In this class, students were asked to complete talking points, journal entries, a midterm essay, and a final essay.

Talking Points

Students are expected to write one paragraph about each week's readings or films. These will be the basis of in-class discussion.

Journal Responses

The purpose of the journal is to keep a written record of your immediate reaction to the assigned readings, films, and discussions. By collecting your own thoughts about a topic or film before class discussions, the journal should help you to better formulate your ideas and articulate your opinions in class. The journal can also serve as material for writing and revising your paper later in the semester. Entries should combine both your emotional and intellectual responses to the texts or films, as well as providing the opportunity to experiment with different readings and literary methodologies. Journals are not the same as book reports, movie reviews or plot synopses.


  1. Write in prose (essay) form, as opposed to note-taking, or listing.
  2. Try to focus on one or two aspects of the readings that you found especially intriguing, and be specific in your discussion (signaling a key passage is preferable to summarizing or recounting the plot).
  3. Experiment with asking and responding to a question that goes beyond plot and character.
  4. Aim for two (three maximum) well-written, well thought-out pages (avoid lengthy citations that take up precious space).
  5. Remember that journals are collected at the end of semester and that they form a substantial portion of your grade. Like all assignments, they should be your own work and rules and expectations regarding plagiarism are in full effect.

Midterm Essay-Juxtaposition of Texts

The purpose of a juxtaposition of texts is that it provides a context in which to further explore one written or visual work in relationship to another and draw some limited conclusions about each with respect to a specific issue found in both.

Using Sandra Cisneros' historical novel Caramelo, and any other assigned novel or film covered thus far in this class, explore one of the following topics:

  1. The value and drawbacks of traditional Latina values versus individual goals and desires. You should look at how this conflict plays out with the main character, but also for at least one minor character.
  2. The nature of any kinship tie that you see as central to both works (i.e., father-daughter, mother-daughter, grandmother-granddaughter, etc.). It might help to further juxtapose your examples with at least one counter-example in each instance—that is, if you are looking at the father-daughter kinship tie, you might contrast this with the character's mother-daughter relationship, or with the father-son relationships in the text).
  3. The extent to which "biology is destiny" for characters in each text with respect to how great a role their gender (such as issues involving body/beauty/ sexuality) plays in their lives or in how they are socialized.

Your essay should be 4-5 pages, double-spaced, standard font, spell-checked and proofread. It should include a Works Consulted page (which should contain your two primary sources as well as any secondary—Internet—sources you may have used, even if you do not directly quote them).

You should avoid long plot summaries, instead referring to specific episodes or moments that best illustrate your point whenever possible, just as you should not include lengthy set-off quotes, but opt instead for "key phrases" judiciously employed, i.e., when you want to draw attention to the precise way something is said or to the writing itself.

Final Essay

The final paper provides the opportunity to further research, write about and give a presentation on a topic of your own choice related to any of the writers, texts, or films assigned throughout the semester. You may choose to look in greater depth at any of the topics we have examined or you may propose a topic that has interested you and that exists in several of the works in question. In general, you should include in your examination at least three primary sources (memoirs, novels, films—at least one of which must be a book-length written text from the second half of the semester). If you wish to include a text that we haven't read (such as one of Allende's fiction works, or the sequel to Santiago's memoir), you can write on fewer works (in consultation with me).

As a first step, write a paragraph outlining concisely what your proposed topic is, what primary sources you will use and the title and author of at least one secondary source you have found (or the topic you will be seeking further information on). Acceptable secondary sources are articles, analyses or essays (and in some cases documentary film) that provide commentary on either specific texts, writers or Latina literature broadly defined (not internet text summaries or book reviews). It also helps to give your project a working title (which may or may not change for the final version) that points clearly to what you will be discussing.

Some types of issues that you might develop a topic around are:

  • Attitudes toward religion and spirituality in Allende, Santiago, and Rosario
  • How class (and/or nationality) influence the voice of Castedo, Allende and Rosario
  • The presence (or absence) of feminist ideology in the writing of Allende, Castedo and Garcia