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					                                     Women’s Studies 512
                                 LATINAS IN LAS AMÉRICAS

                                         Dr. Irene Lara
                                          Spring 2009
                              Tuesdays, 11 am-12:15 pm in AH4176

   Of. Hrs: W. 10-12:30 pm; Th. 12:30-2:30pm                Email:
   & by appointment                                         Telephone: 619-594-7151
   Office: AL 353

Course Description

This course examines the lives of Latinas in the Américas, primarily women of all races and
ethnicities with Latin American nationality who live in Northern or Southern America. After
exploring “Latina” identity and “feminisms” in the first few weeks of the course, we ground
ourselves in the historical context of European colonialism (with a focus on Mexico and Puerto
Rico). We then turn to the contemporary lives of a variety of women throughout las Américas,
with a special emphasis on women of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands. An interweaving theme
throughout the course is health and healing: What does wellbeing mean personally and socially
for Latinas and from Latina perspectives? We will also focus our studies on the following topics:
history, memory, personal narratives and testimonio; female cultural figures and representations;
colonialism and decolonialism; religion and spirituality; and sexuality. Moreover, throughout
the course, we will also explore the differences and similarities of Latinas across class, nation,
sexuality, race, and ethnicity with a particular focus on indigenous women and U.S. Latinas.

Our class is conducted in a lecture-seminar style that focuses on discussion and participation. Your
active involvement in class is required. You can demonstrate your involvement by doing all of your
readings before class, being prepared by coming to class with reflections and questions in your
journal/notebook, following class guidelines, engaging in class discussion, and by visiting office

Learning Goals

*To better understand the diversity of “Latina” identities and lives across the Americas,
including the U.S.
*To better understand the impact of colonialism, modernity, sexism, homophobia, and
eurocentrism on knowledge about Latinas, on the construction of Latina representations, and on
Latina lives in general
*To better understand indigenous histories and worldviews
*To identify mechanisms of oppression and resistance as they pertain to Latinas
*To apply Latina theories and scholarship to creating a self-reflective research paper or project

Course Texts & Materials Needed (also in Course Reserves)
1. Notebook/Journal
2. Ruiz, Vicki L. and Virginia Sanchez Korro, eds. Latina Legacies: Identity, Biography, and
Community. Oxford University Press, 2005.
3. Limón, Graciela. Song of the Hummingbird. Houston, TX: Arte Público Press, 1996.
4. Castillo, Ana. So Far From God. New York: W.W. Norton, 1993.
5. Levins Morales, Aurora. Remedios: Stories of Earth and Iron From the History of
Puertorriqueñas. Boston, MA: South End Press, 1998.
6. Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands/La Frontera: the New Mestixza. San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute
Press, 1987. (Third edition, published 2008.)
7. Chabram-Dernersesian, Angie and Adela de la Torre, eds. Speaking from the Body: Latinas on
Health and Culture. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2008.
8. Course Reader, which will be available during Week 3 at KB BOOKS, 286-BOOK

Optional Course Texts:
1. Castillo, Ana, ed. Goddess of the Americas/Diosa de las Américas: Writings on The Virgin of
Guadalupe. New York: Riverhead Press, 1996.
2. Belli, Gioconda. The Country Under My Skin: A Memoir of Love and War. New York: Anchor
Books, 2003.

*Also Required: A Spanish/English Dictionary

Course Requirements

Identities Assignment (50 points)
Remedios Assignment (50 points)
Borderlands Assignment (50 points)
Passionate Reflection (50 points)
Community Table Assignment (50 points)
Researcher/Teacher/Activist as Curandera Proposal (50 points)
Researcher/Teacher/Activist as Curandera Final Paper/Project (150 points)
Researcher/Teacher/Activist as Curandera Final Oral Presentation/Outline (50 points)
Latina Legacies Biography (50 points)
Discussion Guide (50 points)
Community Engagement Response (50 points x 2)
Attendance/Participation (50 points)
Inspired/TBA Assignment (50 points)

              800 points total (estimated)

Readings and assignments are due on dates noted. Every reading is in the Course Reader unless
otherwise noted (e.g. BB = Blackboard under “Course Documents”).

