This Course at MIT

This Course at MIT pages provide context for how the course materials published on OCW were used at MIT. They are part of the OCW Educator initiative, which seeks to enhance the value of OCW for educators.

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 21F.730 Hispanic America: One Hundred Years of Literature and Film as it was taught by Prof. Elizabeth Garrels in Spring 2014.

This course explores artistic achievement in a culture that over the past century has engaged in constant and intense imaginative self-renewal. Students study film, narrative, and poetry, including works by Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Horacio Quiroga, and Pablo Neruda, among many others.The course is conducted in Spanish.

Course Outcomes

  • To gain a more nuanced perspective on Hispanic American culture and history.
  • To experience the rich diversity of Hispanic America by studying materials created by both women and men from different countries and cultural regions in the Americas.
  • To develop critical and imaginative thinking.
  • To improve reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills in Spanish.
  • To improve analytical strategies for interpreting and discussing fictional prose, poetry, and film.

Curriculum Information

Prerequisites

One intermediate subject in Spanish or permission from the instructor. Intermediate subjects include:

Requirements Satisfied

Offered

The course was typically offered every other spring and was taught by Prof. Garrels.

 

Assessment

The students' grades were based on the following activities:

The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by exams. 35 % Oral class participation (quantity and quality), and attendance
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by concert reports. 20% Two student presentations
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by an analytical paper assignment. 45% Five short essays
 

Instructor Insights on Assessment

The above percentages are approximate and are provided so that students can keep track of their progress. However, I also value demonstrated improvement in the quality of participation and interpretative and expository skills in written exercises. If I see a clear demonstration of improvement in these areas, I may consider enhancing the result of the numerical calculation based on percentages. My most important objective for students is that they improve their interpretative and expository skills as a result of their sustained hard work throughout the semester.

Student Information

On average, 10 students take this course each time it is offered.

Students in the class were from diverse majors throughout the Institute. 

Of the 10 students in the class, one was a freshmen, two were sophomores, five, were juniors, and 2 were seniors. No graduate students enrolled in the class. 

 

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In Class

3 hours per week
  • Met two times per week for 1.5 hours per session; 26 sessions total.
  • Class time was spent discussing and critiquing a variety of texts, poems, and films.
  • Student presentations on the assignments were held during five sessions throughout the semester.
 

Out of Class

9 hours per week

    Students spent most of their time outside of class reading literature and poems and watching films. In addition, the students worked on five papers, and two projects; one individually and one with a group.  

 

Semester Breakdown

WEEK M T W Th F
1 No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
2 Class session. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
3 No classes throughout MIT. Class session; assignment due date. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
4 Student presentations. No session scheduled. Student presentations. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
5 Class session. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
6 Student presentations. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
7 Class session; assignment due date. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
8 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
9 Student presentations. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
10 Student presentations. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled; assignment due date.
11 Class session. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
12 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
13 Class session. No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due date. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
14 Class session. No session scheduled. Class session. No session scheduled. No session scheduled.
15 Class session. No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due date. No session scheduled. No classes throughout MIT.
16 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
Displays the color and pattern used on the preceding table to indicate dates when classes are not held at MIT. No classes throughout MIT
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when class sessions are held. Class session
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when assignments are due. Assignment due date
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when no class session is scheduled. No class session scheduled
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when student presentations are held. Student Presentations
 

Instructor Insights

My teaching career spanned more than 35 years. I found that the mistakes 18 year-olds made in the realms of content, style, and grammar were the same year after year. So rather than writing down all my comments when I gave students feedback on their work, I created correction guides.

—Prof. Elizabeth Garrels

Prof. Garrels retired in 2014 after 35 years at MIT. This course was the last she taught on campus. Read a profile about Prof. Garrels.

Below, Prof. Elizabeth Garrels describes various aspects of how she taught 21F.730 Hispanic America: One Hundred Years of Literature and Film.

Keeping Courses Fresh

I worked hard to ensure that courses did not get worn and tired. The Internet revolutionized itself over the course of my career, and I spent a lot of time searching the web for course materials. I found incredible things, such as wonderful comic strips published in newspapers in Latin American based on famous stories. In some cases the comic strips were published during a dictatorial regime, and they took on a new significance. I integrated the comic strips with the stories we were reading in class. Students gave reports on both the comic strips and the stories. And of course, students were much more savvy than I was about the comic strips! Other resources I identified included wonderful pages about Chilean writers, among other things, published by the Chilean government. The quality of their materials is so high. Spain also published incredible materials that are no longer covered by copyright that I made use of in my teaching.

Teaching a Course on the Cheap

Many of the books I used in my teaching were either unavailable because they were out of print or were recent editions and very expensive because they were imported. In an attempt to keep costs down for students, I turned to the Internet and tried to find as many web-based materials as possible. This created a lot of extra work for me, as an instructor, because the quality of materials on the web is often poor. I had to read through the materials very carefully, identify errata, and supply students with corrections when necessary. I did all this because I felt it was unjust to ask students to spend tremendous amounts of money on course materials. I’ve become an expert in how to teach a course on the cheap!

Although I offered as many web-based materials as possible, I did typically ask students to purchase one or two books for the course. One challenge that emerged was that students would buy different editions of the book to save money. This created a problem because I often asked students to prove what they were saying in class by referring directly to the text. Time was wasted when everyone was on different pages. I attempted to address this challenge by allowing students to use different editions of the texts, but requiring that they reference the page numbers used in the edition I placed on reserve in the library. They didn’t always like this, but it was one solution for a persistent dilemma.

Systematizing Feedback

My teaching career spanned more than 35 years. I found that the mistakes 18 year-olds made in the realms of content, style, and grammar were the same year after year. So rather than writing down all my comments when I gave students feedback on their work, I created correction guides. The guides included a list of common areas for improvement, along with corresponding numbers. This allowed me to use numbers and comments that were specific when I graded papers.