CULANTH 245S: Human Rights in the Americas (or LATAMER 246)


Reader requirements: People who have a connection to Latin America and/or human rights. People who are immigrants or come from immigrant families (ideally Latin American, though this isn’t an absolute requirement); who know about rights issues.


  1. Course Information
  2. Schedule
  3. Giving Feedback

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Robin Kirk

As part of DukeImmerse: Rights & Identities in the Americas: Human Rights, Indigenous Peoples, and Contemporary Challenges, this course introduces students to the concepts, history and practice of human rights through the lens of the Americas, the activists and communities who have developed and promoted rights and the related question of indigenous identity and rights claims. Through the work of scholars, activists, communities and others, we will examine the history of human rights, the development of human rights as a practice and set of legal goals, and the future of human rights as a political, cultural and social force.

Student Writing:

What are students writing? Students will write a personal essay that draws on Latin America; human rights; their own interests, history and identity; and some contemporary issue that draws these elements together. Essays will be 12-15 pages (3,000-3,750 words) in length and can include original photographs.

For whom? Latin Americanists, human rights scholars, teachers and members of the Duke community.

Where would such writing typically be found? Magazines, web sites that feature long-form essays, anthologies.

Why would someone usually read it? Because they have an interest in Latin America, human rights issues, immigration, memoir and good writing.


Schedule (Student – Reader Interactions):

The are the course deadlines, as they pertain to the Duke Reader Project:

FYI – Students will be traveling to Mexico October 4-17 as part of this course.

An introductory meeting (between the student and their reader) should be scheduled by 9/11. This can be a brief interaction where you all tell each other a bit about yourselves.

Students will submit a one-paragraph summary of their essay idea to readers by 9/15. Reader will get feedback on this essay summary back to their student by 9/22 (within one week of receiving it).

Students will submit an essay draft to their readers by 11/11. Reader will get feedback on essay draft to their student by 11/18 (within one week of receiving it).

Link to full Syllabus:

No Syllabus is available at this time.

[syllabus title]


Giving Feedback

Giving feedback is the activity around which the entire project is designed. You may have considerable professional experience giving feedback on writing — whether to colleagues, employees, or other contexts — or perhaps this is an fairly novel experience. Given the aims and nature of the Reader Project, we are hoping that our volunteers engage with student writing in a particular way–one that is quite different from what is conventionally done in other contexts.

The primary aim of the project is to help students really understand what it means to write for readers, rather than as a school assignment. Think about the following when you give feedback, whether in writing or in real time:

  • Respond as a reader rather than as an editor. (They can get basic editorial help from others.) Focus on sharing your reactions to the draft as a user of such writing. What are you thinking as you read? More