Borders, Barrios, and Bridges: Latino/a Literatures in the United States (online)

ENGL 4129/7129
Adriana Mendez Rodenas
Course Description

This course is cross-listed with Spanish 4004/7004.

The course is taught in English.

At our present vantage-point in the twenty-first century, Latino/a writers and artists United have forged a vibrant, innovative literature and art that addresses their experience of migration, adaptation, and acculturation within the broader Anglo-American culture.  Written mostly in English, with a sprinkling of “Spanglish,” these works appear in all genres:  memoir, short story, novel, theater, poetry, and film.  This course examines the literature produced by the three main national/ethnic groups that compose the Hispanic population in the United States:  Chicano (Mexican-American), Puerto Rican, and Cuban-American. It is structured around three poignant spatial metaphors--borders, barrios, and bridges—that define the immigrant experience of these groups: Chicanos of the mythical Aztlán; Puerto Rican air bridges in-between San Juan and New York; the flight of post-1959 Cuban-American exiles and émigrés to Miami and New York.  We will examine the way Chicano/a writers have redefined the U.S./ Mexico border as well as the process of community formation in barrios like Little Havana in Miami or Chicano neighborhoods in Chicago. Other topics covered: bilingualism, double attachments to home and adopted country, family ties and gender roles, the process of identity-formation in the U.S., racial and ethnic identities, and the uses of memory.

Students will work on an original project related to one of three Hispanic communities. They will reflect on the immigrant experience as seen through a work or author studied in the course and weigh its contributions to the fabric of U.S. society. Heritage students will reflect on how these readings have enhanced their own sense of identity as part of a broader Hispanic community.  Final projects presented in essay and artistic/digital format.