Teaching 2 (Undergraduate Syllabus)

(The most recent undergraduate syllabus; please pardon the altered formatting; for copies of my other syllabi, please contact me)



Course Section:                          01

Meeting Time and Place:          TR 11:10am – 12:25pm Ayres 112

Credit Hours:                              03

Instructor:                                   Rudyard Alcocer, Ph.D.


Office Hours: T 12:30pm-1:30, Th 1:30pm- 2:30pm, & by appt.

Office: McClung Tower 616, telephone: 865-974-6996

Email (usually better method of contact than phone): ralcocer@utk.edu

COURSE DESCRIPTION: SPAN 484. Close reading and analysis of literary texts that address issues of race and ethnicity in the Hispanic world, especially with regard to identity and concepts of nationhood. Among possible course topics ― mestizaje; conceptual distinctions between race and ethnicity in Latin America; indigenismo; afrocentrism; issues of monarchy and empire; and relationship between Jews, Christians, and Moors in Spain. Writing-emphasis course.

Repeatability: May be repeated with consent of department. Maximum 6 hours.

(RE) Prerequisite(s): 323 and 330.

Comment(s): Requires completion of major or minor requirements in 332, 333, 334.

VALUE PROPOSITION: This course will expose students – in an organized and accessible manner – to several of the most important trends in literary studies, both in terms of Latin American & Caribbean cultures as well as broader theoretical concepts. Through the course, students a) will become more knowledgeable and conversant in these trends, b) deepen their knowledge of Latin America & the Caribbean, and c) become more self-reflective and sophisticated students of literature.

STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES: By the end of the course, students will be expected (in their final project) to produce a coherent and well-researched and documented comparative analysis of at least two of the assigned texts based on a theme common to these texts.

LEARNING ENVIRONMENT: I encourage you to be vocal but also mindful of what others say. With literature, sometimes there are no right answers, but rather varying degrees of passion, eloquence, and insight with regard to what we read. Please come to class having read assigned materials and ready to share your insights and to listen to those of others. You will notice that the readings are of varying lengths and apparent complexity. It is both your job and mine to give all the readings our full and undivided attention. The same holds true for class discussion and presentations, and for written work (which may often consist of short essays, but which should not be taken lightly on account of their brevity). The final essay involves a bibliography and research.


Student’s Responsibility Instructor’s Responsibility
  • Be prepared for all classes
  • Be prepared for all classes
  • Be respectful of others
  • Be respectful of the students
  • Actively contribute to the learning activities in class
  • Create and facilitate meaningful learning activities
  • Abide by the UT Honor Code
  • Evaluate all fairly and equally

 TEXTS/MATERIALS/RESOURCES FOR THE COURSE: Photocopies, PDFs, and one text to purchase:

Me llamo Rigoberta Menchú y así me nació la conciencia, Elizabeth Burgos


Additional resources for students:

(Schedule of classes)

requirements, and major guides)

VI. INFORMATION LITERACY/TECHNOLOGICAL RESOURCES: The course has a Blackboard site on which I will post announcements and basic materials such as grades and absences to date. I will announce any additional use of Blackboard. Please use my UT email address rather than Blackboard or any other electronic/social media for correspondence.


Requirements/Assessment: All assignments are due on the dates indicated below.  Reading assignments must be completed before coming to class.  Homework, preparation, and class participation are part of the final grade.  Every student is responsible for all the assignments indicated in the syllabus even when he/she is not present in class. All assignments must be completed by the date indicated on the syllabus or announced by the professor (note: quizzes and other informal writing assignments will seldom be announced prior to a given day’s class session). There will be no make-ups of quizzes unless the student presents official documentation of some extraordinary circumstance and the professor accepts it as a legitimate excuse. You have three days to contact the professor and make suitable arrangements. The professor is under no obligation to accept any late work that is not accompanied by a legitimate, official, verifiable excuse. Formal essays and other homework assignments are collected at the beginning of the class session unless otherwise announced. If you are absent or late, it is your responsibility to remain up to date on assignments and the direction of the course.

