Hispanic Writers in American Literature

Fall 2013
Eng 3365-001

MWF 9:10-10:05


Instructor:      Dr. Maria A. Clayton
                        PH 329 (MTSU Box 70), mail slot on door
                        898-2585 (office); 849-8369 (home); 491-8170 (no calls after 10:00 p.m.)

You may leave a message on my voice mail or answering machine, but you must try to catch me at another time to insure I receive the information. While you may use my MTSU email address, maria.clayton@mtsu.edu,  I prefer that you rely on the D2L email, so we can keep course emails housed within the website. Please note that, as rule, I do not respond to student email over the weekend. I also don't use texting for student communication. 

I invite you to access the About Your Professor segment at http://mtweb.mtsu.edu/mclayton/

Office Hours:   MWF 8:00-9:00 and 10:10-11:30 a.m.; MW 11:30-2:30 p.m.; other times by appointment Be sure to let me know you need to see me so your trip is not wasted.

Please Note: Students with disabilities that may require assistance or who have questions related to any accommodations for testing, note takers, readers, etc., must inform the instructor and provide certification from the Office of Disabled Student Services (898-2783), so arrangements can be made as soon as possible to accommodate their difficulties.

Required Texts and Materials:

ü       del Rio, Eduardo. The Prentice Hall Anthology of Latino Literature. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2002.

ü     Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street. 25th Anniversary edition. New York: Random House, 2009.

ü       Perez Firmat, Gustavo. Next Year in Cuba: Cubano's Coming-of-Age in America. Houston: Arte Publico P, 1995.

ü      Santiago, Esmeralda. When I was Puerto Rican. New York: Random House, 1993.

ü       Internet access--Internet access is required for utilizing our course website through D2L—we will use our D2L website's email for our course communication; this will allow you access to your instructor and classmates as well as keep your academic and personal email separate.  We will have a D2L orientation class day set up in our schedule. You will want to make a habit of checking the course's announcements on a regular basis, two to three times a week, particularly when you are absent.

Students should have all necessary materials with them for each class period.

Suggested Additional Texts:  

ü       Augenbraum, Harold, and Ilan Stavans, eds. Growing Up Latino: Memoirs and Stories. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993.

ü       Ibieta, Gabriella, ed. Thirty Stories. New York: St. Martin's, 1993.

ü       Heyck, Denis Lynn Daly, ed. Barrios and Borderlands: Cultures of Latinos and Latinas in the United States. New York: Routledge, 1994.

ü       Flores, Lauro, ed. The Floating Borderlands: Twenty-Five Years of U.S. Hispanic Literature. Seattle: U of Washington P, 1998.

ü       Foster, David William, ed. Sourcebook of Hispanic Culture in the United States. Chicago: American Library Assn., 1982.

Course Description and Objectives:

This course is designed to acquaint students with representative literary works of Hispanic Americans writing in English. Through readings in fiction, poetry and drama, students in this class will explore the contemporary experience of Hispanic Americans and how it is represented in American literature.

The course will focus on how these works represent not only an intersection between cultures, but also a culture in itself. We will take into account the many types or groups of Hispanic Americans in the United States and examine how issues of sex, race, class, and education have an impact on Latino (a) self-definition and community identity [we will come to some agreement in class as to which term to use for our purposes: Hispanic or Latino/a].

Course objectives include developing students' familiarity with the wide variety of works by Hispanic Americans writing in English, improving critical awareness of and sensitivity to cultural nuance, and introducing students to an aspect of American literature and culture which is too often marginalized and ignored.

Course Requirements:

The course consists of  reading assignments and quizzes, essay writing (in three exams and in one formal essay), and a discussion component (face to face and 'virtual' [DB]).

Reading Assignments and Reading Quizzes:

The readings for the semester are organized around three units of study: 1) Mexican-American, Puerto Rican, and Cuban-American. For each of our units, we will read selections in the genres of literature--fiction, poetry, drama--one novel and four short stories, five poems, and one short drama.

Reading all pieces assigned in the Schedule carefully and annotating them for discussion purposes is required/expected and will serve each of you well in posting your insights into the Unit's discussion boards [DB's], in class discussion, and in the writing of your essays--both, in exam essays and formal essay.

Periodic, unannounced quizzes will be given to insure you are keeping up with the reading--10 points each. Quizzes may not be made up.

Formal Essay:

You will write a 1200-1500 Critical Analysis paper on one of the thematic concerns addressed in the course and how you see it carried through at least three pieces of literature we have read this semester. You will adhere to MLA format and provide copies of a summary for your classmates [we can set up a discussion board on our site so you can share the essays digitally].


You will participate in three Unit Exams, one at the end of each unit of study, which are comprised of essay questions over material from the reading, DB posts, and class discussion. The topics are available to your from day one of the course to help guide your reading. On the day of each Unit Exam, you will be allowed to bring with you your notes and texts, even a RD if you've developed one already; however, the final draft of essay for each exam will be completed in class. 200 points per Exam.


You will receive homework credit for a variety of class participation activities: 1) posting to the Thematic Commentaries DB before the class period for which the piece on which you are posting is assigned (75 points total for semester--see below); 2) quizzes [see Reading Assignments and Reading Quizzes above; up to 100 points]; 3) creating your User Homepage (25 points); participating collaboratively in the MLA Quiz (50 points).

