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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Cuauhtemoc T. Mexica
C LIT 240
Seattle Campus

Writing in Comparative Literature

Comparative approach to literature and a workshop in writing comparative papers in English. Emphasis on cross-cultural comparison of literary works. Readings in English with an option to read selected texts in the original languages Offered: AWSp.

Class description

Borders and borderlands are fundamentally ambivalent, riddled by deep contradictions and divisions. The focus of hopes as well as fears, they give rise to utopian dreams of transgression, reconciliation, and escape from monolithic concepts of culture and identity, on the one hand; on the other, they are the sites of violence, separation, hatred, and death (the border as wound, scar, and wasteland). For example, mainstream U.S. literature on globalization and borderlands tends to emphasize the utopian potential, while eulogizing borders as the vanishing point of national essentialisms and absolutist identities. As a result, border metaphors have proliferated, celebrating borders and borderlands as sites of liminal, in-between spaces, exchanges and interactions across all kinds of differences and divisions (geographic, cultural, psychical, sexual, etc.) Against these abstract border discourses, this course is dedicated to reaffirming the materiality of the border, by focusing on one specific border site, the U.S.-Mexican border.

This is an introductory writing course that will teach you strategies for doing close readings of literary texts and for writing about them. Our readings will focus on the concept of the frontier or border, and specifically of the U.S.-Mexican border, as a determining factor in American culture, through a close reading and written analysis of borderland narratives, film, and cross-cultural encounters.

Student learning goals

Use literary and cinematic models as cultural references, either to communicate with others or to clarify their own ideas.

Think creatively and innovatively about problems by using literature and film as a broadening of their own experience and practical knowledge.

Make connections between the literary as well as the cinematic work and one’s own life.

Work collaboratively and develop their interpersonal communication skills, while using literature as a focus for discussion and analyses.

Experience close reading, screening, and writing as a meaningful, educational and transformational experience.

Effectively document and evaluate the improved success of their writing, critical thinking, and analytical reasoning skills.

General method of instruction

Socratic Method: Questioning and answering.

Collaborative Learning: Classroom and cohort discussions.

Recommended preparation

You will receive an email with ample notification concerning the readings to be discussed on the first day of instruction. Arrive to every session thoroughly prepared.

Class assignments and grading

The pace and tempo of the course will be intensive and accelerated. In addition, it will require great intellectual risk-taking. To promote collaborative and productive learning, the course will incorporate cohort learning.

Cohort Learning: Through the cohort structure students will participate in active and collaborative learning. Cohorts will be formally established after identifying student interests.

A writing portfolio consisting of a compendium (cumulative writing) and a showcase (revised and edited assignments). A final narrative will provide the student with a culminating opportunity to demonstrate their ability to think critically (develop an argument), reason analytically (make analytical connections), solve problems, as well as to write effectively.

Consistent and improved contribution to cohort and class discussions.

Portfolio: The plurality of your percentage grade. Participation: The remaining percentage as well as other intangibles.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Cuauhtemoc T. Mexica
Date: 03/25/2013