You must save all your work: keep spare copies of all electronic work, and keep work that is returned to you.

Note: this course uses the plus/minus grading system. Plus/minus Equivalencies:

A = 93-100, A –  =  90-92, B +  = 87-89, B  = 83-86, B –  = 80-82, C +  = 77-79, C  = 73-76, C –  = 70-72, D+  = 67-69, D = 63-66, D- = 60-62, F  = 0-59


  • Essays (4) 45% (the first is worth 5%, essays 2-3 10% each, and essay 4 20%. The last essay (i.e. the final project) involves a preliminary draft, a peer workshop, and a meeting with the professor, and an oral presentation [see below]). This essay, for undergraduates, will be between 5-7 pages. If you are a graduate student, please see guidelines below. The first three essays will be short (approx. 2 pages each).
  • Short writing assignments/miniquizzes (20%): There will be between 8 and 10 in-class short writing assignments or miniquizzes based on the readings for that day. These assignments/quizzes are usually given at the beginning of class and are used to assess students’ progress and diligence with their reading, as well as to stimulate thinking on relevant topics. They may not be made up without a valid, verifiable excuse.
  • Midterm 15%
  • Oral presentation 1 (groups of 2-3 students): 5-6 minute report on a specific country/region (please see instructor to arrange date) 5%
  • Oral presentation 2: 3-4 minute individual description of final project (5%)
  • Active class participation (10%)


Guidelines for Graduate Students in Spanish: In their final project, graduate students will produce a longer, publishable article of 12-15 pages (@3,500 words; MLA Style) with a minimum of 8-10 works cited (not just listed in the bibliography).

Attendance: You are expected to attend every class session. You are responsible for all material covered whether or not you attend class. A tardiness exceeding 10 minutes will be counted as an absence. If you arrive prior to 10 minutes after the start time but after I have checked the roll, you will incur a half absence. The same time scheme and corresponding penalties apply to early departures from class. In the case of an ongoing problem (such as a personal crisis or illness), students should consider withdrawing from this course and take it when circumstances improve. Students are allowed two unexcused absences without impact on the final grade (although mini-quizzes and in-class writing assignments may not be made up without an official excuse). Each additional unexcused absence will incur a 2 point reduction in the final course grade. Please see me if you foresee any issues with the attendance policy.

Participation: Students who receive full participation credit arrive to class on time, and contribute actively and pro-actively to class conversations, indicating quite clearly that they have read the materials thoroughly and have thought about them carefully; they work cooperatively and respectfully with their peers, while using the target language of the course (Spanish). Students who receive low participation scores are any combination of the following: chronically a) silent, b) absent, c) late, d) disruptive, e) often resort to English, e) eat, f) sleep, g) engage in irrelevant, personal conversations. Cell phone use, text messaging, blackberries, etc. are not allowed in class. You may use laptops and other technology as long as you do so clearly and unequivocally for the purposes of the class. Please see me if you have a medical condition that requires you to eat during class. NOTE: Class participation is graded on a strict and competitive 0-10 scale; 5 = mediocre, average class participation.

-Your sending an email to my email address does not constitute my agreement with and/or acceptance of its contents (for instance, emails of this sort: “Dear Prof. Alcocer, I will be traveling to my aunt’s funeral next month and will need to submit the essay on Friday instead of Wednesday. Thank you…”).

-Extra credit opportunities, if there are any, will be announced by the instructor.

COURSE FEEDBACK: At any time I welcome any and all your comments on the course. Please feel free to send me your comments electronically, although I much prefer conversations during my office hours or by appt. At the end of the term you will be asked by the university to provide an official assessment of the course and the quality of my instruction. Please make every effort to respond thoroughly to this request: your feedback is good for me and for the university!


