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Latin American and Caribbean Studies 396:
Gender and Sexuality in Latin America and the Caribbean

Winter, 2019

Professor Ellen Mayock

MW, 8:00-9:30



Contact the professor

Reading list

Electronic Resources

Course description

Assignments and Blog;


Class presentations

LACS and Leyburn Library Resources; LACS 396 (2019) Research Guide


Final Grade

Latin American and Caribbean Studies Homepage


Class schedule



Course description

LAC 396 (3) - Capstone Seminar in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Prerequisites:  Completion of all other program requirements, junior or senior standing, or permission of the instructor.  This capstone course builds upon the foundations developed in LACS 101 and related coursework in the distribution areas.  Students discuss assigned readings centered on a key theme or themes of Latin American Studies in connection with an individualized research project.  Each student presents her or his findings in a formal paper, or other approved end-product, and summarizes the results in an oral presentation. The general theme for 2019 is “Gender and Sexuality in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

In brief, LACS 396 (Winter, 2019) is an advanced course designed to have students analyze literature and film of Latin American and Caribbean societies through the lens of gender and sexuality.

This course fulfills the capstone requirement for the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Minor. Students should consult the LACS website for more information about completing the Minor.


Scope and objectives of the Capstone:


The purpose of the capstone course is to provide the framework for students to delve more deeply into a specific topic in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.  The capstone course should lead students to greater sophistication in the conceptualization of ideas and projects relating to LA/C.  


The capstone experience differs from an individual, independent study in that we meet together regularly, discuss course texts, and deepen our understanding of a specific topic.  Select faculty from the LACS program may join the students at set intervals of the semester to offer their expertise, guidance, and feedback.  


Each student will devise a research project related to course content and will write an analytical paper OR creative/applied work for submission at the end of the course. The project will be in keeping with the students’ previous interests, talents, and explorations and, of course, the course theme. 


The analytical paper:


The analytical exercise may come closest to resembling a traditional project, but may be more interdisciplinary than other papers the students have written during their time at W&L.  More precisely, more than adopting a narrowly focused perspective from a single discipline, the paper should strive to make connections among disciplinary viewpoints.  For example, “Gender and Migration at the Borders” might use course texts (literature, film, documentary) and then draw from various social science disciplines, including economics, law, sociology, and politics.  While topics will vary, the criteria should be consistent: Each student chooses a topic that has emerged from the student’s LA/C experience or curriculum, draws from more than a singular disciplinary methodology, and advances the student’s understanding of the region through the lens of gender and sexuality. 



Final papers are term research projects of 15 pages (Times New Roman, 12 point).   


The creative or applied work:


While some students may be well served by traditional forms of scholarship, the Program recognizes the merit of producing creative or applied works.  For example, a sophisticated web portal database that collects immigration statistics and conclusions about specific concerns for women and/or transgender migrants is no less analytical in nature than the research paper described above, but its format may be more in keeping with the ultimate personal and professional goals of the individual student.  In contrast to a web project, creative applications might include an art exhibit, a photo-journalistic compilation, or fiction.  For example, a creative piece such as “Gender Moves: A Poetry Collection” could allow a student to synthesize important conclusions about gender and sexuality in LA/C in a creative medium.


·        This course approaches the study of Latin America and the Caribbean through a cultural studies approach—the analysis of literature and film through the lens of gender and sexuality.

·        We examine the constructions of gender and sexuality in LA/C as represented in literature and film.

·       We consider how gender and sexuality are crisscrossed, or intersected by, race, place of birth, religion, and class.

·        We supplement our analyses of cultural products with secondary texts that explore the history and theories of gender and sexuality in LA/C.

·        The research project permits students to explore specific gender/sexuality topics of interest (and, in particular, to choose a country or sub-region of LA/C on which to focus).

Reading List

Required literary texts:


Anzaldúa, Gloria.  Borderlands/La Frontera.  Aunt Lute, 1999.  *Selections on Sakai.


Arenas, Reinaldo.  Before Night Falls.  Penguin, 1994.


Cisneros, Sandra.  Loose Woman.  Vintage, 1995.


De la Cruz, Sor Juana Inés.  Selected Works. Ed. Edith Grossman.  W.W. Norton, 2015. 


Erauso, Catalina de, Michele Stepto and Gabri Stepto. The Lieutenant-Nun: Memoir of a Basque

Transvestite in the New World.  Beacon Press, 1997.


Partnoy, Alicia.  The Little School. Tales of Disappearance and Survival.  Cleis, 1998.



Films on Reserve: 

Before Night Falls (Julian Schnabel, 2000)

Fresa y chocolate (Strawberry and Chocolate; Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío, 1994)

La historia oficial (The Official Story; Luis Puenzo, 1985)

Quinceañera (Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, 2006)
Yo, la peor de todas (I, the Worst of All; María Luisa Bemberg, 1990)


Useful resources:   (Not required)

Chant, Sylvia, with Nikki Craske.  Gender in Latin America.  Rutgers UP, 2003. 128-60. *PDF


**Critical Concepts in Queer Studies and Education. An International Guide for the Twenty-First Century.  Eds. Nelson M. Rodriguez, Wayne J. Martino, Jennifer C. Ingrey, and Edward Brockenbrough.  New York: Palgrave, 2016.

            *Especially: Introduction (pp. 1-14); Privilege (pp. 219-28); Promoviendo (Promoting)

(pp. 229-38); and Trans Generosity (pp. 407-20) / *PDF


Feminist Manifestos.  A Global Documentary Reader. Ed. Penny A. Weiss.  New York: New York UP, 2018.

