Border Literature and Theory utpb the University of Texas –Permian Basin

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Border Literature and Theory


The University of Texas –Permian Basin

English 6333.701 – Spring 2018

Dr. Jason Lagapa

Office: MB 4110

Office Hours: M & W: 2:00-3:30; TH: 2:30-3:30

Office Phone:

This course is a Web Course and is conducted within Canvas at

NOTE: The due dates and times for the activities will adhere to the Central Time Zone.

Course Description:
Border theory can be defined as a critical practice that examines how geographic and spatial borders and boundaries shape human existence, knowledge and experience. Beyond geographical and spatial concerns, border theory often investigates and questions the nature of power—or the inequity of power and domination—between cultural and ethnic groups in border regions. Such investigations into power relations explains, in part, the prominence of border theory in literary studies: because borders and boundaries inherently raise ideas about order, thresholds, balance and limits—not to mention transgression, inequity and disorder—the purview of border theory is social existence itself. The subject of border theory is indeed complex and vast; in such border spaces, linguistic, cultural, political, national, and ethnic issues all determine, and are determined by, border areas and relations. In addition to border theory, we will read literature that represents border conditions and existence as well as the politics of immigration and the crossing of borders. Our focus in this course, moreover, will be primarily centered upon the geographic border between Mexico and the United States, but we will also turn to other borders, geographic as well as symbolic, in other parts of the nation as well.
Prerequisites: admission to the graduate program in English
Measurable Learning Outcomes:

English M.A. Program Goals

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Recognize and understand key concepts of border theory

  • Compose an essay that analyzes literary texts while using elements of border theory


Students will write two papers 10-12 pages in length that will be graded in terms of content, analytical skill, and knowledge of literary period and cultural context. Students will also be responsible for leading a class discussion or developing a study guide for discussions.

Required Texts

Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands / La Frontera. 2nd Ed. SF: Aunt Lute Books, 2012. ISBN: 978-187996085

Cisneros, Sandra. Woman Hollering Creek and other Stories. NY: Vintage, 1992. ISBN: 78-0679738565

Howe, Susan. Singularities. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 1990. ISBN: 978-0819511942

Kushner, Rachel. The Flame Throwers. NY: Scribner, 2014. ISBN: 978-143914201

McCarthy, Cormac. No Country for Old Men. NY: Vintage, 2007. ISBN: 978-0307387134

Whitehead, Colson. The Underground Railroad. NY: Doubleday, 2016. ISBN: 978-0385542364

Important Academic Dates

UTPB Academic Calendar:

Course Overview
Readings: read novels, poems, etc. as assigned

Assignments: two essays (with research), 10-12 pages in length each

Discussion Topics: participation in discussion board

Presentations: introduction to a reading (each student will be assigned one presentation).

Unless otherwise stated, all materials, activities, and assessments are required and are not optional.

Grading Policy:
The breakdown of the semester grade is as follows:
Essay 1: 40%

Essay 2: 40%

Presentation 10%

Class participation: 10%

Grading Scale:
Grade Range Letter Grade
90 and above A

80 to 89 B

70 to 79 C

60 to 69 D

59 and below F
Communication, Grading, and Feedback

If you need to contact me, the best way is through e-mail to my main e-mail address at or you can use the e-mail function on Canvas for our course. I will respond to e-mails within 24-48 hrs, Monday through Thursday; e-mail messages received Friday through Sunday will be answered on Monday. Assessments of assignments will take place within 7-10 days.

If I need to contact you or send any important announcements, I will do so via e-mail or the announcement function.
I will also contribute periodically to the discussions and to the presentations.
If a students needs technical help with difficulties in their online course, they would contact Canvas 24 hour technical support from the Help & Resources button in the Canvas navigation, or call 1-866-437-0867. This phone number is also already listed in the student support services table in the syllabus.
Time Management Plan

Students should be prepared to complete the readings for each week, conduct research in preparation for their papers, participate in the discussion board, and write essays as assigned. An estimate of 12 hours each week should be devoted these tasks.


The Discussion Board is an arena for us to discuss the texts we have read and to respond to the presentations made by students in the class. For this class, I would like to simulate the feel of a graduate seminar as much as possible. To do so, I’ll ask you to respond to the presentations made to the class on the designated days and to respond to each other as the discussions on the board grow.

The discussion board should follow the questions that are part of the presentation.

Some additional guidelines:

  1. Discussion Board: Discussion Board is primarily for discussing course related topics and issues.
    Best practices are:

    1. Read all message postings in online discussion.

    2. Respond to the question directly

    3. Reply to minimum of two other student posts.

    4. Use a person's name in the body of your message when you reply to their message.

    5. Avoid postings that are limited to 'I agree' or 'great idea', etc.

    6. Ensure responses to questions are meaningful, reflective.

    7. Support statements with concepts from course readings, refer to personal experience, examples.

    8. Follow Rules of Behavior.

  2. Rules of Behavior: Discussion areas are public to every student in this class (including your instructor) who will see what you write. Please pay attention to the language you use and adhere to the following guidelines:

    1. Do not post anything too personal.

    2. Do not use language that is inappropriate for a classroom setting or prejudicial in regard to gender, race, or ethnicity.

