AMST 318
Myths and the Making of Latine California
Last Offered Spring 2024
Division II Writing Skills
Cross-listed LATS 318 / REL 318
This course is not offered in the current catalog

Class Details

California is home not only to the largest ethnic Mexican population in the USA but also to the largest Central American population, while also being home to long-standing Latine communities hailing from Chile to Cuba. Since the era of Spanish colonization, especially starting in 1769, California has been woven into fantastic imaginations among many peoples in the Americas. Whether imagined as Paradise or Hell, as environmental disaster or agricultural wonderland, as a land of all nations or a land of multiracial enmity, many myths have been inscribed onto and pursued within the space we call California. In a state whose name comes from an early modern Spanish novel, how did certain narratives of California come to be, who has imagined California in certain ways, and why? What impact have these myths had on different Latine populations in the history of California, and how have different Latines shaped, contested, and remade these myths as well as the California landscape that they share with other peoples? In this course, we consider “myth” as a category of socially powerful narratives and not just a simple term that refers to an “untrue story.” We examine myths by focusing on a few specific moments of interaction between the Latine peoples who have come to make California home and the specific places in which they have interacted with each other. Of special interest are select creation stories (found in Jewish, Christian, and Indigenous traditions), imaginations of the Spanish missions, the Gold Rush, agricultural California, wilderness California, California as part of Greater México, California as “sprawling, multicultural dystopia,” and California as “west of the west,” including its imagination as a technological and spiritual “frontier.”
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 15
Class#: 3220
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: this course will be mostly discussion oriented, with grading based upon participation, short writing exercises, one 3-page review essay with mandatory revision, one 5- to 8-page midterm review essay, and a final 10- to 15-page comparative review essay
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Latina/o Studies concentrators, Religion majors, American Studies majors, Environmental Studies majors and concentrators, Comparative Literature majors
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
LATS 318 Division II AMST 318 Division II REL 318 Division II
WS Notes: The students are expected to engage in regular writing of response papers, a mandatory revision of their first essay after receiving instructor feedback, a second essay, and a scaffolded final project with instructor and peer feedback at different stages. Attention to writing and the ways that writing interacts with myths, peoples, and place-making is part of the practice and the theoretical orientation of the course.
Attributes: AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora
AMST Space and Place Electives
ENVI Humanities, Arts + Social Science Electives
LATS Core Electives

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