Angelique Dwyer: I’m a Gustie and This is How I Teach

Posted on September 29th, 2015 by

Dwyer in classroomAngelique Dwyer

Assistant Professor in Modern Languages, Literature, and CulturesSpanishLALACS; and Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies

What classes do you regularly teach?

SPA-200 Crossing Borders, SPA-280 Social Analysis through Film and Literature in Spanish, SPA-320 From Latin America to Latinos in the U.S., and SPA-390 Through the Lens. Both SPA-200 and SPA-320 have community engagement components with Language Buddies and SPA-280 with Language Amiguitos.

What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received?

1. “Make sure you look like a swan on the surface even though your legs are paddling like crazy under water.” (Liskin-Gasparro)

2. “(When planning your course syllabus) Don’t make your future self mad at your present self.” (Yurie Hong)

Tell us about your favorite topic or course to teach.

My favorite course to teach is SPA-390 Through the Lens, because it enables me to return to my undergraduate years of media and film production. It’s so exciting to witness the creative process that students undergo in class: hearing their ideas for short films, reading their film scripts, overseeing their storyboards and shooting plans and then viewing the final product.

Describe a favorite in-class activity or assignment.Language Buddies

My favorite assignment is using songs / music to foreground cultural analyses. In my classes it is expected to engage in the lyrical analysis of a “bachata” and/or “reggeaton” when discussing how gender and sexuality is constructed and performed in the current Latino cultural landscape. “Corridos” (very much like Polka) and “narcocorridos” are analyzed when discussing how stories (of migration and drug trafficking, respectively) are narrated for a national and transnational audience. Students will interpret what the singer is saying, question the argument(s) and is then given the opportunity to reply in the form of an essay and/or song and/or performance.

What teaching and learning techniques work best for you?

In the past year I have increased my use of images to forego visual analysis and deconstruction. Students respond very well, provided there is proper scaffolding and direction to fit the topic and desired angle.

Tell us something that you’ve learned about yourself from teaching.

I’ve learned that as much as I love the classroom and the exchange of energies that takes place, I also need to recharge and refuel. Meditation, walking and dance enable me to do so. I have a yoga mat in my office and when 2 cups of coffee aren’t enough, I hit the mat.

Three words that best describe your teaching style.

Comedic. Benevolent. Challenging.

With OLAS in 2013What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

To co-construct learning, fueled by fun and trust.

Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had.

A Caucasian student in class asked the only Hispanic student if his dad had crossed the border illegally.

What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you?

(They might not all be surprised to hear) That I dance in my office when no one comes to office hours. Juan Luis Guerra always makes me feel happy.

What are you currently reading for pleasure?

Umberto Eco’s “Bandolino”

Who would you like to fill out this survey next?

Henry MacCarthy

The How I Teach series asks Gustavus faculty members to share their thoughts on assignments, course activities, and teaching in general. Most Tuesdays a new Gustavus faculty member will be featured. If you have someone you want to see featured, let us know. Also, we’d love it if you’d answer the questions yourself and send those along with a few pictures to


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