Fall 2015

Latino Pop Culture

Listed in: Anthropology and Sociology, as SOCI-235  |  Spanish, as SPAN-235


Frederick L. Aldama (Section 01)


(Offered as SPAN 235 and SOCI 235.)  This course will explore how pop cultural phenomena by and about Latinos creatively texture four decades of social and historical change that inform the U.S. Latino experience: from TV shows, films, performance art, food, music, comic books, web and digital media.  We will read, view, hear, and smell—critically consume—all variety of popular cultural phenomena as it interfaces with everyday lives, unique traditions, and representations of the very varied ethnic make-up of Latinos residing in the U.S.  We will contextualize and assess key critical interpretations, perspectives, development and debates in Latino popular cultural studies. We will also consider the importance of historical period and region in the making and consuming of Latino culture, specific techniques used in giving shape to the respective pop cultural forms, and offer accessible content analysis. Core themes and topics that will be addressed include: Industry vs. art, globalization, representation, identity, reception and production. Through our shared inquiry we will sharpen our critical thinking about the challenges and the prospects reflected by Latino popular culture. The course will cover ongoing theories, discussions and debates. We will also learn to examine Latino pop culture within the broader perspectives of the study of global popular culture. We will learn a variety of approaches and methods for studying a vast array of Latino pop cultural artifacts, and we will develop our own approach and method in response to the primary materials critically consumed.  In acquiring the tools for analyzing popular culture by and about Latinos students we will learn of the social, historical, and cultural significance of Latinos in the U.S. Among materials covered will be episodes of TV shows such as LA Ink, Cristela, and Jane the Virgin. We will likely view films such as Cheech Marin’s Born in East L.A. (1987), Allison Anders’ Mi Vida Loca (1993), Darnelle Martin’s I Like It Like That (1994), Gregory Nava’s Mi Familia (1995), Karyn Kusama’s Girlfight (2000), Patricia Cardoso’s Real Women Have Curves (2002), Sergio Arau’s A Day Without a Mexican (2004), Robert Rodriguez’s Machete (2010), and Aurora Guerrero’s Mosquita y Mari (2012). We will likely read comics by Los Bros Hernandez, Rhode Montijo, and Jules Rivera. We will likely view performances by La Pocha Nostra, Culture Clash, and Carmelita Tropicana.  We will likely listen to music by Ozomotl and Nortec. Among the secondary readings will be chapters from Aldama’s Latinos and Narrative Media: Participation and Portrayal, Your Brain on Latino Comics, and The Cinema of Robert Rodriguez. We will read sections from Aldama’s and Stavans’s ¡Muy Pop! Conversations on Latino Popular Culture. Finally, we will read sections form Gustavo Arellano’s Taco Nation.  Conducted in English.

Fall semester. Professor Aldama.

SPAN 235 - L/D

Section 01
Tu 02:30 PM - 03:50 PM BARR 102
Th 02:30 PM - 03:50 PM BARR 102

This is preliminary information about books for this course. Please contact your instructor or the Academic Coordinator for the department, before attempting to purchase these books.

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
The Dirty Girls Social Club: A Novel St. Martin's Paperbacks; 1st edition Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015