    3. Do not use all caps in the message box unless you are emphasizing (it is considered shouting).

    4. Be courteous and respectful to other people on the list

    5. Do not overuse acronyms like you would use in text messaging. Some of the list participants may not be familiar with acronyms.

    6. Use line breaks and paragraphs in long responses.

    7. Write your full name at the end of the posting.

Be careful with sarcasm and subtle humor; one person's joke is another person's insult.
Policy for Late Papers:
Papers are due in class on the date indicated by the syllabus. Any papers turned in after the scheduled class period will be considered late and will be dropped one ½ grade and subsequently one letter grade for each calendar day after the due date.
Plagiarism and Scholastic Dishonesty:
Academic integrity is expected of every individual in the University. Plagiarism and cheating are not tolerated. Plagiarism is using words or ideas in a paper that are not your own and failing to designate them as coming from another source besides yourself. This includes essays that are not written by you and also quotations and passages excerpted from other texts that are used in your essay and are not properly cited or documented. Plagiarism will result in a failure for the assignment and may result in failure of the course and expulsion from the university. If you have any questions about plagiarism, please see me. Also, please refer to the following website for further information, a detailed definition of cheating and the university policy on scholastic dishonesty.
Paper Format:
All papers should be typed, double-spaced, with one-inch margins on all sides. Please use a relatively standard font, like Times New Roman, and a font size of 11 or 12. There is no penalty for going over the page requirement.

Policy for Late Papers:
Papers are due in class on the date indicated by the syllabus. Any papers turned in after the scheduled class period will be considered late and will be dropped one ½ grade and subsequently one letter grade for each calendar day after the due date.
Attendance Policy:

Regular and active participation is an essential, unmistakably important aspect of this online course. Students will log on a minimum of three times every seven days. All students are expected to do the work assigned, notify the instructor when emergencies arise.

Tracking: The learning management systems have a tracking features. Statistics are collected that quantifies how often and when students are active in the course and provides information if the student has accessed different pages of the course.

Absenteeism: All the course activities have set dates to be completed and submitted. After the due dates the activities will not be available for the students. Not logging into an online course is considered absenteeism. Contact instructor immediately in case of emergency medical situation.

Course Incomplete/Withdrawal/Grade Appeal:
All students are required to complete the course within the semester they are signed up. Incomplete grades for the course are rarely given, will only be granted if the student provides a valid, documented excuse for not being able to complete the course on time, and has contacted the instructor prior to the scheduled last class to request an extension. The student signs a contract that includes the incomplete course activities and the new due dates.

Find information and dates regarding drops and withdrawals at

For grade appeal process go to

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities: Americans with Disabilities Act: Students with disabilities that are admitted to The University of Texas of the Permian Basin may request reasonable accommodations and classroom modifications as addressed under Section 504/ADA regulations. The definition of a disability for purposes of ADA is that she or he (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantively limits a major life activity, (2) has a record of such an impairment or, (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.

Students who have provided all documentation and are eligible for services will be advised of their rights regarding academic accommodations and responsibilities. The University is not obligated to pay for diagnosis or evaluations nor is it obligated to pay for personal services or auxiliary aids. Students needing assistance because of a disability must contact Testing Services & Academic Accommodations Department, 432-552-2630, Leticia Madrid,, no later than 30 days prior to the start of the semester.

Information about the accessibility of course tools can be found here:

Computer Skills, Technical & Software Requirements

Students need to have access to Adobe PDF Reader and Microsoft Word. Students are expected to have a basic proficiency in word processing, saving documents, attaching files to e-mail, and using discussion boards. Students will also need access to a camera in order to provide identity authentication.

Students can use cloud version of Word, PowerPoint and other Microsoft products through use of their UTPB Outlook 365 and UTPB email address. For more information refer to Student Services below or visit:

Students can get a free Adobe Reader from the Adobe website,
A note on privacy concerns when using software programs can be found here:
For doing research on J-Stor and Project muse:

Go to the UTPB library homepage and access the link for research databases. 

Once you scroll down the page to the J-Stor or Project Muse link and click on it, you will be sent to a page that asks for your user name and your password. The password and username is the same that you use to access Canvas or your UTPB e-mail. 

Once you are in J-Stor or Project Muse, you can look for articles based on the author you are interested in, a specific text, or on a subject, keyword or theme.
Computer Technical Requirements: Information at

Online Student Authentication

UTPB requires that each student who registers for a distance course is the same student who participates in, completes, and receives credit for the course. UTPB’s Distance Education Policy requires faculty members to employ at least two methods of verification to ensure student identities. To access online courses students must login to the UTPB learning management system using their unique personal identifying username and secure password. UTPB’s Distance Education Policy requires at least one additional student identification method within the course that has been determined and approved by the faculty or academic program. This process will be: Presentation of approved photo ID* as part of an online submission assignment.

