The Latina/o Literature and Theory Minor

Welcome to the "further information" link for the Latina/o Literature and Theory Minor and activities related to Latina/o Studies in the English Department. Please note that there are two minors. One in the English Department for graduate students (see the graduate level courses below) and another much larger university-wide undergraduate Minor in Latina/o Studies. You can find information about the Undergraduate Minor in Latina/o Studies at the Carolina Hub for Latina/o Studies link. See below.

What follows are descriptions of courses that have been offered in the recent past or will be offered in the near future. These courses combine cultural studies, American Studies, literary theory, social theory, visual culture studies, feminist, gender, and queer studies, comparative ethnic studies, critical race studies, and psychoanalysis. For those of you who are interested in getting involved with the UNC-Chapel Hill Latina/o Culture(s) Speakers' Series, please click on the link at the end of these course descriptions. There are many ways to be involved—meeting speakers, advertising events, bringing your students and friends to the lectures and readings, communicating with area communities and the public at large, and so on. Please contact Dr. María DeGuzmán, Director of Latina/o Studies at UNC, at if you wish to volunteer some time.

You are invited to visit the Carolina Hub for Latina/o Studies and Resources in the Southeast.

Latina/o Literature, Culture, and Theory Courses—Past, Present, and Future:

English 22: Literature and Cultural Diversity
Accenting American: U.S. Latina/o Literature, 1960s onwards
Fall 1999
Professor: Dr. María DeGuzmán

"America is not the United States. … Latin America lives and breathes in the United States and vice versa," two cultural critics have claimed recently. The "Other" America and the growing "Latino" presence in the U.S. evoke both utopian hopes for and dystopian fears of cultural transformation. We will explore this transformation through some influential fiction (long and short), poetry, and essays by diverse "Latina/o" writers (mostly Chicana/o, Puerto Rican, and Cuban) in the U.S. Overarching questions for the course are: How do the texts we are studying represent and produce a process of what we might call "Latin(american)ization"? And, how does "Latin(american)ization" encompass not only "Hispanics," but "Americans" (in the hemispheric sense) of Native, African, and Asian descent? Discussion, weekly questions, and two eight page papers will give us the opportunity to consider the numerous manifestations of border culture; strategies of assimilation, resistance, and hybridization; ways of transforming the terms of dominance; and our own models or theories of cultural transformation.

English 290, section 2
Theorizing Latina/o Literature(s) and Culture(s)
Spring 2000
Professor: Dr. María DeGuzmán

What is meant by the designation "Latina/o Literature"? Are we speaking of one or many literatures and cultures? And how do we understand "Latina/o Literature" in relation to "Studies in Twentieth-Century English and American Literature"? How does it challenge received ideas of the latter? This course examines the definitional terms "Latina"/"Latino" by exploring concepts of one or a multiplicity of identities, positionalities, literary traditions and counter-traditions, paradigms of localization and globalization, of genealogies and disseminations, of bricolaged syncretisms and amalgamating syntheses. We will proceed to explore questions of canon formation and construction of cultural identity through the different and also converging theoretical lenses of "American" Literary Studies/Ethnic Studies, New Americas Studies, Gender & Queer Studies, and Postcolonial Studies. In the process, we will interrogate the rhetorical/ideological bases for various exclusions and inclusions, for peripheralizations and centralizations, of authors, texts, and practices, and for the redrawing of boundaries and borders.

The reading assignments consist of 36 critical and theoretical essays read over the course of 5 units by figures such as José David Saldívar, Mary Louise Pratt, Antonio Benítez Rojo, José Piedra, Chela Sandoval, and others. Participants must chose a piece of fiction, poetry, or drama by a Latina/o writer around which to focus their thoughts about these essays.

Assignments involve questions, oral presentations, and two papers (one short and one term paper).

This course will be conducted as a seminar.