UNIVERSITY CIVILITY STATEMENT (from the University Provost’s Campus Syllabus)

“Civility is genuine respect and regard for others: politeness, consideration, tact, good manners, graciousness, cordiality, affability, amiability and courteousness. Civility enhances academic freedom and integrity, and is a prerequisite to the free exchange of ideas and knowledge in the learning community. Our community consists of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and campus visitors. Community members affect each other’s well-being and have a shared interest in creating and sustaining an environment where all community members and their points of view are valued and respected. Affirming the value of each member of the university community, the campus asks that all its members adhere to the principles of civility and community adopted by the campus: http://civility.utk.edu/.”

-Academic Integrity. According to the University Provost’s campus syllabus, “An essential feature of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is a commitment to maintaining an atmosphere of intellectual integrity and academic honesty. As a student of the university, I pledge that I will neither knowingly give nor receive any inappropriate assistance in academic work, thus affirming my own personal commitment to honor and integrity.”

Plagiarism is presenting another person’s work or ideas as one’s own. Be particularly careful with online sources, as these have been problematic with some students. If in doubt about whether an activity constitutes plagiarism, please ask me before you submit your work for assessment. Cases of cheating are handled within the policies of the College of Arts and Sciences and in accordance with the University Statement on Students Rights. As a minimum punishment, a grade of 0 will be assigned for any piece of work for which cheating or plagiarism is proven.

  1. STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES POLICY: Any student who feels he or she may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at 865-974-6087 in 2227 Dunford Hall to document their eligibility for services. ODS will work with students and faculty to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.”
  2. THE INSTRUCTOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO REVISE, ALTER AND/OR AMEND THIS SYLLABUS, AS NECESSARY. STUDENTS WILL BE NOTIFIED IN CLASS AND/OR BY EMAIL OF ANY SUCH REVISIONS, ALTERATIONS AND/OR AMENDMENTS. Please check your UT email account on a regular basis or activate a forwarding mechanism to your preferred account. In the event of an absence, it is the student’s responsibility to gather information on any material she/he may have missed.


Aug 20:          Course Introduction (conceptual issues; Bolivar)

Aug 25:          Peter Wade essay

Aug 27:          Colón, Essay 1 written in class (topic given in class)

Sep 1:            Cortés, Group Presentation 1 (Raza y etnia en España 1400-1500)

Sep 3:            Amerindians, Marqués, Group Presentation 2 (América precolombina)

Sep 8:           “Colonial Sexuality,” castas, Group Presentation 3 (Mexico)

Sep 10:          Las Casas, Group Presentation 4 (Dominican Republic)

Sep 15:          Africa, Group Presentation 5 (Africa, trata de esclavos)

Sep 17:          Essay 2 due, documentary

Sep 21: Extra Credit Opportunity (6pm talk by visiting Cuban scholar); more info. to come.

Sep 22:          Sab, Group Presentation 6 (Cuba); visit by TFR?

Sep 24:          Cecilia Valdés, Martí

Sep 29:          Sarmiento, Group Presentation 7 (Argentina/Chile)

Oct 1:            Raza cósmica

Oct 6:            Hijos de la malinche

Oct 8:            Carlos Fuentes

Oct 13:          Midterm

Oct 15:          Fall Break (no class)

Oct 20:                      Elena Garro

Oct 22:                      Mariátegui, Group Presentation (Perú)

Oct 27:          Santa Cruz, Arguedas, Group Presentation (Colombia/Venezuela)

Oct 29:                      Guillén, Morejón, Proposal for Final Project due (1/2 page & biblio)

NOTE: Please plan on visiting my office during the month of November to discuss your final project; this meeting will last approximately ten minutes. A sign-up sheet will be made available.

Nov 3:           Vega, neo-taínos, Group Presentation (Puerto Rico)

Nov 5:           Latinos in US

Nov 10:         Modern Cuba

Nov 12:         Menchú, Group Presentation (Guatemala & Central America)

Nov 17:         Menchú

Nov 19:         Menchú

Nov 24:         Menchú, Peer workshop on final project

Nov 26:         Thanksgiving (no class)

Dec 1:            Menchú, Essay 3 due (reading journal on Menchú)

Final Project due in my office no later than 12:15pm on Monday, Dec. 7













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