Approved photo identifications are: passports, government issued identification, driver’s licenses, military ID from DoD. Dual credit and early college high school students use school district identifications.

Preparation for Emergencies

Computer Crash: Not having a working computer or a crashed computer during the semester will NOT be considered as an acceptable reason for not completing course activities at a scheduled time. NOTE: Identify a second computer before the semester begins, that you can use when/if your personal computer crashes.
Complete Loss of Contact: If you lose contact with course connectivity completely (i.e. you cannot contact me via Canvas or email), you need to call instructor, and leave message regarding connectivity loss and contact information.
Lost/Corrupt/Missing Files: You must keep/save a copy of every project/assignment on an external drive, UTPB Outlook 365 OneDrive, or personal computer. In the event of any kind of failure (e.g. virus infection, student’s own computer crashes, loss of files in cyberspace, etc) or any contradictions/problems, you may be required to resubmit the files.

End-of-Course Evaluation & Instructor Evaluation

Every student is encouraged to complete an end-of-course evaluation/survey provided by UTPB. During the last few weeks of class, you will receive an announcement through email notifying you that the Course/Instructor Survey is available. You may follow the link in the email to complete the survey using the same credentials to access your courses here. When entering the emailed Survey link you will see a list of surveys for you to complete. Another way to find End-of-Course Evaluations is through your account > My Surveys & Evaluations are on the first page after you login.
The survey is anonymous and your responses are confidential. Your feedback is critical to us and to your instructor as we strive to improve our offerings, and our support of you, the students.

Student Support Services



ADA Accommodation/Support

Testing Services & Academic Accommodations Department
(432) 552-2630


UTPB E-Advisor at


(432) 552-0220

Email, Outlook 365,

Information Resources Service

Financial Aid and Scholarship

(432) 552-2620


(432) 552-2370
The J. Conrad Dunagan Library Online at


(432) 552-2635

Student Services

Technical Support

Canvas 1-866-437-0867

Tutoring & Learning Resources

If you are taking courses through UTPB the following links provide services: Smarthinking Online Tutoring (provides tutoring services), SmarterMeasure (measures learner readiness for online course).

Disclaimer & Rights

Information contained in this syllabus was to the best knowledge of the instructor considered correct and complete when distributed for use in the beginning of the semester. However, the instructor reserves the right, acting within the policies and procedures of UTPB to make changes in the course content or instructional techniques without notice or obligation. The students will be informed about the changes, if any.

Copyright Statement

Many of the materials that are posted within UTPB courses are protected by copyright law. These materials are only for the use of students enrolled in the course and only for the purpose of the course. They may not be further retained or disseminated.
Schedule of class assignments and readings:
Please note assignments and readings may be subject to change; any changes will be announced during class.

Module 1

Week 1 - Introduction


1/8 – 1/10

Week 2 – Introduction to Border Theory

Read: Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands / La Frontera [24-45]

1/16 – 19 Discussion Board

Week 3 – Cisneros, el Otro Lado, and Border Theory

Read: Sandra Cisneros, My Lucy Friend Who Smells like Corn [1-23 – all stories in this section]

“Woman Hollering Creek” [43-56]; Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands / La Frontera [99-120]
1/22 – 25 Discussion Board

Week 4 – Cartel Drug Trafficking, U.S. Complicity, and Border Crossings

Read: Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men [3-148]

1/29 – 2/1 Discussion Board

Week 5– Cartel Drug Trafficking, U.S. Complicity, and Border Crossings

Read: Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men [148-309]

2/5 – 2/8 Discussion Board

Module 2

Week 6 – Cisneros, Defining Ethnic Identity, and Border Theory

Read: Sandra Cisneros, “Never Marry a Mexican”; “Bien Pretty” [68-83; 137-165]

Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands / La Frontera [47-60]
2/12 – 2/15 Discussion Board

Week 7_- Essays on Border Theory

Read: Essays from Project Muse [TBA]

2/19 – 2/22 Discussion Board

Week 8 – First Essay

M 2/26 First Essay Due

Week 9 – Howe, American Wilderness, and Border Theory

Read Susan Howe, Singularities

Download and read Jenny White’s “The Landscapes of Susan Howe’s “Thorow” from J-Stor
3/5 – 3/8 Discussion Board

Week 10

No Class – Spring Break

Module 3

Week 11 – Kushner, the U.S. Southwest and European Borders

Read Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers (1-190)

3/19 – 3/22 Discussion Board

Week 12 – Kushner, the U.S. Southwest and European Borders

Read Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers (190-383)

3/26 – 3/29 Discussion Board

Week 13 – Whitehead, State Borders, and Heading North

Read Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad [1-160]

4/2 – 4/5 Discussion Board

Week 14 – Whitehead, State Borders, and Heading North

Read Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad [161-320]
4/9 – 4/12 Discussion Board

Week 15 – Essays on Boder Theory

Read articles from Project Muse [to be announced]

4/16 – 4/19 Discussion Board

Week 16 – Second Essay Due

4/23 Second Essay Due

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