Syllabus

COMM 3321 / PRLS 3264 / WGSS 3260
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 2:00 – 3:15 PM
Monteith 315

Instructor: Jorge A. Castillo
Email: jorge.castillo.uconn@gmail.com
Office: El Instituto, Ryan Building 233
Office hours: Tues/Thurs, 3:30 – 4:30 PM

Course Description
In this course, we will examine how Latinas in media are produced and represented in the U.S. and its cultural significance for the Latino community. Through our close examination of television, film, advertising, newspapers, magazines and other new media, we will consider the following questions: What is the relationship of Latinas to mainstream media and other representations of women? Do representations of Latinas vary depending on the media being studied? What are the consequences of the appropriation, of what some critics call “the symbols of ethnic pride,” of the fictitious “Latina body”? Conversely, does the representation vary depending on whether it is coming from within the community or mainstream media? How are Latinas being commodified as a result of these representations? Our goal in this course is to understand and analyze past and current representations, as well as engage them in an effort to rectify simplistic images and complicate future representations of Latinas in the media.

Required Texts
Most of the required readings will be available as PDFs on our course blog under Schedule. There are numerous links on this webpage that take you to various assignments and readings we will be doing throughout the term. Also, please consult the Bibliography for further research materials.

Attendance & Participation
Attendance and active participation in class discussions are essential to this course. Absences must be properly documented in order to be excused, but for a class that only meets twice a week missing one class can have a great impact on your overall participation. If you miss class, you are responsible for getting notes from a classmate and keeping up with assigned readings. You will also be counted absent if you are significantly late to class, do not have the assigned reading, or are not on task (e.g., texting, checking Facebook or email on laptops).

Attendance alone will not ensure you get full credit for participation. You must actively engage in our class discussions. Sometimes we may discuss sensitive topics, and while you may not always agree with the views presented in the material or the ideas expressed by our fellow classmates, we must always remain civil and respectful of each other. Derogatory remarks will not be tolerated. See this course as an opportunity to challenge yourself by bringing your personal experiences and interests while thinking critically about a variety of issues.

Academic Integrity & Plagiarism
Students are expected to abide by The Student Code regarding academic integrity. It is your responsibility to read and understand The Student Code. Academic misconduct in any form will not be tolerated, including but not limited to: (a) providing and receiving assistance on academic work not previously authorized by the instructor; (b) doing academic work for someone else; (c) not creating original papers or projects created for this course; (d) dishonestly influencing anyone to better your grade; (e) plagiarism.

Students found guilty of academic misconduct may suffer a range of penalties, from failing the given assignment to failing the course, or even expulsion from the University.

Students with Disabilities
Students who may need accommodations because of a disability should contact the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD). They will inform you of the documentation necessary to provide you with the proper accommodation to help you succeed in this class. They will contact me directly with instructions on how to accommodate you. Requests without the proper certification from CSD or after the fact will not be accepted.

Course Evaluation

  • Participation                     30%
  • Blog Responses                30%
  • Term Project                     30%
  • Midterm &
    Final Self Evaluations     10%

Participation
Active participation and engagement in class is the most important component of our course. Participation will include your attendance, being prepared and on task for class, meaningful engagement in class discussions, group work, and leading at least one class discussion. Leading the class discussion is by no means a formal presentation. Instead, you are responsible for preparing a few discussion questions or topics related to the text or film for the day. You must include an an audiovisual component, a digital handout or PowerPoint (uploaded as a post), and a brief bibliography (which should be added to our course Bibliography). All information will be incorporated into our course blog/wiki. Please make sure to properly cite where needed. Your grade will be based on: content knowledge, organization, visuals, delivery, and creativity to involve your classmates. You will also be required to have a Twitter account which we will use to share articles and news relevant to our course.

Blog Responses
We will continue to discuss Latinas and Media outside of class through the use of a course blog. Your blog posts should reflect on texts and films, in-class discussions, additional research you are doing, as well as personal insights you might be comfortable sharing that relate to the issues being discussed. See more information the Blog page.

Term Project
Students will investigate a topic/area relevant to this course and prepare a project that will not just analyze, but complicate and rectify how Latinas have been (and are) constructed in the media. Consider if and how self-representation plays a role. While you will be expected to conduct as much research as you would for a traditional research paper, your term project should have in mind a larger audience beyond the confines of our classroom (and your instructor). It can take any number of forms, including but not limited to short films, videos, digital photography, podcasts, contributions to an online newspaper/magazine, etc. However, you must produce a finished digital item that will be presented the last week of the semester and will be available to others outside our class. You must use copyright free or sources that are shared under creative commons if you are not the creative owner. You will also be responsible for a short 3-5 page analytical rational explaining your project and contribution (if part of a group).

Midterm & Final Self Evaluations
Even though I ultimately will be assessing your overall final grade, you will also be responsible for evaluating your own work and contribution to class. You will write a midterm and final self-evaluation reflecting on our work and contributions through the course. Being cognizant of your own progress and contribution will play a big role in how I assign grades, specially your Participation grade. I will give as much feedback as possible; however, in a class of this size your self-evaluations will give me a more personalized account of your process. My intention is for you to focus on your learning and course performance.