Return to instructor home page 

Dr. Elizabeth C. Martínez
Nichols 212, tel. 664-3161
Office hrs: M/W 4-5 and Thurs 3-4 or by appt.


CALS 474, Latina/Latino Major Authors

Spring 2009

Required Texts: (available in SSU Bookstore)

Trini by Estela Portillo-Trambley; The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros; Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas; How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez; and The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wau by Junot Díaz. In addition, other short readings will be assigned.

Students are required to consult the following biographical/critical dictionaries to do work for their research presentations: Latino and Latina Writers, Alan West-Durán, Ed. Call#PS153.H56 L39 2004 , and Chicano Literature, Third Series (1999), Francisco Lomelí, Ed. Call#PS221.D5. Both are located in the 2nd floor library Reference area.

Selections from the following texts, held at the SSU Library on "Reserve", will also be assigned: A Companion to U.S. Latino Literatures (2007), Carlota Caulfield, Ed.; Josefina Niggli, Mexican American Writer: A Critical Biography (2007), E.C. Martinez (one copy of each novel is also on Reserve). Students can also consult two databases: Latino Lierature Online, and Contemporary Authors.

Objectives: To study the idea of "major figures" in U.S. Latino literarature, what it means, how it is determined critically, what figures are representative; to then make individual assessments after reading and research.

Students should arrive at class having completed the reading assigned as discussion for that date.

Outcomes of student learning: Each student will embark on research and reading, presenting findings in oral presentations, discussion in class periods, and in written analysis. Students' final papers should express culminating analysis and critical thinking at the senior level.

Evaluation/Course Grading:

Class attendance and participation, 10%

Three take-home Essay Exams, 15% each for a total of 45%

Two Research Presentations, 10% each, total 20%

Final Paper, 25%


Jan. 26/28 -- First class, explanation of concept. / Discuss Ch.1, Companion to U.S. Latino Literature

Feb. 2/4 -- Early Writers, Discuss Américo Paredes, Josefina Niggli. / Discuss Niggli's "The Ring of General Macías"(pp.92-114) and "AVisitor for Domínguez" (pp.178-184).

Feb. 9/11 -- Discuss "first" novels: Villarreal, Anaya, Rivera, Cisneros. / Begin discussion of Trini

Presentations on: Ma.Amparo Ruíz de Burton, Josefina Niggli, José Antonio Villarreal

Feb. 16-----Presidents Day holiday------- / Feb 18 -- Continue Trini

Presentations on: Rudolfo Anaya, Tomás Rivera

Feb. 23/25 -- Continue Trini

Presentations on: Estela Portillo-Trambley

Mar. 2/4 -- Begin discussion of The House on Mango Street

--------EXAM #1 DUE--------

Mar. 9/11 -- Continue House on Mango Street

Presentations on: Sandra Cisneros, Castillo, Chávez

Mar. 16/18 -- Continue House on Mango Street / Discussion of other Chicano writers.

Presentations on other Chicano writers: Villaseñor, Urrea, Viramontes, Morales

Mar. 23/25 -- Question for Class: When was first "dictionary" of Chicano Writers published? / Begin discussion of "Nuyorican"

Presentations on: Revista Chicanorriqueña,

Mar 30/Apr. 1 -- Discuss Down These Mean Streets / Ch.2, Companion to U.S. Latino Literature

-------EXAM #2 DUE---------

Apr. 6/8 -- Continue Down These Mean Streets

Presentations: other Puerto Rican-Am. writers, Cristina García and other Cuban-American writers

-----Apr. 13/15 -----------------------SPRING BREAK---------------------------

Apr. 20-24 -- Discussion of How the García Girls Lost Their Accents

Presentations on: Julia Alvarez

Apr 27/29 -- García Girls and begin discussion of The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wau

Presentations on: Junot Díaz

May 4/6 -- Continue Oscar Wau /

-------EXAM #3 DUE--------

May 11/13 -- Continue Oscar Wau / Final discussions


---------------Questions to guide reading and discussion:---------------

What is the scene/setting and the era?

Is there a pattern or style to the narrative or type of story being narrated? i.e., traditional format, non-linear, coming-of-age story--(the process of 'becoming" is a recurrent theme in Latino literature--), innovations. . .

What linguistic strategies are employed?

Where are the points of tension and surprise?


Political, historical connections?

Is the representation obvious or buried, a superficial rendering?

Does the storyline provide insights and perspectives missing from mainstream/traditional views?


Return to instructor home page 

This page last updated: 26 January 2009