WK 1 1/22             La Bienvenida: Course Syllabus and Pedagogy Introduction

Ayala, Jennifer, Patricia Herrera, Laura Jiménez, and Irene Lara. “Fiera, Guambra, y Karichina!
Transgressing the Borders of Community and Academy.” Chicana/Latina Education in
Everyday Life: Feminista Perspectives on Pedagogy and Epistemology. Eds. Dolores Delgado
Bernal, C. Alejandra Elenes, Francisca E. Godinez, and Sofia Villenas. Albany, NY: State
University of New York Press, 2006. 363-389. BB

WK 2 1/27             Pedagogy Introduction, continued

OPTIONAL: Anzaldúa, Gloria. “now let us shift… the path of conocimiento… inner work,
public acts.” this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation. New York:
Routledge, 2002. 540-78. BB

WK 2 1/29             “Latina” Identities

Identities Assignment Due Today: Reflect on the readings and write about your relation to
Latina women in the Americas. Do you identify as one? Why or why not? If pertinent, how did
you come to identify, or disidentify, as one? Who are the Latinas you have interacted with in
your life? (i.e. relatives, friends, workers, during vacations…?) What has been the nature of these
interactions? What have you been taught about Latina women in your classes? Through popular
media? What have you learned on your own or through your family? How have this week‟s
readings confirmed and/or changed your knowledge about “Latinas”? Cite and engage at least
four readings from the class so far. Typed; two-three pages long.

Levins Morales, Aurora. “Child of the Americas,” Getting Home Alive. Ithaca, NY: Firebrand
Books. 50. BB

Ramirez, Reyna. “Julia Sanchez‟s Story: An Indigenous Woman between Nations.” Frontiers
23:2 (2002). 65-83. BB

Moraga, Cherríe. “La Güera.” This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of
Color. 3rd ed. Berkeley, CA: Third Woman Press, 2002. 24-33. BB

Anzaldúa, Gloria E. “La Prieta.” This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of
Color. 3rd ed. Berkeley, CA: Third Woman Press, 2002. 220-233. BB

Alsultany, Evelyn. “Los Intersticios: Racasting Moving Selves.” this bridge we call home:
radical visions for transformation. Eds. Gloria Anzaldúa and AnaLouise Keating. New York:
Routledge, 2002. 106-110. BB

Souza, Caridad. “Esta Risa no Es De Loca.” Telling to Live: Latina Feminist Testimonios. The
Latina Feminist Group. Durham, NH: Duke University Press, 2001. 114-22. BB

WK 3 2/3 & 2/5        Latina Identities, continued

WK 4           Mapping “Las Américas” and Latina “Feminisms”

Questions for reflection as you read: What does power have to do with naming, and creating
knowledge about, “the Americas” and “Latinas”? How are Latinas claiming, defining, and
redefining “feminism”? What are Latina “feminist” issues? How do Latina feminisms interweave
with women‟s social movements and other justice struggles throughout las Américas?

2/10 Acosta-Belén, Edna and Carlos E. Santiago. “Merging Borders: The Remapping of
America.” The Latino Studies Reader: Culture, Economy, and Society. Eds. Antonia Darder and
Rodolfo D. Torres. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1998. 29-42.

Stephen, Lynn, Patricia Zavella, Matthew C. Gutman, and Feelix V. Matos Rodríguez.
“Introduction: Understanding the Américas: Insights from Latina/o and Latin American Studies,”
Perspectives on Las Américas: A Reader in Culture, History, and Representation. Malden, AM:
Blackwell Publishing, 2003. 1-30. (Focus on 1-15.)

2/12 Villanueva, Margaret. “Ambivalent Sisterhood: Latina Feminism and Women‟s Studies.”
Discourse: Journal of Communication and Culture 21:3 (Fall 1999): 49-76.

Hernández-Avila, Inés. “In Praise of Subordination, Or, What Makes a Good Woman Go Bad?”
Transforming a Rape Culture. Revised Edition. Eds. Emilie Buchwald, Pamela R. Fletcher, and
Martha Roth. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 2005. 323-341.

