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Mexican History (HIST 392)

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

Fall 2005, Truman State University
BT 268, TR 1:30-2:50
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. I do not treat students as empty vessels waiting to be filled with knowledge; we need to be constituents rather than simply recipients of our education. Our goal 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.


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. Do not wait until the last minute to buy these books since about half-way through the semester the bookstore will return unsold copies to the publisher.

Gonzales, Michael J. The Mexican Revolution, 1910-1940. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2002.

Hayden, Tom. The Zapatista Reader. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2002.

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

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

Taibo, Paco Ignacio. '68. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2003.

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). I do not accept "drop and run" papers. 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.

Reaction paper to each book (4 x 100 pts ea)
Research proposal (Sept 20)
Source analysis (Oct 11)
Research paper (Dec 8)
Final exam (Dec 13)

400 pts.

Reaction papers: Critique the argument in each of the books (except MacLachlan/Beezley) that we are reading in this class. The essays should be typed, double spaced, follow good essay form (have an intro, thesis, conclusion, etc.) and include citations, a bibliography, and page numbers.

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. See the Blackboard web page for more information on this assignment. 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.

Sept 20: Research paper proposal, including a paragraph describing your project, the research questions you seek to address with the project, a hypothesis of what you expect to find, and a preliminary bibliography of sources that you plan to use (50 pts).

Oct 11: 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 (50 pts).

Beginning Oct 26: 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.

Nov 22: Peer review of research papers. Bring a draft of your research paper to exchange with another student. Read and comment on the other student's paper and return by the next class period.

Dec 8: 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 (Aug 30-Sept 1) Introduction & Geography

Week 2 (Sept 6-8) Ancient Civilizations

Read: Schwartz, Victors and Vanquished

Week 3 (Sept 13-15) Colonial

Read: MacLachlan/Beezley. Gran Pueblo, Ch 1 ("Collapse and Survival")

Week 4 (Sept 20-22) Independence

Read: MacLachlan/Beezley. Gran Pueblo, Ch 2 ("Centrifugal Forces")

Assignment: Research paper proposal (due Tues, Sept 20)

Week 5 (Sept 27-29) Liberals and Conservatives

Read: MacLachlan/Beezley. Gran Pueblo, Ch 3 ("Liberalism Defined")

Week 6 (Oct 4-6) Porfiriato

Read: MacLachlan/Beezley. Gran Pueblo, Ch 4 ("Porfirio Díaz Triumphant"), Ch 5 ("The Porfiriato"), and Ch 6 ("Prelude to Revolution")

Week 7 (Oct 11-13) Madero

Read: MacLachlan/Beezley. Gran Pueblo, Ch 7 ("Making a Revolution"); Gonzales, The Mexican Revolution, chs. 1-3

Assignment: Source analysis (due Tues, Oct 11)

Week 8 (Oct 18-20) Zapata

Read: Gonzales, The Mexican Revolution, chs. 4-6

Week 9 (Oct 25-27) Cardenas

Read: MacLachlan/Beezley. Gran Pueblo, Ch 8 ("Making a Revolution Work"); Gonzales, The Mexican Revolution, chs. 7-9

Assignment: Begin oral presentations of research papers

Week 10 (Nov 1-3) Indigenismo

Read: MacLachlan/Beezley. Gran Pueblo, Ch 9 ("Making a Revolution Work") and Ch 10 ("The Revolution Becomes the Miracle")

Week 11 (Nov 8-10) Tlatelolco

Read: Taibo, '68

Week 12 (Nov 15-22) The Mexican Miracle

Read: MacLachlan/Beezley. Gran Pueblo, Ch 11 ("The Miracle") and Ch 12 ("After the Miracle")

Assignment: Peer review (due Tues, Nov 22)

Week 13 (Nov 29-Dec 1) Zapatistas

Read: Hayden, The Zapatista Reader

Week 14 (Dec 6-8) Wrap up / Review; Research paper due

Final Exam: Tuesday, December 13, 11:30-1:20 p.m.

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