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Part 4: Visualizing the Tropical

22 July, 2019 - 09:15
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Figure 3.6 (a) Woman of Paraguay (b) Woman of the Philippines 

As a final part of this lesson, teachers can call students attention to Spanish, Portuguese, and American Women's rich source of images. Because this module has focused on Guerrero's description of the Cuban landscape and its women, begin with images of Cuban women, such as those featured throughout this module.

How does this image reflect Guerrero's description of Cuba and its women? What features of the setting and landscape are provided in the picture? What do these features tell us about Cuba and Cuban women? What characteristics of race and culture are expressed here? What type of clothing and colors are these women wearing? Not all of these pictures are set within Cuba's physical landscape, so what differences do you see in the different Cuban women and Cuban settings as they are depicted in these images? Next, teachers can move on to some of the other images in Spanish, Portuguese, and American Women. Compare and contrast how women of different nations are portrayed. For instance, see the two images above.

Calling on students to explore setting alongside themes of race and gender can help develop skills of literary and historical analysis, and urge students to look for these themes outside the basic plot and character formations. Considering how tropical landscapes are gendered and racialized can reveal how different authors map the hemisphere through tools of setting, climate, and environment.

Study Questions:

  1. What details of setting should you look for when reading a historical text or book?
  2. What features of Cuba's landscape does Guerrero highlight?
  3. Pick out 5 key phrases (23 words) that Guerrero uses to describe Cuba's landscape, then provide a one sentence analysis of the type of language he uses.
  4. How do race and gender emerge as a refection of the Cuba's landscape? How would you characterize this relationship?
  5. Group Activity: Take one chapter/location from Spanish, Portuguese, and American Women (Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Ecuador, etc.), and analyze the first five pages. Use the following questions to get started: What language does the author use to describe this place and its inhabitants? Does his language reflect his assessment of the people themselves? What conclusions does this author draw? In your opinion, what is important to him?