Thematic Commentaries DB will be used as a 'kick start' to our class discussion and to serve as a repository of ideas for all essays you will be writing during the semester--exam and formal. Each of you will be responsible for posting five times in each of the three units for 5 points, 25 points per unit. Whatever piece you post on must be shared prior to the class for which is is assigned; you may not post more than twice on the same piece, even if it fits more than two of the themes listed. Any ideas shared through this 'virtual' discussion or through our face to face discussions are 'fair game' for use in your essay writing . . . and you don't even have to credit us! :)


I maintain an open door policy so students can come to discuss their progress in the course or issues brought up in class. Let me know if you plan to come so I can be sure to be in the office.

Course Policies

Attendance--Class attendance is extremely important to you and your classmates' success in English 3365, particularly since our class is small. Unlike other lecture courses where your class absence affects no one but yourself, English 3365 is structured around your sharing of insights in class. 

Therefore, you are expected to attend all classes.  I will take roll daily, and if you miss more than three of the required classes or do not complete all assignments within the posted time limits, you will fail the course.  Only university sponsored functions (for instance, trips relating to sports, chorus events, livestock judging) are excused.  In such cases, you are responsible for notifying me of the absence well in advance, and you are responsible for getting your work in early--before you have to be absent.  Absences due to illness, death in the family, and the like must be covered by the three allowable absences.  Exceptions will be made to this policy only under extraordinary circumstances, and then, only when students notify me immediately and arrange to satisfy requirements. It is your responsibility  to keep up with all assigned work, either reading or writing.  Being prepared for class is expected, even after any absence.  For backup, look around the room, select two or three reliable looking classmates and exchange phone numbers to use as  support in keeping informed; you can also stay in touch with your classmates through our D2L email.

Tardiness--Two late arrivals or early departures will equal an absence.  If you arrive after I call roll, it is your responsibility to alert me to your attendance. 

Late Work--It is vital that you submit your work on time. Refer to our course schedule. All late assignments must be completed within one week of due date and will suffer late penalties—one letter grade per day late. Work not completed within the one week extended deadline results in course failure.

Grades--To be eligible to pass the course, you must 1) complete your Homepage and other HW assignments; 2) post your insights to the Thematic Commentaries DB prior to class discussion; (3) come to class prepared to make substantial contributions to discussion; 4) participate in the three Unit Exams; 5) prepare your formal essay per the requirements and submit by deadline;  6) meet attendance requirements; 7) complete ALL assignments. Then, your course grade is based on the 10-point scale (A=90-100, B=80-89, etc.) and will be determined as follows:

Homework [Homepage, Thematic Comm, etc.]


 Quizzes [MLA Quiz, Reading Quizzes] 20%

Exams [one per Unit of Study]

Formal Essay 30%
Total 100%

Final grades will not be curved; rounding up will occur only
when mathematically called for; for example, a 79.5 will be
 rounded up to an 80, but not a 79.4.
 Please discuss this with your instructor if it's not clear.

Academic Misconduct

Middle Tennessee State University takes a strong stance against academic misconduct.  Academic Misconduct includes, but is not limited to, plagiarism, cheating, and fabrication.

Academic Misconduct:  Plagiarism, cheating, fabrication, or facilitating any such act.  For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:

(1) Plagiarism:  The adoption or reproduction of ideas, words, statements, images, or works of another person as one’s own without proper attribution. This includes self-plagiarism, which occurs when an author submits material or research from a previous academic exercise to satisfy the requirements of another exercise and uses it without proper citation of its reuse. The most flagrant instances of plagiarism are (1) submitting an essay that is copied from another's writing, (2) having someone dictate what is written (such as having a typist rewrite a paper, substituting his/her language for the student's), and (3) using sources without proper documentation. Often such violations are very easy for writing teachers to spot because we get very familiar with the student's prose style (you should know that writing teachers at MTSU often read the writing completed in each other's classes). To be even more specific:  going online and taking information without proper citations, copying parts of other student’s work, creating information for the purposes of making your paper seem more official, or anything involving taking someone else’s thoughts or ideas without proper attribution is academic misconduct.  If you work together on an assignment when it is not allowed, it is academic misconduct. 


If you have a question about an assignment, please come see me to clarify.

(2) Cheating:  Using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in any academic exercise.  This includes unapproved collaboration, which occurs when a student works with others on an academic exercise without the express permission of the professor.  The term academic exercise includes all forms of work submitted for credit or hours.

 (3) Fabrication:  Unauthorized falsification or invention of any information or citation in an academic exercise.

Additionally, students found to be in violation of MTSU's policy will be reported by your professor to the Dean of Student Affairs. Students should be familiar with the "MTSU Students Rights and Responsibilities" handbook which outlines academic misconduct including plagiarism, cheating, fabricating or facilitating any such act. The Handbook also provides a statement of community standards of civil behavior and code of computer use.

In our course, the first offense will result in a failing grade for the assignment; the second offense will result in a failing grade for the course.

University Writing Center

The University offers tutoring through the University Writing Center to all students.  If you find that you have writing problems that can be best addressed in tutoring sessions, I recommend that you take advantage of this service. Students may get tutoring on their own, without recommendations from teachers.  However, you must sign up for the service.  Tutors do not take walk-in clients; neither do they provide proofreading services.


Keep this syllabus and refer to it often during the semester!!! In essence, this is a contract between us which establishes the guidelines for your successful completion of the course.