W3332 20th Century Hispanic Literature

Jan 2017

Professor Firmat is a very friendly person. This is what will be most salient to you in his class. He is kind, reasonable, engaged with the names and personalities of his students from the start, quick to respond to emails, and generally a really relaxed person. That said, I am still trying to figure out what I got from his class. I do not understand what "kind" of interpretation he was providing of the text, as it seemed kind of unstructured and unspecific. I did not learn a lot about the works we were reading. We just read them and talked about their general context without ever doing any close reading or discussion of the broader contextual implications of the works. Professor Firmat is also a really strange grader. Our final was to design a presentation-essay of the works we read as if we were introducing Latin American Literature to a group of students. This was really kind of directionless and a bit unprofessional in my opinion. Our midterms were in-class short interpretations of texts. I was at first happy with how quickly Gustavo graded the exams, but over time it seemed to me that Gustavo has little interest in what his students actually say, and that he might think they're not smart enough to say anything worth our time or his. Overall I was really excited to take Gustavo's class because of all the great reviews, but I was thoroughly disappointed and I wish I had taken another class. Most days were pretty boring. Gustavo talks a lot. And sometimes, these talks are about irrelevant things; yes, he has a great knowledge of general literature and philosophy from Europe and the Americas, but so do many other professors. Gustavo's flaunting of this knowledge was kind of pointless and did not at all enrich my understanding of the texts we were actually studying. It seemed more like name-dropping. Finally, I don't think my writing nor my reading improved at all in this class. His comments were unhelpful and I never could get a legitimate gauge of what he thought of my ideas or interpretations as he seemed to always have a positive attitude but never really provide any critical or useful feedback. Overall, if you are serious about studying literature and culture and you want to get better at it and work with someone who will work with you, don't take Gustavo's class. If you want to take a fun course about literature and get an okay grade and spend time with a generally nice guy, you might like it. I would finally add that Gustavo kind of seems completely out of touch with many of the political issues presented in the texts. How can we read a work like Paz's "Mexican Masks" and not have a critical discussion of gender? I also think there were times when many students were offended by the texts that Gustavo assigned--not because the texts themselves are bad by their existence, but rather because Gustavo seems to present undying love for each of them, and often both women and students of color in the class were annoyed by his blasé and rhapsodic interpretations. There were many awkward discussions about nativism, mulatto identity, sex and gender, etc., and he seems to never understand how or why they are awkward or uncomfortable. I did not really enjoy my time with Gustavo all that much.

Nov 2001

Though at first seemingly harmless, beware of this professor. While readings are fairly interesting, his assignments are often vague, ill-defined to both the students and himself. Once you figure out what you're supposed to be doing, the class is fine, but often the students (and even the teacher) have little idea. Doesn't explain his grading system very well (at all...) either, and often relies on the students to lead the class. Behind the jovial facade and bushy eyebrows is a stubborn little man who, while he invites constructive criticism, never uses it. Incredibly frustrating.

Apr 2001

Lots of literary analysis and all in Spanish. Fairly good reading knowledge of the language required. The reading material is largely magical realism so if you like that it's great. The novel is really interesting. The people in the class determine the enviroment completely. It's discussion based and there are only about 12 students, so if no one wants to talk that day discussions can be pained. Hernandez isn't a bad prof though. He presents interesting ideas. All in all not a bad class.

Jan 2000

This woman has no problem speaking for the entire hour and fifteen minutes, a lucky coincidence because students in her class are abnormally averse to saying anything themselves. If she ever leaves teaching she might pursue a career as a tailor, given her ample experience of making almost daily alterations to her syllabi, which keeps students off balance but also well stocked with excuses as to why they didn't read the day's assignment.