*Especially sections on Native American movements, Latin American movements, and Black Lives Matter.  See PDFs posted in Sakai.


Gender and Sexuality in Latin America—Cases and Decisions.  Eds. Cristina Motta and Macarena Saez.  Springer, 2013.  (Especially Chapters 6, 7, and 8 / *PDF)


Gender’s Place. Feminist Anthropologies of Latin America.  Eds. Rosario Montoya, Lessie Jo Frazier, and Janise Hurtig.  Palgrave, 2002.  257-96. *PDF


Gender, Sexuality, and Power in Latin America Since Independence.  Eds. William E. French and Katherine Elaine Bliss.  Rowman & Littlefield, 2007. 


Guy, Donna J.  “Gender and Sexuality in Latin America.”  The Oxford Handbook of Latin American History.  Ed. José C. Moya.  Oxford UP, 2010.


Latina Legacies.  Identity, Biography, and Community.  Eds. Vicki L. Ruiz and Virginia Sánchez Korrol.  Oxford, 2005.


Milian, Claudia.  Latining America.  Black-Brown Passages and the Coloring of Latino/a Studies.  The U of Georgia P, 2013.


The Politics of Sexuality in Latin America.  A Reader on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights.  Eds. Javier Corrales and Mario Pecheny.  U of Pittsburgh P, 2010.  (*pp. 358-64 on Reinaldo Arenas / *PDF)


General:  (Not required)

Black in Latin America (PBS).  Available in Leyburn.

Latin America and the Caribbean.  Clawson, David L.  (Oxford UP, 2012, 5th Edition) 

Understanding Contemporary Latin America. Hillman, Richard S., ed. (Boulder, 2005)

Winn, Peter.  Intro textbook.



Class Blog:


Students complete five journal entries on films from Latin America and the Caribbean.  These journals are due (posted on the blog and then in class) on the assigned days (see course schedule).  Deadlines are firm

·         For our LACS 396 blog, students must follow these instructions in order to share their analyses of the selected LA/C films:

·         View the assigned film.  Open a Word document and complete the following steps;

·         Include the title of the film, its source (link), and a creative title for your post, and then briefly summarize the plot and the film’s relevance to our study of gender and sexuality in LA/C (50-75 words);

·         Write a critical reaction of 250-300 words.  The critical reaction can be comparative (e.g. how does the portrayal of a gender/sexuality theme in this film compare to that of another course text?), prescriptive (e.g.  I understand the problem, and I offer solutions from other local/regional/national contexts here), analytical (e.g. the recurring symbol of X reveals Y about the portrayal of sexuality in this region of LA/C), and/or supplementary (e.g. this film is interesting, but it neglects to address X point, which I’m addressing here).  The reaction should demonstrate increasing understanding of the complexities and nuances of the portrayal of gender and sexuality in LA/C;

·         Include a word count.  Print the word document, write out the FULL PLEDGE, and SIGN the pledge.  Place the paper document in a two-pocket folder for submission to Prof. Mayock on the assigned day;

·         Post your article write-up by 7:00 pm on the day before the class discussion;

·         You must ALSO read and comment on the blog posts of two classmates.  Comments must be posted before the start of class (____ am) on the assigned day.

Class presentations:

·        As assigned, students present in class on specific theoretical gender and sexuality topics and relate the topics to what we know about Latin America and the Caribbean.  Presenters must provide a one-page handout/summary for students and the professor for all presentations. Presenters must organize carefully the format, content, handout, and discussion questions (*what are the principal issues addressed in the article; how have we seen them before; how do they apply to books and films examined in this class?) and must be prepared to answer questions from the class.  Presentations should be no more than 12-15 minutes in duration.  Students should not read from their materials, but rather should present their ideas in a creative, lively, informative way. 

Presentation 1: Monday, Jan. 14:  “Gender and Sexuality in Latin America” (Donna J. Guy)/*Sakai

Presentation 2: Wednesday, Jan. 16:  “Trans Generosity” (Nelson M. Rodriguez)/*Sakai

Presentation 3:  Friday, Jan. 25:  “Transnational feminisms in question” (Breny Mendoza)/*Sakai

Presentation 4:  Wednesday, Jan. 30:  “Privilege” (Blas Radi and Moira Pérez)/*Sakai

Presentation 5:  Monday, Feb. 11: “Promoviendo (Promoting)” (Rigoberto Marquez)/*Sakai


Research paper and/or creative work:  See information above.

Testing:  Students will take the midterm exam at the Global Discovery Laboraties on the date indicated on the syllabus.  GDL hours of operation are posted on the web site: 

Honor System:  Unless otherwise indicated, all work submitted by a student to the professor should be the student’s own work (and not work copied from another student or copied/borrowed without citation from another source).  The professor will give clear guidelines for each assignment and quiz/test.

Final Grade

Class preparation and participation


Blog Entries (on 5 assigned films)


Oral Presentation


Midterm Exam


Research Project



Grading Scale:

100-90   A

89-80     B

79-70     C

69-60     D

59-0       F



Washington and Lee University makes reasonable academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. All undergraduate accommodations must be approved through the Title IX Coordinator and Director of Disability Resources, Elrod Commons 212, (540) 458-4055. Students requesting accommodations for this course should present an official accommodation letter within the first two weeks of the term and schedule a meeting outside of class time to discuss accommodations. It is the student’s responsibility to present this paperwork in a timely fashion and to follow up about accommodation arrangements. Accommodations for test-taking must be arranged with the professor at least a week before the date of the test or exam, including finals.

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Page last modified 2/5/19.