English 6, First Year Seminar
The Doubled Image: Photography in U.S. Latina/o Short Fiction
Spring 2001
Professor: Dr. María DeGuzmán

What is the relation between words and visual images, specifically photographs? How do we or might we speak of that relationship? Do words and visual images compose, complement, and/or rival each other? How else might we describe this relationship? And is the relation one of continuity or discontinuity or both? Is "photo-graphy" a kind of writing as the term itself would suggest? And what can we say about stories that reference photos and, as their central device, "pretend" to re-construct them textually or ask readers to visualize them? Is there anything special about asking us to imagine a photograph or still film image versus any other thing? If so, how is it special and special in what ways and to what ends? For instance, when and how does the device of the photograph-in-the-text turn a "negative" (the absence of an actual photo) into a savvy meta-fictional maneuver, a comment on representation itself and the terms of power that structure representation? This course will bring to bear these and other relevant questions on 9 short stories mostly by U.S.-born Latina/o writers, but also by some Latin American writers who lived for extended periods of time in the U.S. or whose work has influenced U.S.-born Latina/o writers. Overall, this course embarks on an in-depth exploration of how and why Latina/o writers are drawn to the device of the obviously "textual" photo in the context of a hitherto dominant Anglo-U.S. culture that historically has tended to both "disappear" and "hyper-visualize" Latinos. Writers to be considered include Julio Cortázar, Achy Obejas, Ed Vega, Daniel Cooper Alarcón, Luisa Valenzuela, Junot Díaz, Nicholasa Mohr, Pablo La Rosa, and Leo Romero. In tandem with short stories by these writers, we will be reading the work of theorists and cultural analysts with "an eye to history," so to speak, such as Roland Barthes, Mary Louise Pratt, Michael Taussig, John X. Berger, Nelly Richard, Raphael Samuel, and others.

Assignments will involve weekly questions, an 8 page standard expository essay, and a special final project involving one of three possibilities--1. a final essay in the conventional sense, 2. a photo-text essay, or 3. the production of an original piece of short fiction that "responds" to one or more of the stories or essays read for the course and that is accompanied by a written account that justifies your choices and explains your reasons for them.

This course is designed to engage literary and cultural studies, communication studies, art history, philosophy, aesthetics, and politics.

English 50/Women's Studies 150: Fabulous Latinas/os: Literature, Performance, and Visual Art
Spring 2001
Professor: Dr. María DeGuzmán

This course will explore selected samples of literature, performance art, film, and photography by Latinas and Latinos whose works may be described as "queer" and moreover that "queer" or question the terms and norms of cultural dominance within which they are enmeshed. Among other things, we will attempt to historicize and contextualize the concept of "queer" and "queerness" in regards to various Latina/o cultures since the advent of the late 60s-early 70s U.S. Gay Liberation and Feminist movements and in relation to other concepts of identity such as "Gay and Lesbian" as well as to various Latina/o civil rights movements. The course will also consider the selected works on their own terms, both past, present, and future-oriented, and in relation to each other in regards to theme, form, and medium. Writers whose work will be explored include Gloria Anzaldúa, Cherríe Moraga, Ana Castillo, Rafael Campo, Elias Miguel Muñoz, Achy Obejas, Rane Arroyo, Luis Alfaro, Jaime Manrique, and John Rechy. Performance and visual artists include, but are not limited to, Alina (Carmelita Tropicana) and Ela Troyano, John Leguizamo, Frances Negrón-Muntaner, Ester Hernández, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and Laura Aguilar.

Afro-Latina/o Literature, English 22: Literature & Cultural Diversity, Sec. 1
Fall 2001 and Fall 2002
Professor: Dr. María DeGuzmán

This course focuses on Afro-Latina/o US literature written in English, that is, Anglophone works by Afro-Hispanics. The course explores how these works create a fusion between "Latina/o" and "African-American" cultures as well as reflect and produce a literary and cultural zone that exists in its own right in its many manifestations in the Americas. Most of the writers we will be studying are Afro-Latina/o as in Afro Puerto Rican or Afro Dominican and identify themselves as such. Other writers such as Jewelle Gomez who identifies as an African-American or Sonia Sanchez who got her "Hispanic"-sounding last name from her marriage to a Puerto Rican man (whose last name she decided to retain) have produced work that nonetheless suggests or forges a strong link between African-American culture and Latina/o cultures. Their work as well as that of self-identified Afro-Latina/o writers compels us to recognize and theorize "Afro-Latina/o" as more than a possible census-box identity. These stories, novels, poems, and essays multi-dimensionalize "Afro-Latina/o" from what might be considered "simply" hyphenated identity (although literary and cultural critic Jennifer DeVere Brody would argue there is nothing simple about living in the hyphen) into active identification, affiliation, and/or cultural alliance with particular resonances in and beyond the United States of America. In this course, we will investigate and analyze some of these resonances. Course format is mixed lecture/discussion.

