Spring 2013
PRLS 3231 / WS 3259 / ENGL 3623
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12:30 – 1:45 PM
Monteith 115

Instructor:  Jorge A. Castillo
Skype: jorge.castillo.uconn
Office: El Instituto, Ryan Building 233
Office Hours:  Tues/Thurs 2:00-3:00 PM & by apt.

Course Description
Aggression, strength, dominance and sexual performance are characteristics stereotypically associated with masculinity. When these traits are associated with Latino masculinity, they are often equated with machismo and perceived as negative. However, this is based on the idea that masculinity is natural, belonging to men, and static. In this course we will examine how masculinities are in fact socially constructed in contemporary Latino cultural production. Through the study of film, literature, and other cultural products and practices, we will assess how gender, race, ethnicity, social class, illness, immigration, and sexuality all play a role in these constructions.

Required Texts
You must always bring texts to class the day they are being discussed. Remember you can always use our library’s ILL program to borrow the texts or if you prefer to purchase digital versions of the texts, when available, feel free to do so.

  1. Islas, Arturo. The Rain God. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991.
  2. Thomas, Piri. Down These Mean Streets. New York: Vintage, 1997.
  3. Diaz, Junot. Drown. New York: Riverhead, 1997.
  4. Cuadros, Gil. City of God. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1994.
  5. Santos-Febres, Mayra. Sirena Selena. New York: Picador, 2001.

All other readings will be available as PDF files (hyperlinked) on our course blog.

Course Objectives

  1. To recognize the relevance of gender and sexuality in understanding the Latina/o population.
  2. To critically evaluate masculinities as social constructs through the cultural production of Latinas/os.
  3. To analyze and critique how the intersectionality of gender and sexuality play an important role within the “fictions” of masculinity along with race, kinship, illness, and urban settings.
  4. To produce and disseminate knowledge regarding Latino masculinities outside of the classroom.

Course Evaluation
Participation                  20%
Blog posts                       10%
Blog comments              10%
Lead discussion (2)       20%
Term Project                   30%
Midterm &
Final Self Evaluation     10%

Attendance and active participation in class discussions are essential to this course. Only properly documented and university excused absences will be accepted. If you miss class, you are responsible for getting notes from a classmate and keeping up with assigned readings. You will be counted absent if you are significantly late to class, do not have the assigned reading, or are not on task (e.g., texting, checking Facebook or email on laptops).

Attendance alone will not ensure you get full credit for participation. You must actively engage in our class discussions. Sometimes we may discuss sensitive topics, and while you may not always agree with the views presented in the material or the ideas expressed by our fellow classmates, we must always remain civil and respectful of each other. Derogatory remarks of any nature will not be tolerated. See this course as an opportunity to challenge yourself by bringing your personal experiences and interests while thinking critically about a variety of issues.

If at any point, I feel that not enough students are doing the assigned readings, we will start having random readings quizzes to encourage everyone to come prepared to class.

Blog Contributions
Throughout the semester, we will continue discussing Latino masculinities outside of class through the use of a course blog. Your blog posts should critically reflect on the assigned readings, in-class discussions, additional research you are doing, as well as personal insights you might be comfortable sharing that relate to the issues being discussed.

  • Your blog posts need to be the rough equivalent of two, well-developed paragraphs, and they should demonstrate how you are critically engaging the assigned texts. When referencing a particular text, you should quote and cite that text appropriately using MLA style. If you are referring to a source available online, make sure to hyperlink said source so anyone interested can access it. You should also use your posts to develop questions you would like to address in class. As the blog develops, you may also want to refer back to previous posts: your own or your classmates’. Perhaps you answered your own questions and inquiries or perhaps you’ve changed your mind about something. Please do not summarize any readings or texts, unless you are discussing an additional text not assigned (and do so very briefly if needed). You will write a minimum of 10 posts due before class on Tuesdays.
  • Your blog comments should directly engage with the content of your colleagues’ posts. These can be short and informal, at least 5 sentences, but should demonstrate that you have given some thought to what they posted and are furthering the discussion along. You will write at least 20 comments during the semester due before class on Thursdays.

You should not wait to start writing posts and commenting as I will “close” sections of the blog as we move forward in our discussions throughout the semester. Remember this should be a tool to help you engage with the readings and assist you to actively participate. You can always comment on your classmates’ posts or answer any comments made to your posts at a later time.

It is your responsibility alone to ensure that your full name is identifiable with your posts/comments (not a username), and that your posts/comments are saved and published appropriately. Please keep an electronic document with all your posts/comments (including date/time stamp). You will submit this along with your midterm and final self-evaluation as evidence of your blog contributions. However, if a post/comment is not on the blog, it will not be counted towards your grade. Make sure that your posts/comments follow proper English grammar rules (spelling, capitalization, punctuation). Even though we are blogging our reflections, do not write the way you speak or text.

Lead discussions
Students will lead two class discussions based on the assigned text, film, author or topic. Presentations must include an audiovisual component, a digital handout (in the form of a post), and a bibliography. If you use a PowerPoint presentation, it should be displayed via SlideShare and attached as a downloadable file. All information should be incorporated into our course blog prior to the presentation, categorized and with appropriate tags. Please make sure to properly cite where needed. Your grade will be based on: content knowledge, organization, visuals, creativity, mechanics, and delivery.

Term Project
Students will choose a topic related to the course and prepare an entry into a course wiki. While similar to a research paper, your term project should incorporate audiovisual material, as well as sources that can be hyperlinked. You must use copyright free or sources that are shared under creative commons. You must use at least 10 academic sources (e.g., books, journals, etc.) excluding those read for class. You will present your wiki page to your colleagues the day of our scheduled final exam.

You will be graded on the following categories (detailed rubric):

  • Visual appeal (5%)
  • Multi-sensory tools (5%)
  • Hyperlinks to sources (10%)
  • Organization (10%)
  • Original, intelligent wording (20%)
  • Spelling, grammar & punctuation (15%)
  • Research content (35%)

Midterm & Final Self-Evaluations
Even though I ultimately will be assessing your overall final grade, you will also be responsible for evaluating your own work and contribution to class. You will submit a 1-2 page typed, double spaced, 1inch margins, midterm and final self-evaluation reflecting on your performance in class. Being cognizant of your own progress and contribution will play a big role in how I assign grades, specially your Participation grade. I will give as much feedback as possible in your midterm self-evaluation in hopes that you will improve anything that needs improvement. My intention is for you to focus on your learning and performance while achieving the course objectives. You will include a copy of your posts/comments.

Academic Integrity & Plagiarism
Students are expected to abide by The Student Code regarding academic integrity. It is your responsibility to read and understand The Student Code. Academic misconduct in any form will not be tolerated, including but not limited to: (a) providing and receiving assistance on academic work not previously authorized by the instructor; (b) doing academic work for someone else; (c) not creating original papers or projects created for this course; (d) dishonestly influencing anyone to better your grade; (e) plagiarism. Students found guilty of academic misconduct may suffer a range of penalties, from failing the given assignment to failing the course, or even expulsion from the University.

Students with Disabilities
Students who may need accommodations because of a disability should contact the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD). After you have provided them with proper documentation, they will contact me directly with instructions on how to accommodate you to help you succeed in this class. Requests without the proper certification from CSD or after the fact will not be accepted.