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PRLS 1001 Introduction to Puerto Rican and Latino Studies: Home


Professor Reynaldo Ortiz-Minaya

  • Reynaldo Ortiz-Minaya, Ph.D.

Course Information

Official Course Bulletin Description:
Survey and theoretical foundations in Puerto Rican and Latin@ Studies. Case study on Puerto Rico. Pertinent themes in Puerto Rican and Latin@ history, culture, literature, contemporary society, and politics. Impact of the United States? economic policies on Puerto Rico and the causes of Puerto Rican and LatinX migration to New York City and urban centers. Satisfies Pathways Flexible Core US Experience in Its Diversity requirement. 3 hours; 3 credits


This is an inter— and trans-disciplinary course which has two main objectives. The first is to critically introduce students to the theoretical foundations in Puerto Rican and Latinx Studies, both broadly defined. While the course places Puerto Rico as the central focus and as a case study of the class, corresponding spaces within the Spanish Caribbean will also be placed into analysis in order to examine the pertinent and current themes in Puerto Rican and Latinx history, culture, literature, and politics. Specific focus will be placed on the impact of the complex relationship of Puerto Rico with the United States since 1898 related but not limited to the economic, cultural, psychological, and political impacts on the Puerto Rican people both on the island and within the Union. In addition, the investigation will explore the multi-faceted causes of Puerto Rican and Latinx migration to New York City and urban spaces in the U.S.

Within the current world-economy and specifically within the context of the Caribbean basin, the island of Puerto Rico finds itself in a very unique position given its current economic realities and crisis yet, it represents direct U.S. foreign policy within the Spanish Caribbean. For this reason, the class will also critically examine the current situation of Puerto Rico as a way to understand the island’s history pre and post 1898.

However, it is only possible [in 15 weeks] to cover a limited surface/amount of complicated and rich history and multiple research agendas on the complex relationship between Borikén, Latin America, broadly defined, and the United States.

The second goal is to improve your skills in critical reading and writing. You will work on understanding and interpreting the materials throughout the course. Paper assignments and essay exams will provide opportunities to develop your OWN interpretations systematically and polish your writing skills.

After successfully completing this course, you are expected to be able to:

Demonstrate knowledge of race, ethnicity, class, gender, (im)migration, diaspora, national origin, intra- and inter-group dynamics, religion, language, and/or sexuality regarding Latinxs, Caribbeans, and/or Latin Americans, inclusive of Afro-Latinx and indigenous populations.

  1. Identify the inter-/multi-disciplinary foundations and theoretical frameworks in the fields of Puerto Rican and Latinx Studies, Caribbean Studies, and/or Latin American Studies.
  2. Design a plan of action, research project, or creative work focusing on advocacy and leadership involving issues of equity and social justice vis a vis Puerto Rican/Latinx communities, the Caribbean and/or Latin America, inclusive of Afro-Latinx and indigenous populations pertaining thereto.
  3. Apply their knowledge of PRLS in a professional/public setting by participating in internships/working collaboratively with community-based organizations or others to organize and/or participate in activities (e.g. workshops, professional conferences, symposia, study abroad, and/or cultural events/institutions).

Learning Objective #1:

  • Students will understand the Puerto Rican and Latinx migration processes and emerging realities of diasporic communities in the U.S. from the 1848-2016 time period.

Learning Objective #2:

  • Students will demonstrate knowledge of race, ethnicity, class, gender, national origin, religion, language, and/or sexuality with regard to the experiences of populations of Latinx, Caribbean, and/or Latin American descent.

Mid-Term Take Home Essay Exam (30% of Final Grade)

  • You will have to choose 1 out of 3 essay questions for you to answer in complete essay format in 2-3 pages.
  • Exam will be delivered on _____ and will be due_______ at the beginning of class and Online via Blackboard.

Final  Paper (40% of Final grade= 30% paper, 10% annotated bibliography)

  • You will be responsible to write a 7-10 pages RESEARCH PAPER based on the material discussed in the course.
  • Final Paper is to be a critical review of the materials and topics covered in the course. You choose and clear the topic with me beforehand.
  • Annotated Bibliography: Due _____ @ beginning of class and on Blackboard.
  • Research Paper: Due ___ @ beginning of class and on Blackboard.

Your Final Research Paper must be 7-10 pages, and you MUST include a Bibliography and appropriate MLA/APA citations.
You MUST discuss what you have learned in the seminar, how the diverse themes have come together, and new lines of inquiry and research directions you feel are important within the field of Puerto Rican and Latinx Studies.
If you need writing help, the Brooklyn College Learning Center has tutors available on an appointment basis, to assist you.

Attendance/Participation (20% of Final Grade)


Participation grades are based on qualitative assessment of YOUR contribution to class discussions. You are expected to come to class having already read assigned course materials for that week and demonstrate familiarity with assigned readings and critical thinking ability.  You will also have several opportunities to participate in other ways, such as through Blackboard.

I also reserve the right to give any number of pop quizzes throughout the semester. These will be factored into your participation grade. You should have nothing to fear if you come to class prepared on a regular basis.

Film/Documentary Response Papers (10% of Final Grade)
We will have at least 5 documentary/film screenings in which we will examine some of the themes in the class. You are to write a response paper [2-3 pages] to the films shown in a manner that illustrates critical engagement of the material/literature from class discussions, assigned readings, and content of the films. This is not a summary of the films, but rather a serious and critical analysis of the film.

  • Mid-Term Take Home Essay: 30%
  • Final Research Paper: 40%
    • 30% Paper
    • 10% Annotated Bibliography
  • Participation: 20%
  • Film Response Papers: 10%

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