Assignments involve 4 1-2-page written responses to the readings, a group oral presentation & active class participation, and two essays (one 8 pages and the second 8-10 pages). Required Reading: Evelio Grillo, Black Cuban, Black American (2000); Jesus Colon, A Puerto Rican in New York & Other Sketches (1961); Piri Thomas, Down These Mean Streets (1967); Jewelle Gomez, The Gilda Stories: A Novel (1991); Sonia Sanchez, "Catch the Fire," and "Bullet Holes of Resistance," in Wounded in the House of a Friend (1995); Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés, "Negrita," in Little Havana Blues (1996); Junot Díaz, Drown (1996); Miguel Algarín, Love is Hard Work: Memories of Loisaida (1997); and Loida Maritza Pérez, Geographies of Home (1999).

English 286: Studies in Latina/o Literature(s), Culture(s), and Criticism
Fall 2001
Professor: Dr. María DeGuzmán

This course involves a study of representative work by Latina/Latino writers and critics in relation to major social and historical trends and critical models for this literatureˇthe borderlands/border theory, biculturalism, mestizaje, tropicalization, diaspora, postcolonial pan-latinidad, and Afro-Latina/o disidentifications. It is designed to give you a basic grounding in Latina/o literature(s) and culture(s) along with a sense of some key categories of cultural identity as well as critical analysis. It interrogates the definitional terms "Latina"/"Latino" by exploring a multiplicity of identities, subject positions and temporalities, literary traditions, and paradigms of localization and globalization. It should provide you with a basis for posing questions about canon formation and the construction of literary and cultural histories and models as well as their mutual imbrication. The reading assignments consist of a mixture of literary and theoretical texts. Although a reading knowledge of Spanish is highly advisable, there are no pre-requisites.

Assignments: 1-2 page responses to the reading (do 5 of them on different units of reading), one 15-minute oral presentation (on your work in relation to the course readings), one short essay, 8–10 pages; and one seminar-length essay, approx. 20 pages.

American Studies 80, Sec. 1 & English 90C, Sec. 1: Southwest as Contact Zone: Reading "Chicana/o" and "Native American" in Relation Spring 2002. Class time: Tues. & Thurs. 2-3:15 p.m. Professor: Dr. María DeGuzmán