[Community Engagement Opportunity: 2/14 at 4:00 pm in Montezuma Hall. Scholars and
“Underground Undergrads” speak about the plight of undocumented college students]

WK 5     (Des)Encuentros, (Des)Conocimientos, and Colonialism

2/17 Marcos, Sylvia. “Indigenous Eroticism and Colonial Morality: The Confession Manuals
of New Spain” and “Corporeality, Religious Metaphor, and Narrative.” Taken From the Lips:
Gender and Eros in Mesoamerican Religions. Boston, MA: Brill, 2006. 77-92; 63-76.

Wood, Stephanie. “Sexual Violation in the Conquest of the Americas,” Sex and Sexuality in
Early America. Ed. Merril D. Smith. New York: New York University, 1998. 9-33.

2/19 Limón, Graciela. Selections from Song of the Hummingbird. Author‟s note, 9-124, and
213-217. (The rest is optional.)

WK 6 2/24 & 2/26      Spotlight on Ana Castillo’s Writings

So Far From God
I Ask the Impossible, selection of poems (BB)

[Community Engagement Opportunities: 1. Women‟s Studies Feminist Colloquia Presentation
by Ana Castillo on Thursday, 2/26 at 2 pm. Place TBA 2. Association of Chicana Activists High
School/Higher Education Conference on Saturday, 2/28. SDSU, place TBA]

WK 7 3/3 & 3/5        Historias y Memorias: Re-membering Puertorriqueñas

Assignment: Remedios assignment due (BB)

Mesa-Baines, Amalia. “Altarmakers: The Historic Mediators.” 5-7. (Publishing information n/a.)

Levins Morales, Aurora. “The Historian as Curandera.” Medicine Stories: History, Culture and
the Politics of Integrity. Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1998. 23-38.

Levins Morales, Aurora. Remedios: Stories of Earth and Iron from the History of

WK 8       3/10 & 3/12       Theorizing the Borderlands/Living La Frontera

Assignment: Borderlands assignment due (BB)

Selections from Gloria Anzaldúa‟s Borderlands/La Frontera: the New Mestiza

WK 9       Decolonizing the Sacred: Tonantzin-La Virgen de Guadalupe

3/17   Assignment: Mid-Course Evaluation Due (20 points extra credit)

Lara, Irene. “Tonanlupanisma: Re-membering Tonantzin-Guadalupe in Chicana Visual Art.”
Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, v. 33, n. 2 (fall 2008): 61-90. (BB)

3/19 Selections from Goddess of the Americas/Diosa de las Américas: Writings on The Virgin
of Guadalupe. Ed. Ana Castillo. New York: Riverhead Press, 1996. Ana Castillo‟s
“Introduction;” Jeanette Rodriguez‟s “Guadalupe: The Feminine Face of God;” Sandra Cisneros‟
“Guadalupe the Sex Goddess;” Cherrie Moraga‟s “El Mito Azteca;” and Liliana Valenzuela‟s
“Virgencita, Give Us a Chance.” (BB)

Lara, Irene. “„Goddess‟ of the Américas: Beyond the Virtuous Virgen/Pagan Puta Dichotomy.”
Feminist Studies, v. 34, n. 1/2 (spring/summer 2008): 99-127. (BB)

WK 10         Passions Week

3/24 Social Change through Community Law
Guest Speaker: Luz Herrera, J.D., “Reflections of a Latina Community Lawyer”

Herrera, Luz. “Reflections of a Community Lawyer,” The Modern American, v. 3, n.
2 (Summer-Fall 2007): 39-45. Download:

3/26 Assignment: Passionate Reflection Due. See a topic in the syllabus that you‟d like to
learn more about? Notice a gap in the syllabus that you‟d like to address? Need to read a book or
pair of articles from your annotated bibliography to get rolling on your final paper? Know of a
novel, film, spoken word troupe, or other cultural work by a “Latina in las Américas” that you
would love to analyze? Are you interested in investigating the work of a relevant community-
based organization? This week‟s assignment is to follow your passion and share it with the
class. Submit a two-page reflection that addresses the following questions: 1. What did you
analyze and why? 2. What does it contribute to the knowledge about “Latinas in las Américas”?
3. What are its limitations/your criticisms? 4. Would you recommend that the material be taught
in this course? Why or why not? Volunteers will have the opportunity to briefly (3-5 minutes)
present to the class.

Spring Break!

