Latino/a Performance in Fiction, Drama, and Film (Syllabus for Graduate Seminar)



This graduate seminar focuses on Latino/a performance and its representation within a variety of genres, including poetry, fiction, drama and film. We will be addressing three historical periods of performance, beginning with the context of the civil rights era, to a phase of representing musical performance, and closing with a post-sixties negotiation of the previous phases. By bringing Latino/a studies criticism into conversation on the subject of Latino/a performance, we will address issues of genre as well as questions of authenticity, language, history, the intersection of politics and the marketplace.


Primary Texts

Nuyorican Performance Poetry Packet, includes Pedro Pietri, “Puerto Rican Obituary” and “Spanglish National Anthem”

Luis Valdez, Los Vendidos (1971)

Miguel Piñero, Short Eyes (1975)

Dolores Prida, Beautiful Señoritas. (1977)

Lynne Alvarez. The Guitarron. (1983)

Federico Fraguada, Bodega. (1986)

Miguel Algarin and Tato Laviera, Olú Clemente (1989)

Josefina Lopez, Simply María, or The American Dream (1996)

Nilo Cruz, Anna in the Tropics (2003)

Black Artemis, Picture Me Rollin’ (2005)


Secondary Texts

Ilan Stavans, The Hispanic Condition (1995)

Gustavo Pérez Firmat. Life on the Hyphen. (1994)

Frances Aparicio. Listening to Salsa. (1998)

Juan Flores. From Bomba to Hip-Hop. (2000)

Lisa Sánchez González. Boricua Literature. (2001)

Agustín Laó-Montes and Arlene Dávila, Eds. Mambo Montage (2001)

Arlene Dávila. Latinos, Inc. (2001)

The journal, Latino Studies, Volume 1, Issue 1 (2003)

Frances Negrón Mutaner, Boricua Pop (2004)

Raphael Dalleo and Elena Machado Sáez. The Latino/a Canon and the Emergence of Post-Sixties Literature. (2007)


Films to be viewed in class: 

El Super. (1979)

Zoot Suit. (1981)

The Mambo Kings. (1992)

Selena. (1997)

Raising Victor Vargas. (2002)

Washington Heights. (2002)





Civil Rights Sixties Era

Week 1                        Introduction to the course.

                                    Pedro Pietri, “Puerto Rican Obituary.”

                                    Nuyorican Performance Poetry.

                                    Frances Negrón Mutaner, “Feeling Pretty: West Side Story and U.S. Puerto Rican Identity.” (From Boricua Pop.)


Week 2                        Miguel Piñero, Short Eyes. (1975)

                                    Lisa Sánchez González, “The Boricua Novel: Civil Rights and ‘New School’ Nuyorican Narratives.” (From Boricua Literature.)


Week 3                        Dolores Prida, Beautiful Señoritas. (1977)

                                    Viewing of the film El Súper. (1979)

                                    Ilan Stavans, “Sanavabiche.” (From The Hispanic Condition.)


Week 4                        Luis Valdez, Los Vendidos. (1971)

                                    Viewing of the film Zoot Suit. (1981)

                                    Dalleo and Machado Sáez, “Writing in a Minor Key: Postcolonial and Post-Civil Rights Histories in the Novels of Julia Alvarez.” (Chapter 5 of The Latino/a Canon.)


Week 5                        In-class Peer Review.


Musical Turn

Week 6                        Pedro Pietri, “Spanglish National Anthem.”

                                    Miguel Algarin and Tato Laviera, Olú Clemente. (1989)

                                    Dalleo and Machado Sáez, “Periodizing Latino/a Literature Through Pedro Pietri’s Nuyorican Cityscapes.” (Chapter 1 of The Latino/a Canon.)


Week 7                        Viewing of the film The Mambo Kings. (1992)

                                    Gustavo Pérez Firmat, “The Desi Chain.” (From Life on the Hyphen.)


Week 8                        Viewing of the film Selena. (1997)

                                    Frances R. Aparicio, “Jennifer as Selena: Rethinking Latinidad in Media and Popular Culture.” (From Latino Studies.)

                                    Alicia Gaspar de Alba, “The Chicana/ Latina Dyad, Or Identity and Perception.” (From Latino Studies)

                                    Mark Zimmerman, “Erasure, Imposition and Crossover of Puerto Ricans and Chicanos in US Film and Music Culture” (From Latino Studies.)


Week 9                        Black Artemis, Picture Me Rollin’. (2005)

                                    Dalleo and Machado Sáez, “Mercado Dreams: The End(s) of Sixties Nostalgia in Contemporary Ghetto Fiction.” (Chapter 2 of The Latino/a Canon.)

                                    Raquel Z. Rivera, “Hip-Hop, Puerto Ricans, and Ethnoracial Identities in New York.” (From Mambo Montage.)


Week 10                      In-class Peer Review.


Post-Sixties Performance

Week 11                      Federico Fraguada, Bodega. (1986)

                                    Arlene Dávila, Introduction and “Selling Marginality: The Business of Culture.” (From Latinos, Inc.)

                                    Dalleo and Machado Sáez, “Latino/a Identity and Consumer Citizenship in Cristina Garcia’s Dreaming in Cuban.” (Chapter 4 of The Latino/a Canon.)


Week 12                      Lynne Alvarez, The Guitarron. (1983)

                                    Viewing of the film Washington Heights. (2002)

                                    Dalleo and Machado Sáez, “Lowercase Latino/a Realism in the Works of Junot Díaz and Angie Cruz.” (Chapter 3 of The Latino/a Canon.)


Week 13                      Josefina López. Simply María, or The American Dream. (1996)

                                    Viewing of the film Raising Victor Vargas. (2002)

                                    Juan Flores, “‘Salvación Casita’: Space, Performance, and Community.” (From From Bomba to Hip-Hop.)


Week 14                      Nilo Cruz, Anna in the Tropics (2003)

                                    Dalleo and Machado Sáez, “New Directions: The Post-Sixties Miami Imaginary” (Conclusion of The Latino/a Canon.)


Week 15                      In-class Peer Review and Closing Roundtable on Latino/a Performance and Genre


Week 16                     Final essay due one week after the final day of class.






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