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Mexican History (HIST 328.01)

"Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States."
- Common Mexican saying

Spring 2004, Truman State University
MC209, TR 4:30-5:50
Office: KB 225A

Marc Becker
Office Hours: W 1:30-3:30
Phone: x6036


This course surveys the history of Mexico from the earliest human inhabitation to the present. It will present different interpretations of the major themes and developments in Mexican history. A goal is to understand Mexico from the perspective of the Mexicans rather than from the point of view of the United States. It is important to understand, however, that Mexico is not a singular homogenous entity; there are "many Mexicos." In particular, this course will emphasize the creation of Mexican identities, the role which Indigenous peoples and women have played in that creation, and how that role has changed over time.

This course also meets the Intercultural Perspectives requirement of the Liberal Studies Program. As such, it will provide you with a greater knowledge and appreciation of cultural diversity through the study of encounters of Indigenous, European, and African worlds in Mexico. Hopefully this course will make you more aware of how culture has been used for political and social ends, including confronting racial discrimination, economic exploitation, and social injustice.


You are expected and required to attend every class session, and you are responsible for the material covered in the lectures, readings and films, and for any announcements made in class. Unexcused absences will negatively affect your grade. Please drop me an email note if you are sick or otherwise unable to attend class. If you have a disability or any conflicts which may affect your class performance, please bring this to my attention immediately so that we can make arrangements for this to be a positive learning experience for you. Please let me know if you have suggestions for improving the class.

My primary means of communication with you outside of class will be via the CourseInfo ( web page. To logon, enter your email id as the user name, and your social security number as your password (unless you have already changed this password for another class). Once you are logged on, click on "student tools" and then "change your information" to change your password. If you forget your password, email the administrator ( to reset it for you. Be sure the email address under "student tools" is set to an account that you regularly read. Please let me know if you need assistance in using these resources.


The following are the required books for this class. 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 which they present, so it is critically important that you keep up with the readings.

Joseph, Gilbert M. and Timothy J. Henderson. The Mexico Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003.

MacLachlan, Colin M. and William H. Beezley. El Gran Pueblo: A History of Greater Mexico. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall, 2004.

Mintz, Steven, ed. Mexican American Voices. St. James, New York: Brandywine Press, 2000.

Ortiz, Teresa. Never Again a World Without Us: Voices of Mayan Women in Chiapas, Mexico. Washington: Ecumenical Program on Central America & the Caribbean (EPICA), 2001.

Schroeder, Susan, Stephanie Wood, and Robert Stephen Haskett, eds. Indian Women of Early Mexico. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.

Schwartz, Stuart B. Victors and Vanquished: Spanish and Nahua Views of the Conquest of Mexico. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2000.

Assignments and grades

Course grades will be based on the following assignments. You can check your grade progress in CourseInfo (there is a total of 1000 possible points in the class). More detailed information on the written assignments will be posted to the web page. I do not accept "drop and run" papers. Grades on late assignments will be penalized 10% for each day that they are late. Successful completion of all assignments is required to receive credit for this class.

Discussion board postings & responses
Cabeza de Vaca essay (Jan 27)
The Alamo
Source analysis (March 2)
Research paper (May 4)
Final exam (May 6)

260 pts.

Discussion board postings: I will post a discussion question for each reading to the discussion board on the CourseInfo web page. I will grade your posting based on your synthesis of the material, ability to analyze its significance, an evaluation of its importance to the broader themes of this class, and the extent to which you engage other students in a virtual discussion. Respond to this question by noon on Wednesday, and by noon on Thursday post a critique of one other person's response to the original question. Do not engage in personal attacks, but critique that person's ideas. What are strong and weak aspects of these ideas? How would you assess these ideas? Each post is worth 10 points (total 260 points).

Cabeza de Vaca. What are the relative strengths and weaknesses of the film Cabeza de Vaca in portraying the history of the Spanish conquest of the Americas? How would you improve on this film as a historical document? Is film a valid medium for discussing historical events? Use the readings from the first three weeks of the semester and other material as appropriate to support your arguments. The essay must be typed, double spaced, and include citations, a bibliography, and page numbers. (Due January 27; 100 points.)

The Alamo. The Alamo is scheduled to be released to theaters in April. I would like to build a collaborative classroom assignment around this film (200 pts).

Research paper: Each student is required to write a research paper on a topic related to Mexican history. The paper must be 10 to 15 pages long, use a minimum of six scholarly sources (books and journal articles), be typed, double spaced, and include page numbers, citations and a bibliography. The format should follow Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations. This project will be developed in a series of stages. Keep each of these assignments in a portfolio or folder, and hand in the entire portfolio with each subsequent assignment. You MUST meet every one of these deadlines. Failure to do so will result in no credit for the research paper (20% of the course grade). Please do not even think of testing me on this point..

Feb 3: Library exercise.

Feb 10: Locate and annotate three Internet sites related to the topic of your final project. Post this annotated list of sites in CourseInfo (click on "student tools" and then "edit your home page). More information on this assignment is posted to the web page.