WK 11        Latina Sexuality/ies and Queer Activism
4/7 Guest Panel: Ayari Aguaro, Carolina Ramos…
Assignment: Researcher/Teacher/Activist as Curandera Proposal Due

Heidenreich, Linda. “Learning from the Death of Gwen Araujo? Transphobic Racial
Subordination and Queer Latina Survival in the Twenty-First Century.” Chicana/Latina Studies:
The Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social, 6:1 (Fall 2006): 50-86. (BB)

Palacios, Mónica. “Tomboy,” Living Chicana Theory. Berkeley, CA: Third Woman Press, 1998.

4/9 López, Natashia. “From Between Our Legs.” Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers
Warned Us About. Ed. Carla Trujillo. Berkeley, CA: Third Woman Press, 1991. 156.

Cisneros, Sandra. “Down There.” Loose Woman: Poems. New York: Knopft, 1994. 79-85.

WK 12      Femicidio: Violence Against Racialized Women’s Bodies
4/14 Screening: Señorita Extraviada, directed by Lourdes Portillo. 2001. (76 min.)

Fregoso, Rosa Linda. “The Complexities of „Feminicide‟ on the Border.” Color of Violence: The
Incite! Anthology. Ed. Incite! Women of Color Against Violence. Cambridge, MA: South End
Press, 2006. 130-134.

4/16 Rojas, Clara Eugenia. “The „V-Day‟ March in Mexico: Appropriation and Misuse of
Local Women‟s Activism.” National Women’s Studies Journal 17, n. 2 (Summer 2005): 217-

Chinchilla, Maya. “Mi querido 24 th and Mission.” Toltecayotl Cihuatl: flor y canto. Ed. Mujeres
de Maiz. Self-published Zine. Los Angeles, CA. n. 4: 5. Visit them at:

WK 13          Feminism in Nicaragua
4/21 Guest Speaker: Dr. Victoria Gonzáles-Rivera, “Before the Revolution: A Research
Journey into the History of Nicaraguan Feminism”

González, Victoria. “Somocista Women, Right-Wing Politics, and Feminism in Nicaragua,
1936-1979.” Radical Women in Latin America: Left and Right. Eds. Victoria González and
Karen Kampwirth. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001. 41-78.

Selection from Gioconda Belli‟s The Country Under My Skin: A Memoir of Love and War. (BB)

WK 13         Latina Immigrant/Migrant Workers
4/23 Guest Speaker: Dr. Maria de la Luz Ibarra, “„My Reward is Not Money‟: Deep Alliances
and End of Life Care Among Mexicana Workers and Their Wards.”

Reading TBA

WK 14      Social Justice in Chiapas
4/28 Guest Speakers: Michele Lenoue, M.A., and Elizabeth Saenz, M.A. Candidate

Selections from Dissident Women: Gender and Cultural Politics in Chiapas. Ed. Shannon
Speed, R. Aída Hernandez Castillo, and Lynn M. Stephen. Austin: University of Texas Press,
2006. (BB)

4/30   Screening: Chiapas Media Project documentaries

WK 15         Latina Health and Healing
5/5 & 5/7     Assignment: Community Table

Selections from Speaking from the Body: Latinas on Health and Culture

5/12          Class Presentations
Assignment: Researcher/Teacher/Activist as Curandera Final Project/Paper and Oral
Presentation Due

Finals Week Class Presentations, continued

                    Appendix 1: Course Policies and Additional Information

Grading Policies

Grades are calculated on a standard scale, with pluses and minuses as appropriate. Late
submissions are only allowed for exceptional circumstances and with previous approval from
instructor. Otherwise, you will be graded down one letter grade for every day you are late. The
Graduate Assistant and I will make an effort to return assignments within two to three weeks.
Criteria for assigning grades is as follows:

               A = outstanding, available for highest accomplishments
               B = praiseworthy, above average
               C = average, satisfactory performance
               D = minimally passing, below average
               F = failing

      The assignment of letter grades is as follows:

                        B+ = 87-89     C+ = 77-79       D+ = 67-69         F = < 60
       A = 94-100       B = 84-86      C = 74-76        D = 64-66          No curves
       A- = 90-93       B- = 80-83     C- = 70-73       D- = 60-63

Course Policies

STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES: Students who need accommodation of disabilities
     should contact me privately to discuss specific accommodations for which you have
     received authorization. If you have a disability, but have not contacted Student Disability
     Services at 619-594-6473 (Calpulli Center, Third Floor, Suite 3101), please do so before
     making an appointment to see me.

