, PBPL 28498)

Women, Development, and Politics
Maria Bautista-Maliha Chishti
TR 11:20-2:20PM

This course will explore the dominant and emerging trends and debates in the field of women and international development. The major theoretical perspectives responding to global gender inequities will be explored alongside a wide range of themes impacting majority-world women, such as free market globalization, health and sexuality, race and representation, participatory development, human rights, the environment and participation in politics. Course lectures will integrate policy and practitioner accounts and perspectives to reflect the strong influence development practice has in shaping and informing the field. Course materials will also include anti-racist, postcolonial and post-development interruptions to dominant development discourse, specifically to challenge the underlying biases and assumptions of interventions that are predicated on transforming "them" into "us". The material will also explore the challenges of women participating in politics and what are the consequences when they do or do not.


LACS 29000/39000 (HIST 29000/39000, HCHR 39200, CRES 29000/39000,  RLST 21401, MAPS 39200) 

Latin American Religions, New and Old [F]
Dain Borges
TR 9:40-11AM

This course will consider select pre-twentieth-century issues, such as the transformations of Christianity in colonial society and the Catholic Church as a state institution. It will emphasize twentieth-century developments: religious rebellions; conversion to evangelical Protestant churches; Afro-diasporan religions; reformist and revolutionary Catholicism; new and New Age religions.


*NEW* LACS 29007 (HIST 29007, AMER 29007, CRES 29007)

Capitalism and Revolution in the Atlantic World
Oliver Cussen
TR 1:00-2:20PM

What was the relationship between the "Age of Revolutions" and the rise of capitalism? This course places the social and political upheavals in France, Haiti, and the Americas between 1776 and 1821 in the context of broader developments in the long eighteenth century, including innovations in finance (debt, credit, banks, corporations), the expansion of overseas commerce and colonial slavery, and the emergence of Enlightenment political economy. Above all, we will consider the extent to which the institutional and intellectual structures of the world economy determined both the causes and the outcomes of the revolutions. Readings will cover long-standing debates in the scholarship concerning social class and revolution; the imperial origins of national consciousness; humanitarian reform and the abolition of slavery; colonialism and industry; and the legacy of eighteenth-century revolutions in the twenty-first century.


LACS 29117/39117 (SPAN 29117/39117, TAPS 28479/38479, GNSE 29117/39117, CRES 29117/39117)

Theater and Performance in Latin America [F]
Danielle Roper
TR 11:20–12:40PM

What is performance? How has it been used in Latin America and the Caribbean? This course is an introduction to theatre and performance in Latin America and the Caribbean that will examine the intersection of performance and social life. While we will place particular emphasis on performance art, we will examine some theatrical works. We ask: how have embodied practice, theatre and visual art been used to negotiate ideologies of race, gender and sexuality? What is the role of performance in relation to systems of power? How has it negotiated dictatorship, military rule, and social memory? Ultimately, the aim of this course is to give students an overview of Latin American performance including blackface performance, indigenous performance, as well as performance and activism.


LACS 29700

Reading/Research: Latin American Studies
Students and instructors can arrange a Reading and Research course in Latin American Studies when the material being studied goes beyond the scope of a particular course, when students are working on material not covered in an existing course or when students would like to receive academic credit for independent research.

PQ: Consent of faculty adviser required.


LACS 29801

BA Colloquium: Latin American Studies
Diana Schwartz Francisco
F 9:30-12:20PM

This colloquium, which is led by the preceptor and BA adviser, assists students in formulating approaches to the BA essay and developing their research and writing skills, while providing a forum for group discussion and critiques. Graduating students present their BA essays in a public session of the colloquium during the Spring Quarter.

PQ: Must be a 4th year major in Latin American Studies to enroll.

Note: Students enrolled in this course will be able to complete all requirements of this course remotely. In-person elements of this course will be optional.


LACS 29900

Prep BA Essay: Latin American Studies
Independent BA thesis course.
PQ: Consent of undergraduate thesis/project adviser required.


LACS 38810 (SPAN 38810, CMLT 38810)

Empire, Slavery & Salvation: Writing Difference in Colonial Americas [F]
Larissa Brewer-Garcia
F 1:50–5:00PM

This course explores portrayals of human difference in literature, travel writing, painting, and autobiography from Spain, England, and the Americas. Students will become versed in debates surrounding the emergence of human distinctions based on religion, race, and ethnicity in the early modern era. Understanding these debates and the history surrounding them is crucial to participating in informed discussion, research, and activism regarding issues of race, empire, and colonialism across time and space.