The Southwest: Southern California, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and its northern neighbor Oklahoma, perhaps Louisiana to the extent that half of it lies west of the proverbial "frontier" dividing line of the Mississippi River, and the interior provinces of New Spain and later the northern provinces of Mexico which prior to the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo extended into present-day Utah. The US Southwest/Northern Mexico borderzone was/is "home" to and "contact zone" of the following Native American nations, among others: the Natchez, the Comanche, the Apache, the Pueblo, the Navajo, the Hopi, the Mohave, the Papago, the Tarahumara, the Chumash, the Cochimi, etc. Additionally, the Southwest (as both the US and northern Mexico) is populated by millions of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans many of whom, particularly as politicized Chicanas/os, claim Aztec "heritage" both as a genealogical and a cultural concept. The Aztecs were concentrated in the central Valley of Mexico (quite far south of the US/Mexico borderlands). However, their imperial dominion extended up into the northern deserts of Mexico now the southwestern United States. Although it is the Aztec civilization that has been emphasized in much Chicana/o literature claiming indigenous "heritage," other native cultures are claimed as well, among them, many of those cited above. Hence, for example, a recent academic conference "All Women of Red Nations: Weaving Connections" includes writers who identify as "Chicana" as well as artists and scholars whose primary identifications are as "Native American" and yet have Spanish names. Reading a diverse set of works by writers of the Southwest we will explore connections between what have often been treated as distinct literatures--Chicana/o and Native American. These connections may be made by the writers themselves in their invocation of shared space, motifs, and kinship. Commonality may also take the form of shared struggle for socio-economic justice and representation (both specifically legal and more broadly cultural) against the ways in which "red" and "brown" people are managed by the US government, stereotyped, and compelled to cohabit in regions of increasingly scarce resources as a result of legacies of occupation, exploitation, and oppression. Sometimes connections appear as their seeming opposite, deliberate boundary drawing and rejection of crossroads notions of possible "similarity" or "affiliation." We will inquire into the causes and effects of these kinds of territorialities and namings that resist certain pan-ethnic, cross-cultural, and transcultural alliances or conflations of histories. Such territorialities may proceed from a well-justified fear about the commodifying dangers of facile "appropriation" including the loss of sovereign status under United States law. Writers include Paula Gunn Allen, Gloria Anzaldúa N. Scott Momaday, Rodolfo Acuña, Leslie Marmon Silko, Alfredo Véa, Jr., Ana Castillo, Joy Harjo, Simon Ortiz, Kathleen Alcala, and Graciela Limón. Course format is mini-lectures/much discussion. Assignments involve 2 two-to-three page written responses to the readings, an oral presentation & active class participation, and two essays (one 8 pages and the second 10-12 pages).

English 49E, section 2: Chicana/o Noir Fall 2003 Fall 2003 Professor: Dr. Mar╠a DeGuzmĚn

Noir," a term employed mostly for film but with roots as much in texts as in film—think of "LA noir," for instance, that was situated on the pulp fiction pages of novels and stories by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett before it made its way to the silver screen. This course examines another noir mode running parallel to and intersecting Anglo LA, San Francisco, Western/Southwestern noir and obliquely acknowledged in Hitchcock’s 1958 film Vertigo and Orson Welles’s film, of the same year, entitled Touch of Evil—Chicana/o [politicized Mexican-American] noir. Aside from some critical and theoretical readings on noir aesthetics, works to be considered include Américo Paredes’s The Shadow (1950s/1998), John Rechy’s City of Night (1963), Margarita Cota-Cardenas’s Puppet (1985), Lucha Corpi’s Eulogy for a Brown Angel (1992), Emma Perez’s Gulf Dreams (1996), Harry Gamboa, Jr.’s Urban Exile, Graciela Limón’s Erased Faces (2001), and Paco Ignacio Taibo II’s Returning as Shadows (2003). The course will be conducted as mixed lecture/discussion with two 8-10 page essays, two 2-page essays, and collaborative oral presentations.

American Studies 80, Sec. 1 & English 90C, Sec. 1: Comparative Study of Filipina/o American and Mexican American Literatures & Cultures.

Spring 2004.Professor: Dr. María DeGuzmán.

In the past I have taught English 90C/American Studies 80.1 as "The Southwest as ‘Contact Zone’: Native American and Chicana/o in Relation." The course has attracted and served students from the Department of English, American Studies, and the Sociology Department’s Interdisciplinary Minor in Social and Economic Justice. The third time I teach this course (Spring 2004) I would like to focus on a comparative study of Filipina/o and Mexican American experiences and cultural production in and in relation to the United States. I say both "in" and "in relation to" because, while many Filipinas/os and Mexican Americans are U.S.-born and while both these groups have been within the borders of the present day United States since at least the 18th century (consider Filipinos in Louisiana, for instance), both groups have long histories of imperial colonization by Spain and the United States as well as immigration to the United States, and, moreover, ongoing histories of migration within the United States and transmigration, of coming and going between the United States and the Philippines or Mexico respectively. (By the way, the Philippines and Mexico themselves have long been connected via Spanish colonial trade between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries). Filipina/o Americans now constitute the second largest group of Asian Americans as well as the second largest immigrant group in the United States. Mexican Americans constitute the most populous ethnicity of Latinas/os within the United States. This course will explore aspects of shared history and culture between these two groups in the U.S., particularly along the Pacific coast (California especially, where 50 % of U.S. Filipinas/os reside) but also elsewhere—the Midwest (Chicago) and the South (Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia, etc.). We will read historical and autobiographical narratives, short stories, poetry, and essays. Writers include Bienvenido Santos, Carlos Bulosan, Jessica Hagedorn, Luis Francia, Alfredo Vea, Virginia Cerenio, Catalina Cariaga, Gloria Anzaldúa, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Ana Castillo, and Juan Felipe Herrera. We will be reading essays by scholars such as Oscar Campomanes, Karin Aguilar-San Juan, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Yen Le Espiritu, E. San Juan, Jr., and Vicente L. Rafael, among others.