EMERGENCIES: If you have an unexpected emergency and miss turning in a
    major assignment, you must notify the Graduate Assistant that day via email.
    Documentation of emergency is required. However, there are no make-ups for quizzes.

ABSENCES: You do not have to notify us about the circumstances surrounding
     your absence in general, unless you have special circumstances and/or an extended
     absence. In that case, email the Graduate Assistant who will be keeping a log and
     providing Dr. Lara with regular updates. For example, by the end of the second week of
     classes, students should notify the GA regarding planned absences for religious
     observances, athletic competitions, or academic conferences or meetings.

APPEALING A GRADE: You can appeal a grade by using these guidelines:
        Must be appealed within one week after assignments have been handed back.
        Must include a typed explanation thoroughly outlining the reasons why you think
        your assignment was not graded properly.
        Must include the original copy of your graded paper.

CHEATING & PLAGIARISM: Violations of academic integrity will be reported to
    the university disciplinary office. This includes: "recycling” or “borrowing” papers or parts
    of papers from other courses or students, purchasing papers on-line or from other paper
    brokers, plagiarizing and other forms of academic dishonesty. See Appendix 2 for more

CLASSROOM BEHAVIOR: Come to class with your course reader, books and/or
     notes, readings completed, and prepared to discuss them. Expect that we will cover a wide
     range of topics and will not always agree on which interpretations are best. But be prepared
     to defend your point of view. At the same time, whenever you agree or disagree with me or
     with other students, do so respectfully by drawing on course materials and informed

       Courtesy Reminders:
       *Turn off pagers, internet connections, cell phones, etc. during class.
       *It is not acceptable to side-talk, read non-class materials, text message, surf the web, sleep,
       etc. during class. You will be asked to leave.
       *Do not start getting ready to leave until the class has ended.
       *Let me know if you must leave early or arrive late.

Thinking about a Major or Minor in Women's Studies?

The program offers exciting courses, is committed to women's issues and social justice, and is
adaptable to your interests and concerns. Women's Studies is not impacted! For more
information contact the Undergraduate Advisor: Dr. Irene Lara,, 594-7151.

                                   Appendix 2: Cheating and Plagiarism

Cheating and plagiarism are serious offenses. You are plagiarizing or cheating if you:

      for written work, copy anything from a book, article or website and add or paste it into
       your paper without using quotation marks and/or without providing the full reference for
       the quotation, including page number
      for written work, summarize / paraphrase in your own words ideas you got from a book,
       article, or the web without providing the full reference for the source (including page
       number in the humanities)
      for an oral presentation, copy anything from a book, article, or website and present it
       orally as if it were your own words. You must summarize and paraphrase in your own
       words, and bring a list of references in case the professor asks to see it
      use visuals or graphs you got from a book, article, or website without providing the full
       reference for the picture or table
      recycle a paper you wrote for another class
      turn in the same (or a very similar paper) for two classes
      purchase or otherwise obtain a paper and turn it in as your own work
      copy off of a classmate
      use technology or smuggle in documents to obtain or check information in an exam

In a research paper, it is always better to include too many references than not enough. When in
doubt, always err on the side of caution. If you have too many references it might make your
professor smile; if you don‟t have enough you might be suspected of plagiarism.

If you have any question or uncertainty about what is or is not cheating, it is your responsibility
to ask your instructor.

Consequences of cheating and plagiarism

Consequences are at the instructor‟s and the Judicial Procedures Office‟s discretion. Instructors
are mandated by the CSU system to report the offense to the Judicial Procedures Office.
Consequences may include any of the following:

      failing the assignment                                probation
      failing the class                                     suspension
      warning                                               expulsion

 For more detailed information, read the chapter on plagiarism in the MLA Handbook for
 Writers of Research Papers (6th edition, 2003); visit the following website and talk to your professors before
 turning in your paper or doing your oral presentation if anything remains unclear. The
 University of Indiana has very helpful writing hints for students, including some on how to cite
 sources. Please visit for more information.


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