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PRLS 1001: Introduction to Puerto Rican and LatinX Studies (Ortíz-Minaya): Home


  • Reynaldo Ortiz-Minaya, Ph.D.

WORD Syllabus

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 1848-2021 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 Tuesday, March 16, 2021 and will be due Tuesday, March 23, 2021 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 Tuesday, March 23, 2021 @ beginning of class and on Blackboard.
  • Research Paper: Due Tuesday, May 11, 2021 @ 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%

CUNY Policies

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The Brooklyn College Center for Student Disability Services is back to working in-person on campus, though you can still reach out via email and phone. Please email them at for assistance.

Location: 138 Roosevelt Hall
Phone: 718.951.5538
FAX: 718.951.4442
Department Office Hours:

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  • Tuesday: 9 a.m.–4:45 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 9 a.m.–6:45 p.m.
  • Thursday: 9 a.m.–6:45 p.m.
  • Friday: 9 a.m.–4:45 p.m.

Note: Office hours during summer and winter intersession breaks varies.

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Please provide your professor with your course accommodation form and discuss your specific accommodation with your professor as soon as possible to ensure accommodations are met in a timely fashion.

In order to receive academic accommodations students must first be registered with the Center for Student Disability Services. Students who have a documented disability or who suspect that they might have a disability are invited to set up an appointment with the Director of the Center for Student Disability Services, Ms. Valerie Stewart-Lovell or the Assistant Director, Josephine Patterson or their general email

Center for Student Disability Services (CSDS) Mission:
It is the mission of the Center for Student Disability Services (CSDS) to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to all campus facilities, curricula, and activities. The program’s objective focuses on providing students with reasonable disability-related accommodations and the opportunity to maximize their academic success at Brooklyn College. The goal is to ensure an inclusive environment while maintaining and enhancing the college’s academic excellence by providing students with disabilities the opportunity to achieve their highest possible academic potential.

Academic dishonesty of any type, including cheating and plagiarism, is unacceptable at Brooklyn College. Cheating is any misrepresentation in academic work. Plagiarism is the representation of another person’s work, words, or ideas as your own. Students should consult the Brooklyn College Student Handbook for a fuller, more specific discussion of related academic integrity standards.

Academic dishonesty is punishable by failure of the “…test, examination, term paper or other assignment on which cheating occurred” (Faculty Council, May 18, 1954).

In addition, disciplinary proceedings in cases of academic dishonesty may result in penalties of admonition, warning, censure, disciplinary probation, restitution, suspension, expulsion, complaint to civil authorities, or ejection (Adopted by Policy Council, May 8, 1991).

NOTE: If you have a question about how to cite correctly ask your teacher BEFORE submitting your work.

  • The faculty and administration of Brooklyn College support an environment free from cheating and plagiarism.
  • Each student is responsible for being aware of what constitutes cheating and plagiarism and for avoiding both.
  • View complete text of CUNY Academic Integrity Policy and Brooklyn College procedure for policy implementation.
  • If a faculty member suspects a violation of academic integrity and, upon investigation, confirms that violation, or if the student admits the violation, the faculty member must report the violation.
  • Please read the section entitled “Academic Regulations and Procedures” in the Brooklyn College Undergraduate Bulletin or Graduate Bulletin for a complete listing of academic regulations of the College.

Bereavement Policy:

  • Students who experience the death of a loved one must contact the Division of Student Affairs, 2113 Boylan Hall, if they wish to implement either the Standard Bereavement Procedure or the Leave of Absence Bereavement Procedure. The Division of Student Affairs has the right to request a document that verifies the death (e.g., a funeral program or death notice). Contact Email:
  • Typically, this death involves that of a family member, in parallel to the bereavement policy for faculty and staff. However, it is up to the discretion of the Division of Student Affairs to determine if a death outside of the immediate family warrants implementation of the student bereavement policy.
  •  As an option, and in consultation with the Division of Student Affairs, students may take the Leave of Absence Bereavement after the Standard Bereavement.
  • Reference to the Student Bereavement Policies will be noted on course syllabi.
  • Students requesting a religious accommodation should contact the Division of Student Affairs as well. The chief student affairs officer, or a designee, and the student will engage in an interactive process with the goal of finding an acceptable accommodation.

Bereavement Procedure:

  • Upon approval from the Division of Student Affairs, the student is allowed one week, commencing from the day of notification to the Division of Student Affairs, of excused absence.
  • Should the student feel that he/she needs additional days, these should be discussed with individual course instructors and/or the Division of Student Affairs.
  • The Division of Student Affairs will contact the student’s faculty and academic staff of the student’s courses.
  • Faculty and academic staff will be advised that extensions must be granted to the student for the period of one week of excused absence.
  • Further extensions may be negotiated with the student when he or she returns to campus.
  • Students are encouraged to discuss options with their instructors.

Leave of Absence Bereavement Procedure:

  • Students may be allowed to withdraw from the semester in which the death occurs.
  • The Bereavement Leave of Absence is for one semester only.
  • Students who have opted to take the Bereavement Leave of Absence and have already attended classes for the semester of the leave will be allowed to re-enter the following semester without having to reapply to the college.
  • Students who wish to take the leave of absence prior to the beginning of the semester will be required to reapply for the following semester.
  • Students who are in good academic standing will be given the opportunity to successfully complete the credits for the semester in which they return.
  • Students will consult with the Division of Student Affairs, on a case-by-case basis, as to whether they should withdraw from their courses during this leave of absence or to request incompletes from the faculty member.
  •  Given that there may be a potential impact on financial aid, students who receive financial aid and who take the Bereavement Leave of Absence, upon arrangement with the Division of Student Affairs, will meet with a financial aid adviser prior to taking this option.
  • The New York State Education Law provides that no student shall be expelled or refused admission to an institution of higher education because he or she is unable to attend classes or participate in examinations or study or work requirements on any particular day or days because of religious beliefs.
  • Students who are unable to attend classes on a particular day or days because of religious beliefs will be excused from any examination or study or work requirements.
  • Faculty must make good-faith efforts to provide students absent from class because of religious beliefs equivalent opportunities to make up the work missed; no additional fees may be charged for this consideration.
  • If classes, examinations, or study or work requirements occur on Friday after 4 p.m. or on Saturday, similar or makeup classes, examinations, or study or work requirements will be made available on other days, where possible and practical.
  • The faculty and the administration will not allow any adverse or prejudicial effects to accrue to students availing themselves of this regulation.
  • If students have complaints about the application of this policy, they are entitled to bring action or a proceeding for enforcement of their rights in the Supreme Court of Kings County
Number-letter grade equivalents
Numerical grade Letter Grade
97-100 A+
93-96 A
90-92 A-
87-89 B+
83-86 B
80-82 B-
77-79 C+
73-76 C
70-72 C-
67-69 D+
63-66 D
60-62 D-
Below 60 F


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