Topic outline

  • Evaluation of the course


    Your grade will depend on:

    1.      Active participation in class. (20 %)

    2.      A presentation (30 %)

    3.      The final exam (50 %)

    Let us take a closer look:


    1. Active participation in class

    Please come to class, do your homework, and participate. You can skip two classes for personal reasons, but you will probably be better prepared for the exam if you attend all the classes. As always, the absences that are due to a medical reason do not count (please get a medical leave if that’s your case). The more you participate, the more we will all make of the course!


    2. The presentation

    You have to speak for about 8-10 minutes about your own country. You can also do this presentation in a group if you want as long as every member of the group gets to speak their allotted time.


    The content of the presentation:

    Pick three of the following topics. If you think of a better topic, I am open to your suggestions, but it can be a good idea to check with me first. You should start your presentation by briefly sketching out the selected topics. 

    1.      Language: compare your mother tongue(s) to Spanish. Be thorough.

    2.      What is your culture’s oral/written/musical/artistic tradition like? How does it reflect the nature of your people? What social stereotypes are associated to the different cultural phenomena? What differences or similarities can you draw when comparing your findings to the cultural traditions in the Spanish-speaking countries?

    3.      How has religion affected your culture and your worldview? Can religion be seen in some aspects of your country’s everyday life, in other words, in some facets that are not connected to the worship, rituals, or religious institutions? Compare your country’s religion to either Catholicism or to different denominations of Christianity. If you want to dig a bit deeper, you might want to draw some parallels with either liberation theology or prosperity theology.  

    4.      How has the national sentiment been formed in your country? Was the origin story of that national sentiment agreed on collectively or made by a specific social group? What attempts to have every fellow national identify with that story have been made and how have such attempts worked out? What differences and similarities with the Spanish-speaking countries can be found?

    5.      Who owns your country? Does it belong to its citizens in general as members of a nation or is that more of a slogan than it is a reality? How did that come to be the result? Please note “owning” a country can be understood as who owns more private property but also as who has the power to make the decisions and be heard.

    6.      What symbols are important in your culture/country? Do those symbols call out to all segments of the population or just to a fraction? What kind of values are associated to those symbols? What parallels can you draw to the Spanish-speaking countries?

    7.      What set of values or cultural traits are considered to be important in your culture/country? How did your culture/country end up with that particular set? How compatible would these values be with the one’s described in the essay?

    8.      What is your culture’s/country’s gastronomy like? What would a Spanish speaker think of your dishes? What would a fellow national of yours think of the different gastronomic traditions in the Spanish-speaking countries? Please, try to avoid clichés as much as you can.

    9.      What is the role of your country in the global economy? Has it traditionally been a victim or a beneficiary of the colonial exploitation? What effects of the past developments can be seen today? What differences or similarities can you draw in relation to the Spanish-speaking countries?

    10.  What do you think about the media or the top Internet influencers in your country? Do they offer some interesting or quality entertainment? What do you think of the media’s editorial lines broadly speaking? Is there an editorial line in the entertainment contents?

    When you approach your three topics, try to compare your findings with what you know about the Spanish-speaking countries. Your presentation should be based on a balanced mix of three things.

    1.      Sources of your own about your culture/country. Real sources please.

    2.      Information about the Spanish-speaking countries both from the MyCourses materials and from our discussions in class. Being able to use in your presentation what we learn in the course is always highly valuated.

    3.      A mature reflection of your own.

    Do not stress over the presentation. You do not need to be an expert, but I will really appreciate any efforts to both stay away from clichés and analyze the topics in some depth.


    The format of the presentation:

    I am not going to evaluate your use of English because this is not a language course, and it is not my mother tongue anyway. Instead, your focus should be in having people understand what you say. Some people might not be familiar with your culture and feel a bit lost, so you should be able to both speak clearly and avoid taking anything for granted.

    Since your mission is to have people understand, it is up to you whether you use some visual aid or not. PowerPoint presentations can be very useful as long as you do not read them, and I feel I cannot stress this enough: Life is too short to attend a lecture where the lecturer reads the slides. Really. Instead, you should focus on your audience and make eye contact to make sure they are following.

    At the end of your presentation, your peers will ask you some questions as an opportunity for you both to earn some extra points.


    3. The final exam:

    We will have a final exam during our last class as can be seen in our class journal Diario de clases in MyCourses. The questions will be about our course materials, the book Open veins of Latin America, and our discussions in class. They will require you to be familiar with these materials as much as to reflect on what you have learnt.