Chicana/o and Latina/o Representation in Cinema


Title / Título (Original)

Chicana/o and Latina/o Representation in Cinema

Description / Descripción

"This course examines the unique status of race in the history of American cinematography. Film, like most art forms, inevitably involves meditations on personal and national identity. American film is particularly distinguished for its racialized construction of America and Americans. While cinematic discourses on race are controversial—especially the more overtly racist views in early twentieth-century film—these discourses on race also are complex and change dramatically over time.

This course is designed so that students will come to realize the importance of analyzing films as texts that illuminate deeply held beliefs around race, class, ethnicity, gender and national origin. It examines the enduring stereotypes of Latinas/os that appear in mainstream media productions, (primarily film focused on Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans). We will also explore attempts by Latina/o filmmakers to subvert these images and present more complex characters and a multi-focal understanding of Chicano/Latino history, experience and culture. Chicano/Latino film will be studied as a form of cultural representation and insider communication. Students will learn the basics of film theory and criticism, an overview of cinematic history, and the socio-historical context for analyzing each film so that they can better understand the politics of representation. As they learn to interpret for meaning, students will begin to see media production as a means of socialization rather than just as an art or entertainment form. We will also discuss the role of film as a political tool in social movements. Students will learn how to evaluate and interpret moving images, visual symbols, and the narrative of cinema as an art form, but also as a means of (re)constructing and maintaining an ethnic identity. This will include discussion of the burden of representation that is placed on Latina/o filmmakers, screenwriters, and actors."

Cinematic Period / Periodo cinematográfico

Films taught / Películas

Martyrs of the Alamo
The Alamo
Salt of the Earth
Piece of the American Dream
Senorita Extraviada
Requie 29
Los Vendidos
Zoot Suit
La Bamba
The Lemon Grove Incident
Hero Street USA
Siempre Palante
The Young Lords
Real Women Have Curves
How Else Will I Know if I am Alive
The Garden of Eden
American Me
Blood in, Blood out
Mi Vida Loca
El Norte
Mi Familia
I like it that
Stand and Deliver
Born in East LA
A Day Without a Mexican
Culture Clash
Corpus: A Home Movie
The Pérez Family
Come and Take it Day
Dirty Laundry
Pretty Vacant

Creator / Creador(a)

Louis Mendoza, Arizona State University



“Chicana/o and Latina/o Representation in Cinema,” Cinegogía, accessed March 1, 2024,