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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

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Dr. Nathian Rodriguez

SDSU Offers Course on Tejano Icon Selena

The course serves as an exploration of Latinx representation in media.
By Lainie Fraser with video by Melissa Porter

Starting in spring 2020, San Diego State University students will have the opportunity to explore the legacy of Tejano music icon Selena Quintanilla and her representation in media.
School of Journalism and Media Studies assistant professor Nathian Rodriguez was inspired to create the class by the connection he had with Selena growing up. Raised in San Antonio, Texas, Rodriguez describes himself as having a dual identity between Spanish and English and being Mexican-American.
“As I have progressed in my academic and professional career, I noticed that there weren’t a lot of classes that specifically focus on Latinx identity,” Rodriguez said. “It was either all Chicano, all Latin American or all Texan so this was an opportunity to create a class that uses a celebrity like Selena to better explain what is happening across the media spectrum with Latinx representation.”
Students enrolled in JMS 496: Selena and Latinx Media Representation will have the opportunity to explore all facets of Selena’s identity and utilize one of SDSU’s Learning Research Studios for group-based work. The Grammy Award-winner performer was shot and killed by a former manager in 1995 at the height of her career, a murder that was front-page news across the U.S. and Mexico and led to an outpouring of grief.
“Students can expect to be taken on a journey across her life and also her musical career,” Rodriguez said. “It is not going to be a traditional lecture type of classroom, it is going to be held in one of our Learning Research Studios where students sit together and it is more group and team-based. They will be researching her and other Latinx representations in real-time. Students will be exposed to not just her life and music and legacy but also other representations and misrepresentations of Latinx individuals across the spectrum.”
Rodriguez said the course is also a big step for the School of Journalism and Media Studies in terms of representation and creating courses that speak to the diverse student body on campus.
“San Diego State University, like many universities across the southern border, is a Hispanic Serving Institution,” Rodriguez said. “I want students to know that we are not just counting them as numbers but we are creating content that is going to be here to serve them.”
Rodriguez hopes students take away that this course is about more than Selena and celebrity, it is about representation and misrepresentation and also the students’ future roles in content creation.
“These individuals are going to be our future content creators,” Rodriguez said. “That is what we are cultivating and crafting here at SDSU. I want them to be more critical thinkers and critical media makers when they go out into the profession themselves.”