Sample Course Materials

Below are several sample syllabi and other classroom materials that I developed for a variety of real and potential courses. Use the links on the right to jump to the section that you are interested in seeing.

Literature Syllabi

Contando historias y escribiendo la historia: The Historical Novel in 20th-Century Latin America

Since the first relaciones of discovery and conquest, the act of writing in Latin America has always constituted a delicate balancing act between recounting historical events and storytelling, confusing the domains of novelists and of historians. Beginning in the 1960s and 70s, novelists of the Latin American “boom” began to question the accepted, official narratives passed down from their literary predecessors, many of which were being used to prop up corrupt, repressive regimes. The 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s encounter with the Americas in 1992 provided another opportunity for authors to revisit and interrogate a particularly striking moment in Latin America's troubled past, while recent struggles to establish stable democracies in the region have afforded a new generation of authors the opportunity to reflect on the national myths upon which they are founded.

The word “historia” in Spanish has an ambivalence when compared to its English equivalents in that its two apparently conflicting meanings —“history” and “story”— are inextricably intertwined. The suggestion of a narrative, fictional aspect in history is thus, in a sense, already encoded in the language. Aristotle claimed in the Poetics that history has the responsibility to be true, even if unbelievable, while literature has the responsibility to be believable, even if not true. What shall we believe, then, when it becomes impossible to distinguish between the two?

Click to see course outcomes.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Distinguish analytically between different motivations underlying the production of historical fiction in Latin America;
  • Read, write, and speak knowledgeably about the importance and consequences of Latin American historical fiction;
  • Evaluate the problematic interplay between the ambiguity of historical events, allowing for the manipulation of historical memory by those in power, and the impact such memory has on ideology and desire in the present;
  • Contextualize the production of historical fiction within the socio-political and cultural needs and concerns of modern Latin American nations;
  • Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the thematic and aesthetic decisions that authors of historical fiction made, and how these decisions affected the literary tools they deployed in crafting their work.

Download a PDF of the syllabus.

The Novel of the Mexican Revolution

By the middle of the period of violence that we know as the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), a new literary genre emerged in Mexico. This new genre, which has come to be known as the Novel of the Mexican Revolution, includes many of the most celebrated Latin American novels of the 20th century, and is commonly regarded as one of the most important genres to emerge from Latin America. A century after the outbreak of the revolution, the Revolution remains a potent cultural signifier, and new literature that proposes to interpret its meaning and importance in new ways continues to appear on the market, and is being consumed, along with the classics of the genre, by Mexican readers in record numbers. The broad objectives of this course are to untangle the myriad ways the Revolution was and is bound up in Mexican life, to gain an enduring knowledge of the different phases of the Revolution and its aftermath, and to read and discuss the canonic (and some non-canonic) works in the genre.

Click to see course outcomes.

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Read, write, and speak knowledgeably, with a broad understanding sufficient to authoritatively discuss the explosion of literary production that came out of the Mexican Revolution;
  • Discuss the different phases of the Mexican Revolution with a deep knowledge of the complex forces that sparked the revolt and provided its momentum throughout ten years of violence, followed by nearly a hundred years of invocation in different contexts;
  • Understand the different phases in the interpretation of the Mexican Revolution, citing specific examples of literary production written during those phases, with an eye to the contemporary political or socio-cultural concerns of their authors.
Download a PDF of the syllabus.

Latin American Novels of Dictators and Dictatorships

In this course we will read 4 novels written over the course of the 20th century that address the question of Latin American dictatorships. The novels approach their subject in a variety of ways, from harsh condemnation to problematic, ambivalent sympathy, and in response to numerous literary and socio-political movements, including realism, surrealism, and magical realism. As Caudillo, Supremísimo, Presidente, Dictador, or without a name, we will investigate the literary depiction of dictators and dictatorships in the lives and psyches of Latin America.

Click to see course outcomes.

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Recognize patterns of similarities and differences in the depiction of dictators (and life under a dictatorship) by authors responding to a variety of 20th-century literary styles and movements, socio-political contexts, and ideological motives.
  • Trace the development of Hispanic American literature in the 20th century —the progression from the vestiges of 19th-century realism through the so-called post-Boom— through the lens of novels of dictators and dictatorship.
  • Appreciate the problematic relationship Latin America has with dictators and dictatorships —even those in the distant past—, and perceive how this relationship bears not only on historical memory, but on contemporary social and political structures.

Download a PDF of the syllabus.

Wonder in Colonial Spanish-American Literature

The works of Spanish America from the initial bewilderment of discovery through the long and often chaotic period of independence from Spain are characterized by their shifting attitude toward the concept of wonder. In this course, we will trace the development and variation in this attitude beginning with Cristopher Columbus’s Diario de a bordo and through the Renaissance in the 16th century, and follow its repercussions in the 17th-century New World Baroque.

Click to see course outcomes.

Broadly speaking, we will approach the concept of wonder from three distinct perspectives:

  • First, as a philosophical stance with which Europe sought to categorize, understand, and neutralize the New World as part of its unified world-view;
  • Second, as a convenient method for undermining restrictions on speech and writing in the colonial New World, and to fabricate or embellish the narratives transmitted back to Spain (often by omitting uncomfortable details);
  • Third and finally, as label for creole and indigenous writers to seize upon and appropriate in the service of Latin American proto-nationalism.

Download a PDF of the syllabus.

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Language Syllabi

Advanced Grammar & Composition

Offers practice in expository writing with emphasis on clarity, structure and idiomatic expression, focusing on a variety of topical issues. Students are introduced to practical applications and provided a review of selected grammar topics. Download a PDF of the syllabus.

Intermediate Spanish I

A continuation of SPAN 102, this course will continue to introduce the structure and sound of the target language. Develops the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Download a PDF of the syllabus.

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Presentations

Literature & Culture Presentations
Language Presentations
Prezi presentations (viewed best in fullscreen mode):

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Lesson Plans & Activities

Lessons
Activities

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Assignments & Assessments

Summative Assignments & Assessments
Diagnostic Assessments

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