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download pdfLatin America During the National Period (HIST 140)

“Poor people inhabit rich lands”
- E. Bradford Burns

Spring 2013, Truman State University
MC208, MW 3:30-4:50  
Office: MC 227 

Marc Becker
Office Hours: MW 2:30-3:20
Phone: x6036

This course surveys the history of Latin America from the peopling of the Americas to the present. We will examine a variety of issues including economics, democracy, racism, class structures, gender, ethnicity, human rights, globalization, and popular movements. Why did wealth and power shift from the southern Americas to the north over the last several years, and why has Latin America faced so many difficulties in harnessing their natural resources for the benefit of common citizens? Rather than analyzing Latin America from a North American point of view, we will examine how Latin Americans view themselves and how their culture, economics, and politics have developed in different directions than the United States and Europe.
This course fulfills the history mode of inquiry in the Liberal Studies Program. In this mode, students will study a broad topic or major geographic area over an extended period of time and will demonstrate competence in one or more of the following areas, which characterize the work of historians:

  • thinking in terms of causation, change over time, contingency, context, and chronological frameworks;
  • the content and methodologies of humanistic and social-scientific disciplines to study and interpret the past;
  • analyzing the interplay between choices individuals have made and developments societies have undergone; and
  • understanding the social and aesthetic richness of different cultures.

Our goal in this class is to challenge existing assumptions, engage alternative viewpoints, and encourage critical thinking. Through the study of history, we seek to empower ourselves to be better citizens, and to provide ourselves with the skills necessary to play a positive and educated role in society. We need to be active constituents rather than mere recipients of our education. To accomplish those tasks, we should strive to create an open and supportive learning environment. Regular attendance and active participation are also necessary. Please drop me a note if you are unable to attend, or if you have any concerns or suggestions for improving the class.

Following is the required book for this class. Additional readings will be posted to the Blackboard website. Read the assignments before class so that you are prepared to carry on an intelligent discussion of the material in class. Lectures and discussions will complement the readings and assume the base level of knowledge that they present, so it is critically important that you keep up with the readings.

Lane, Kris E. and Matthew Restall. The Riddle of Latin America. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-618-15306-0

Assignments and grades
Course grades will be based on the following assignments. You can check your grade progress on the class Blackboard web page (there is a total of 1000 possible points in the class). Assignments are due at the beginning of class, and I do not accept “drop and run” papers or papers submitted without the physical presence of the student. Grades on late assignments will be penalized 10 percent for each day that they are late. Successful completion of all assignments is required to receive credit for this class.

Assignment                                                                                         Points
Daily identification terms (5 pts ea.)                                      100 pts
15 newspaper article analyses (5 pts ea.)                                 75
15 primary source analyses (40 pts ea.)                                 600
Final exam (May 6)                                                                225

Daily identification terms. We will begin each class period with identifying and giving the significance of one identification term drawn from a list posted to the Blackboard web page for each of the weekly assigned readings from Lane and Restall’s The Riddle of Latin America. These will be graded on a scale of 1 to 5 points. One point means that you are present, 2 points indicate that something was fundamentally wrong with your response, 3 points indicate a rote response from the text, 4 points represent analytical thought, and 5 points are for responses that reveal critical thought that extends significantly beyond the text and places the term in a broad historical context.

Newspaper reports. By class time on Monday, post an analysis of a newspaper article on Latin America from the previous week from one of the daily newspapers distributed on campus (New York Times, St. Louis Post Dispatch, or USA Today) to the discussion board on the Blackboard web page. If you would like to use a different source for this assignment, please have me approve it in advance. Briefly describe the content of the article and then analyze its historical significance. To receive credit, each post MUST include the author (if given) and title of the article, the name of the newspaper, the date it was published, and the section/page numbers. Place the title of the article in the subject line of the post, and if someone has already written on your article post a response that extends the discussion of its significance. The critiques will be graded on a scale similar to the daily identification terms.

Primary source analyses. Analyze the primary source posted for each week to the Blackboard webpage. Using your own words, explain what you think the document reveals, what it conceals, and how the experiences and perspectives of the author shaped its contents. In order to identify as the main issues in the document, consider:

  • What does this source tell a reader about a historical event? What are its limits in explaining those events?
  • How does this source fit into a larger historical narrative? Does it challenge or conform to a dominant narrative?

I am interested in how you perceive or understand this document. Your analysis should be no more than one-page long, typed, double-spaced, and include citations and a bibliography. In order to analyze the document, examine the following evidence:

  • What type of source is this?
  • What can you extrapolate about who created the source, when, and where?
  • Who did the author consider the audience to be?
  • Why was the document created?
  • What views and perspectives does the document present? Are other views silenced or challenged?

Final Exam. The comprehensive final exam will draw on the class readings, films, and discussions.

Class Schedule

Week 1 (Jan 14/16)     Ancient America
            Read: Lane/Restall, ch. 1

Week 2 (Jan 23)          Atlantic World
            Read: Lane/Restall, ch. 2

Week 3 (Jan 28/30)     Conquests
            Read: Lane/Restall, ch. 3

Week 4 (Feb 4/6)         Slavery
            Read: Lane/Restall, ch. 4

Week 5 (Feb 11/13)     Religion
            Read: Lane/Restall, ch. 5

Week 6 (Feb 18/20)     Daily Life
            Read: Lane/Restall, ch. 6

Week 7 (Feb 25/27)     Bourbon Reforms
            Read: Lane/Restall, ch. 7

Week 8 (March 4/6)    Independence
            Read: Lane/Restall, ch. 8

Week 9 (March 18/20)            Caudillos
            Read: Lane/Restall, ch. 9

Week 10 (March 25/27)          Liberals and Conservatives
            Read: Lane/Restall, ch. 10

Week 11 (April 3)       Neocolonialism
            Read: Lane/Restall, ch. 11

Week 12 (April 8/10)  Indians and Peasants
            Read: Lane/Restall, ch. 12

Week 13 (April 15/17)            Revolutions
            Read: Lane/Restall, ch. 13

Week 14 (April 22/24)            Dictatorships
            Read: Lane/Restall, ch. 14

Week 15 (April 29/May 1)     Neoliberalism
            Read: Lane/Restall, ch. 15

Final Exam: Monday, May 6, 3:30-5:20

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