Feb 24: Research paper proposal, including a paragraph describing your project, the questions you seek to address with the project, a hypothesis of what you expect to find (the thesis statement of your research paper), and a preliminary bibliography of sources that you plan to use.

March 2: As part of your research paper, analyze one of the major sources you will use in the writing of this paper. This paper should be typed, double-spaced, probably about 3-pages long, and include citations and a bibliography (40 pts).

March 16: Hand in an annotated bibliography which explores the strengths and weaknesses of each source that you plan to use in writing your research paper and its value in relation to your research. Expand and include this annotated bibliography as the bibliography for your paper.

April 13: Peer review of research papers. Read and comment on another student's paper via TurnItIn ( New users should click on the "Create a user profile" link near the top right corner of the page, and follow the subsequent instructions. As you work your way through those directions, you will need to use this class's ID (1110494) and enrollment password (zapata). Please finish reviewing the paper by April 15.

April 27-29: Oral presentations. In your presentation, tell us what questions you addressed in your research project, what you expected to find (your thesis), a summary of your actual findings, and your conclusions. Please feel free to include visuals and other materials in your presentation. More information on evaluation criteria for these presentations is on the class web page.

May 4: Final research papers due. When handing in your final draft, please be sure to include copies of all of the previous assignments including the peer-reviewed draft.

Final exam: The final exam is cumulative (200 pts).

Class Schedule

Week 1 (Jan 13-15) Introduction & Geography
Read: Joseph/Henderson. Mexico Reader, Intro & Pt I ("The Search for Lo Mexicano")
Mintz, Mexican American Voices, Ch 1 ("Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca")
Assignment: Cabeza de Vaca essay (due Tuesday, Jan 27)

Week 2 (Jan 20-22) Ancient Civilizations
Read: Joseph/Henderson. Mexico Reader, Pt II ("Ancient Civilizations")
Schwartz, Victors and Vanquished

Week 3 (Jan 27) Encounter
Read: MacLachlan/Beezley. Gran Pueblo, Ch 1 ("Collapse and Survival")
Joseph/Henderson. Mexico Reader, Pt III ("Conquest and Colony")
Tues, Jan 27: Meet in library (Pickler 103)

Week 4 (Feb 3-5) Colonial
Read: Schroeder, Wood, and Haskett, Indian Women
Mintz, Mexican American Voices, Pt I ("America's Spanish Heritage")
Assignment: Library exercise (due Tues, Feb 3)

Week 5 (Feb 10-12) Independence
Read: Joseph/Henderson. Mexico Reader, Pt IV ("Trials of the Young Republic")
Assignment: Annotated Internet sites (due Tues, Feb 10)

Week 6 (Feb 17-19) Remember the Alamo!
Read: MacLachlan/Beezley. Gran Pueblo, Ch 2 ("Centrifugal Forces")
Mintz, Mexican American Voices, Pts II-V

Week 7 (Feb 24-26) Liberals and Conservatives
Read: MacLachlan/Beezley. Gran Pueblo, Ch 3 ("Liberalism Defined")
Assignment: Research paper proposal (due Tues, Feb 24)

Week 8 (March 2-4) Porfiriato
Read: MacLachlan/Beezley. Gran Pueblo, Ch 4 ("Porfirio Díaz Triumphant"), Ch 5 ("The Porfiriato"), and Ch 6 ("Prelude to Revolution")
Assignment: Source analysis (due Tues, March 2)

Week 9 (March 16-18) Revolution
Read: MacLachlan/Beezley. Gran Pueblo, Ch 7 ("Making a Revolution") and Ch 8 ("Making a Revolution Work")
Joseph/Henderson. Mexico Reader, Pt V ("Revolution")
Assignment: Annotated bibliography (due Tues, March 16)

Week 10 (March 23-25) Indigenismo
Read: MacLachlan/Beezley. Gran Pueblo, Ch 9 ("Making a Revolution Work") and Ch 10 ("The Revolution Becomes the Miracle")
Joseph/Henderson. Mexico Reader, Pt VI ("The Perils of Modernity")

Week 11-12 (March 30-April 8) Tlatelolco
Read: MacLachlan/Beezley. Gran Pueblo, Ch 11 ("The Miracle") and Ch 12 ("After the Miracle")
Joseph/Henderson. Mexico Reader, Pt VII ("From the Ruins")

Week 13 (April 13-15) Chicanos
Read: Mintz, Mexican American Voices, Pts VI-XII
Joseph/Henderson. Mexico Reader, Pt VIII ("The Border and Beyond")
Assignment: Peer review (due Tues, April 13)

Week 14 (April 20-22) Zapatistas
Read: Ortiz, Teresa. Never Again a World Without Us

Week 15 (April 27-29) Class presentations

May 4 Final review; Research paper due

Final Exam: Tuesday, May 6, 1:30-3:20 p.m.

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