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Overview of Latina/o Graduate Studies

The American Culture doctoral program at the University of Michigan offers students a strong interdisciplinary grounding in U.S. Latino/a Studies in the context of  dominant U.S. cultures and in comparison with other ethnic and racial groups in the United States. Our enthusiastic, and theoretically sophisticated faculty understand and foster links with broader critical models of analysis of social phenomena such as feminism, queer theory, transnational media studies, critical race theory, and border studies and theory. Latino/a studies is pursued as a rigorous inter-disciplinary field in dialogue with African American, Arab and Muslim American, Asian Pacific Islander American, Native American, and gender studies.

The program offers a broad-based cultural studies approach fully incorporating humanities and social sciences such as history, literature, film studies, ethnomusicology, and social movements.  Students will benefit from the rich programming that American Culture and other departments and programs have on campus. We work with faculty associates in a variety of departments across the University, including Anthropology, English, Screen Arts & Cultures, History, Romance Language and Literatures, and Sociology. 

Graduate students also have the option to participate in community-service organizations such as ALMA and PALMA, which encourage mentoring of local Latino/a youth.  We encourage students to establish links with Latino/a communities in local surroundings such as Ypsilanti and Detroit, which both possess vibrant Mexican and Puerto Rican communities. The proximity of East Lansing (an hour away by car) also means that students can take advantage of libraries such as the Julian Samora Research Institute and special events at Michigan State University.  Wayne State University, in Detroit, and its library, which has excellent holdings in the area of labor activism including the United Farm Workers Archive, also offers other possibilities for inter-university collaboration.  Finally, our program is participating in the Midwest Latino/a Studies Consortium, which fosters communication and collaborative projects among students, faculty and staff in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan.

Application for graduate study is made to the Department of American Culture within the Rackham School of Graduate Studies. Potential applicants are welcome to contact individual faculty to explore feasibility of topics of interest. Current U-M graduate students can also apply to the Latina/o Studies certificate program. 

Graduate Course Offerings

AMCULT 504/Sociology 504  American Immigration
Professor Silvia Pedraza

Both the study of immigration and the questions that study raises are at the very root of social science. In this course we survey the literature that gives evidence of the major concepts, questions, and approaches which sociologists have used to study immigration, as well as the interface between immigration, race, and ethnicity in America. In this seminar, we will seek to focus each session on a different topic, such as the origin of ethnic stratification, race, and racism; the contrasting theoretical explanations of assimilation and internal colonialism for the reality of group differences in social outcomes in America; the different levels of analysis, micro vs. macro approaches to immigration; the causes and consequences of the differential incorporation of immigrants in American society; political vs. economic immigrants as different social types; middleman minorities vs. the ethnic enclave vs. the ethnic economy as models of immigrant adaptation; women and migration; and social networks and gender as the link between micro and macro levels of analysis.

AMCULT 801.1 - Advanced Research Seminar in American Culture Studies: Trans Latina/o American Drag.
Professor Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes
This course will focus on anthropological, biological, ethnographic, literary, film, performance, and cultural studies approaches to the analysis of transgender (including transvestite, cross-dressing, drag queen, and drag king) identities and cultural practices in Latin America and the U.S., as well as briefly discuss transsexuality and intersexuality. Our readings will include literary and scholarly materials and documentary and fiction films on diverse countries. General discussions will be framed in the context of U.S. Latina/o, Latin American, and women-of-color feminism, queers-of-color theory, and LGBT activist struggles. Strong focus on Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and United States. Film screenings will be held on most (but not all) Mondays (7-10 PM), but films can also be seen at Film and Video Library (UGL) on your own.

Meet Together Classes
COMPLIT 770 - Sem Interdis, Section 001
SPANISH 821 - Gender&Sexuality, Section 001
WOMENSTD 698 - Special Sem, Section 004

AMCULT 699.3 History 698.4:  Samba, Rumba, Pop and Other Social Histories of Latin Music.  Professors Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof and Julie Skurski
This course presents a comparative perspective on the social history of popular music in Latin America, with a particular focus on Cuba, Brazil, and Latin American communities in the United States.  We will consider the emergence of creole African American cultures out of experiences of slavery and emancipation in the Americas as well as the complicated processes by which populist politics and nationalism incorporated popular music, including African American music, into Latin American national identities. We will also discuss the Latin American music in a global framework, thinking about Latin "crazes" in Europe and the U.S., the formulation of Latin American pop music in dialogue with international commercial music, and reflecting on the migration of Latin American musicians and publics to spaces like New York and Miami.   The class will participate in Afro-Cuban music and dance workshops and will help to mount an exhibition of photographs of the Salsa and Latin Jazz scene from the 1970s.

