English C136

Topics in American Studies: The Literature and History of Mexican American Farm Workers

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2009 Gonzalez, Marcial
Gonzalez, Marcial
TTh 12:30-2 160 Dwinelle

Other Readings and Media

(Literature) Rose Castillo Guilbault, Farmworker’s Daughter: Growing Up Mexican in America; Elva Treviño Hart, Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Girl; Cherríe Moraga, Watsonville: Some Place Not Here; Tomás Rivera, The Complete Works; Simón Silva, Small-Town Browny: Cosecha de la Vida; Gary Soto, Jesse; Helena María Viramontes, Under the Feet of Jesus. (History) Ernesto Galarza, Spiders in the House and Workers in the Field; Gilbert G. González, Mexican Consuls and Labor Organizing: Imperial Politics in the American Southwest; Randy Shaw, Beyond the Fields: the UFW, and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century; Devra Weber, Dark Sweat, White Gold: California Farm Workers, Cotton and the New Deal.

(Note: The reading list for the course may change slightly by the start of the fall semester so please wait until after the first class meeting to purchase your books, or send an email to the instructor in August to request an updated reading list.)


In this course we will study the social movements, political aspirations and cultural expressions of Mexican farm workers in the U.S. during the twentieth century, focusing on the period from 1930-1980. The methodological approach will be interdisciplinary as our reading list will include both history and literature. We will also watch some films and examine photographic essays. The social movements of Mexican farm workers in the U.S. hold a symbolically significant place in Chicano history and literature. We will strive to understand these movements not as romanticized stories of the downtrodden, but as narratives of class conflict and strategic class positioning in both local and global settings. The history of Mexican farm worker struggles in the U.S. links the formation of Chicano and Chicana subjectivity to the profit needs of transnational agricultural corporations, immigration law, state repression, racialization, and class power—in short, to the building of empire and global capitalism. The works studied in this course document or dramatize these links from various perspectives. The amount of reading will be substantial. Required assignments will include a paper, a midterm, a class presentation, and a final.

This course is cross-listed with American Studies C111E, Section 1.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

Back to Semester List