LACS 40100

Reading/Research: Latin American Studies
Students and instructors can arrange a Reading and Research course in Latin American Studies when the material being studied goes beyond the scope of a particular course, when students are working on material not covered in an existing course or when students would like to receive academic credit for independent research.

PQ: Consent of faculty adviser required.


LACS 40300

MA Paper Prep: Latin American Studies
Independent MA thesis course

PQ: Consent of faculty adviser required.


*NEW* LACS 42103 (ENGL 42103, CMLT 42103,  SPAN 42103)

Hemispheric Studies
Rachel Galvin
W 12:40–3:50PM

This course examines Hemispheric Studies approaches to the literatures and cultures of the Americas, which combines a commitment to comparatism with attention to the specificities of local contexts ranging from the Southern Cone to the Caribbean to North America. Theories drawn from American Studies, Canadian Studies, Caribbean Studies, Latin American Studies, Poetry and Poetics, Postcolonial Studies, and U.S. Latinx Studies will be explored in relation to literature written primarily but not exclusively in the 20th and 21st centuries by writers residing throughout the Americas. We’ll examine recent, innovative studies being published by contemporary scholars working with Hemispheric methods across several fields. We’ll also consider the politics of academic field formation, debating the theories and uses of a method that takes the American hemisphere as its primary frame yet does not take the U.S. as the default point of departure; and the conceptual and political limitations of such an approach. No knowledge of Spanish, French, or Portuguese is required.


*NEW* LACS 42310 (FREN 42310, CMLT 42310,  PORT 42310, SPAN 42310)

World Literatures in Dialogue: Latin American and Francophone Perspectives
Khalid Lyamlahy & Victoria Saramago
MW 1:50–3:10PM

This course aims to explore the major debates that have surrounded the concept of “world literature” in both Latin American and Francophone contexts. Building upon a wide range of critical works (Said, Casanova, Damrosch, Apter, Moretti), it highlights the significance of the concept of world literature in two different yet equally instructive and often intersecting contexts.
In the French-speaking world, this course will draw on the Manifesto “Toward a 'World Literature' in French” (2007) signed by eminent writers from areas as diverse as Sub-Saharan Africa (Mabanckou, Waberi), North Africa (Ben Jelloun, Sansal), Indian Ocean islands (Ananda Devi, Raharimanana), and the Caribbean (Condé, Laferrière). Some of the key questions that will be studied include the critique of “Francophonie,” the question of multilingualism and its manifestations, and the relationship between world literature and cosmopolitanism.
In a similar vein, the course will explore the expanding corpus of Latin American scholarship on the topic (Kristal, Siskind, Hoyos) in relation to the contributions of Latin American authors (Bolaño, García Márquez, Indiana, Lisboa, Oloixarac). This portion aims to revisit some of the topics and issues present in contemporary scholarship on world literature as they relate to earlier Latin American theory and criticism, and to discuss major contemporary works that directly intervene on world literature debates today.


LACS 44401 (HIST 46401, FREN 46402, PORT 46402, SPAN 46402)

History and Fiction
Dain Borges
W 8:00–10:50AM

We will explore the relations among historical analysis, historical narrative, and fiction, with an emphasis on the Americas.


*NEW* LACS 56205 (ANTH 56205)

The Human Environment in South America [F]
Alan Kolata, Mareike Winchell
T 1:00-3:50PM

This course examines the reciprocal production of non/humanity and the environment, focusing primarily on the Andean and Amazonian regions of South America. In recent years, a flurry of new scholarship in and about this part of the world interrogates the ways that cosmo-politics (more-than-humans in political life), new ontologies (emergent ways of being or forms of existence), and broader collaborative zones of social and environmental worlding interrupt familiar paradigms of human exceptionalism. This course takes up these provocations and links them to an older cannon of ethnographic and ethnological research concerning pre-colonial religiosities, land settlement, property regimes, and exchange networks in South America. By drawing together classic texts on the co-production of people and place and recent ethnographies of human/environmental co-articulation, the course aims to develop a more historically-attuned heuristic with which to approach contemporary phenomena including eco-politics, oil and natural gas conflicts, expanding soy and meat production frontiers, water rights and “green” agri-business, and huaca deities and deceased kin as tenacious diviners of the sacred.