At a Crossroads:

At this point in the process, I need to make a decision regarding the primary sources I will select and the aim of the lesson plan I am about to create. I’m torn between continuing with the En Routes postcard project or an alternate plan that may give me a better chance at applying historical thinking principles and pedagogy coming from our class readings.

The anthropologist who has kindly provided me access to the a selection of postcards from Puerto Rico (1898-1950) has not had the chance to digitize the back side of the items. This may have an impact on the historical questions the postcard collection may generate among  learners. Having this other vantage point of the postcard can possibly give us information on who sent the card and who received it, which would facilitate scholarly conversations on  U.S.-Puerto Rican relationships and on American perceptions on Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans. The writings on the back of the cards (specially, if they were mailed) can give us some key pieces to the complex relationship between both countries. This time constraint

Plan B:

“Image of Empire”: Meanings in American Culture of Puerto Rico & Cuba (1898 and Aftermath of Spanish-American War)

This alternate plan offers another route for understanding U.S.-Puerto Rico relationships, but through the study of political cartoons from the War in 1898 and its aftermath. This lesson plan has the potential of activating students in an interactive process of interpretation that pulls together many of the HIST689 course readings.

I can see students investigating the ways in which these cartoons (1) represented the ideas of their creators, and (2) may have derived meanings by past audiences. Understanding the context in which these cartoons were produced is a key elements of historical thinking that interest me greatly, as it has been a challenge for many students. Students would apply discourse analysis techniques to interpret illustrations.

Overarching questions:

How do these American representations of Puerto Ricans and Cubans reflect the political and economic developments taking place at the turn of the 20th century?

Is the ambivalence of the relationships between these three countries evident in these visual representations?

How can learners, through the examination of primary evidence, best develop the necessary skills to read meanings in a different culture or system of representation?




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