Other Graduate Classes Offered by Latina/o Studies Faculty

"Imperialism and Caribbean and Latino/a Literatures and Cultures"
Instructor:  Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes

This course focuses on the interrelation of U.S. imperialism and military expansion in the insular Caribbean (Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico) and U.S. Southwest, and the experience of present-day diasporic or colonized populations in the U.S., as portrayed, reflected, and discussed in literary and other cultural texts.  Theoretical discussions on meanings of race, ethnicity, diaspora, nationalism, globalization, imperialism, and colonialism, and the impact of these on categories such as gender, sexuality, and border theory.

"Latino/a Theater and Performance"
Instructor:  Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes

Historical, critical, and performance studies approaches to the understanding of theater and performance by Latinos/as in the U..S since the 1960s, focusing on Luis Valdez and the Teatro Campesino, Cherrie Moraga, the Nuyorican Poets cafe, Pregones Theatre, and other Chicano/a, Nuyorican, Cuban-American, Dominican, and Central and South American diasporic traditions.  Emphasis on migration and transnational issues, feminism, queer theory, contemporary debates on performativity and performance studies as well as on individual playwrights (Cortiñas, Cruz, Sánchez), performance artists (Alfaro, Baez, Fusco, Gómez, Peña, Palacios, Tropicana), and theater groups.

"Queers of Color, Feminism, and Transnational Theory"
Instructor:  Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes

This course discusses ways in which sexological, feminist, and dominant late twentieth-century queer theory debates excluded and/or pathologized issues relating to queer communities of color in the U.S. and around the world, and the many current critical and theoretical responses to that ommission.  Readings and films may include Anzaldua, Cruz Malavé, Eng, Ferguson, Fiol Matta, Franco, Gopinath, Johnson, Julien, Lancaster, Lorde, Moraga, Mohanty, Muñoz, Perlongher, Reid Pharr, Riggs, Rios Avila, Soto, Spivak.

Race, Citizenship, and Diaspora in the Caribbean. (Crosslisted in History and LACS)
Instructor:  Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof

This course explores the overlapping of several experiences of diaspora in the Caribbean -- one a consequence of the Atlantic slave trade, the other the result of "free" labor migration, throughout the Caribbean and to the United States, since the end of slavery.  How can we formulate a history of Caribbean migrations, and Caribbean experiences in the United States, that learns from and speaks to the central themes current in Caribbean national and comparative histories of freedom, race, gender, and citizenship?

"Refugees From a World on Fire": U.S./Third World Feminisms
Instructor: Maria E. Cotera

This course explores the various histories, methodologies, and cultural  practices that we have come to recognize under the academic rubric of  "U.S.-Third World Feminism" in a collaborative atmosphere aimed at producing an interdisciplinary collection of essays focusing on the history, theory, cultural productions and social conditions of women of color. The course provides an overview of the historical foundations and contemporary practices of U.S. Third World Feminism and explores the various theoretical, methodological and political debates that have shaped contemporary U.S. Third World Feminist praxis over the last several decades.

A Social History of Latin Music:
Instructors:  Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof Julie Skurski (Crosslisted in History, LACS, Atlantic Studies)

Music, dance, and other performative popular and commercial cultures offer a way to think about and research, expressions of creole African cultures, formulation of populist national identities, the strain of race on cultural conceptions of citizenship, class relations, urbanization, global cultural exchange, and transnationalism.  Latina/o Studies has long recognized the importance of music as a text for cultural analysis, here we take a hemispheric approach, seeking to understand the social history that undergirds the production and meanings of those texts, both in Latin America and the Latina/o U.S.Listening assignments and performance workshops supplement traditional readings and writing assignments.
"Transgender Culture in Latino/a America"
Instructor:  Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes

Anthropological, biological, ethnographic, literary, film, performance and cultural studies approaches to the analysis of transgender (including transsexual, transvestite, cross-dressing, drag queen and drag king) identities and cultures in Latin America and the U.S. and Canada.  Includes literary and scholarly readings and documentary and fiction films on diverse countries.  Strong focus on Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and United States.