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

Reader requirements: Professional (legal, business, health, non-profit, etc) or scholarly connection to Latin America and/or human rights. 


  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.

Target audience: College educated but not scholar in the field.

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

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

Schedule (Student – Reader Interactions):

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

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

(1) 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.

(2) Students will submit a one-paragraph sketch of their essay idea to readers by 9/15. Readers will meet with students to discuss the sketch–ideally within one week of receiving it, but no later than 9/22. [Meeting agenda: Discuss the idea: What is interesting about the idea? How might the idea or focus be adjusted to make the project more coherent, understandable, or relevant? Does the reader have suggested sources that might help the student frame or develop the idea?]

(3) Students send a draft of their essay to their readers by 11/11. Readers will meet with students to discuss the draft by 11/18 [Agenda: Readers should focus on the big picture: How is the piece working? What parts are compelling? Where do you get lost, confused or have difficulty following the logic of the essay? Where do you want to know more?  What might benefit from rethinking? (Readers may choose to also give written feedback prior to meeting. If so, students should receive this at least one day before the meeting to read the comments and prepare questions for the reader.)

(4–optional): If student and reader have the time and interest for one more round, they may meet once more for feedback on the revised draft before submission. This can be via written comments and/or real-time meeting. [Agenda: At this stage, readers should help students polish their writing. Focus should be on clarity of expression, organization and so on. Consider doing a Think-Aloud Response, which is a great way to help students understand your experience as a reader. Avoid general line editing, but let students know if there are specific editing issues that reoccur.]

Link to full Syllabus:

No Syllabus is available at this time.

[syllabus title]

Giving feedback in the Reader Project

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. Please take a few minutes to read our Guide to Giving Feedback!