English 79: Introduction to Latina/o Studies. Spring 2005. Dr. María DeGuzmán
This course introduces students to the transdisciplinary field of Latina/o Studies, a field that generally combines the humanities and social sciences. The course will be oriented toward familiarizing students with some of the major questions within Latina/o Studies in terms of transnationalism, transculturation, ethnicity, race, class, gender, sexuality, systems of value, and aesthetics. It will help students to think about the curricular, institutional, and cultural implications of Latina/o Studies—particularly in relation to U.S. Literature, Literature of the Americas, American Studies, Latin American Studies, and even Transatlantic Studies. Much of the reading will be critical and theoretical but we will consider some primary verbal and visual works around and upon which to ground our discussions. Course requirements include two 2-3 page written responses, an oral presentation, one 8-page essay, and an 8-10 page essay. Class meetings will involve a mixture of lecture and discussion.

English 300, Seminar in Selected Topics: "American" Literature Under the Lens of Latina/o Studies. Fall 2005. Dr. María DeGuzmán.

This seminar applies Latina/o Studies paradigms to the study of U.S. literature ("American" literature) from the mid-19th century onwards and, in doing so, considers: the impact of the Mexican-American War and its outcome on literary and cultural production (works by Melville, Thoreau, Whitman, and María Amparo Ruiz de Burton); the Spanish-Cuban-American War of 1898 and Stephen Crane's War Dispatches, Mark Twain's essays, and Ambrose Bierce's fables; the poetry of William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, Hart Crane, and Rane Ramon Arroyo; and the prose of James Weldon Johnson (Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man and The Book of American Negro Poetry), Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, Faulkner, Ralph Ellison, John Rechy, Jessica Hagedorn, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Ana Castillo among others. This course serves a double function: to investigate some of the chief contributions of Latina/o Studies to the analysis of literature and culture more generally in the United States and to ask ourselves how such an investigation effects deep-structure changes in our understanding of "American" literature(s), culture(s), and history/histories. Assignments will involve some short responses, a 10-12 page essay, an oral presentation, and a longer 25 page seminar essay.


graphics/Maria DeGuzman speaks on work from her new book manuscript

graphics/Maria DeGuzman delivers a talk entitled "Night Becomes 'Latina'"

November 7, 2001 Dr. María DeGuzmán, assistant professor of Latina/o Literature(s) & Culture(s), gave a talk entitled "Night Becomes 'Latina': Mariana Romo-Carmona's Living at Night and the Tactics of Abjection" from work on her new book project manuscript. Sponsored by the Curriculum in Women's Studies.

Move on to find out about the Latina/o Culture(s) Speakers' Series.


Latina/o Literature and TheoryPrograms > Latina/o Literature and Theory

Wed. March 26th at 7:00 PM in the Frank Porter Graham Student Union Expansion Room 1505 (bottom floor, South Road level), there will be a public talk by Karen Tei Yamashita, Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California-Santa Cruz, entitled "The Floating Tropic: São Paulo/L.A./Tokyo" (on Japanese in Brazil, Brazilians in Japan, Los Angeles, Transculturation, and "LatinAsia"). Book signing after the talk. Prof. Yamashita is a guest of the UNC-CH Latina/o Cultures Speakers' Series. The Series is currently exploring intersections between Latina/o and Asian Diaspora Studies.

The Latina/o Culture(s) Speakers' Series brings distinguished speakers to UNC on a regular basis