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download pdfWomen in Latin American History (HIST 369)

Spring 2011, Truman State University
MC 209, TR 3:00-4:20
Office: KB 225A

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


This course assesses the continuities and changes in the lives of Latin American women from the peopling of the continent to the present. We will examine concepts that have structured Latin American beliefs about gender including of honor and shame, and machismo and marianismo, and examine issues of gender relations, sexuality, and political involvement. How do beliefs about gender and gender roles relate to social structures including race, class and political structures, and how have these beliefs changed over time? By the end of the course students should have a clearer understanding of how gender influences historical changes and continuity in Latin America.

This course 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 women in Latin America. Hopefully this course will make you more aware of how culture has been used for political and social ends, including confronting sexism, racial discrimination, economic exploitation, and social injustice.


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.


There is one required book for this class, and we will add additional readings for each week's topic. Read the assignments before class so that you are prepared to carry on an intelligent discussion of the material in class.

Wade, Peter. Race and Sex in Latin America. London: Pluto Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780745329499

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. 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
Response papers (15 x 20 pts ea) 300 pts
Presentation 200
Historiographic paper 200
Final exam 200
Participation 100

Response papers: Prepare a one-page written response to each week’s readings. Briefly state the authors’ main arguments and the evidence that they use. Examine the use of sources, methodology, and theory. Provide your own assessment or critique of the readings. The essays are due each Thursday for that week's readings, and must be typed, double spaced, and include citations.

Presentation and historiographic paper: Groups of two will present on one of each week's topics and write a ten-page historiographic paper on that topic. First, select one secondary reading and one primary source document for the entire class to read. The secondary reading must be a scholarly source, either a journal article or book chapter, that contains notes and a bibliography and should be about twenty pages long. The primary source should be an artifact (a letter, document, poem, image, etc.) from the period under discussion, and typically will be one-page in length. Have me approve the sources in time to distribute them to the class on the Thursday before we will discuss the topic.

On the Thursday of each week, the small group will begin with a ten-minute presentation on the material to the class followed by a discussion of the readings. Prepare a list of discussion questions for the class to guide the discussion.

Also on Thursday, submit a ten-page historiographic paper drawing on four to six sources related to the topic for that week, comparing the approaches, use of sources, and arguments in each source. The essays must be typed, double spaced, and include citations and page numbers. A bibliography of suggested sources is on the blackboard webpage, but you will want to expand on this list. Please let me know of additional items that you think should be on this list, even if you do not include them in your essay.

The library has a guide for locating sources for this assignment at Primary source documents can also be found in our microfilm collection; see

Final exam: The final exam will be a collaborative project that creates a visual representation (perhaps a poster, video, slideshow, or webpage) of one central theme that reflects the material what we have covered in this class.

Participation: The participation grade is not based on attendance (although this is expected and required), but on an active engagement with classroom discussions.

Class Schedule

Week 1 (Jan 11/13) Intro & Theory
Read Wade, chs. 1-2

Part I: Colonial period
Read Wade, ch. 3

Week 2 (Jan 18/20) Mama Ocllo (Indigenous America)

Week 3 (Jan 25/27) Malintzin (Conquests)
Film The Buried Mirror, pt. 2: Conflict of the gods (DP96 F839 1991 pt.2)

Week 4 (Feb 1/3) Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (Religion)
Film I, The Worst of All (PN1995.9.F6718 Y63 2003)

Week 5 (Feb 8/10) Xiça da Silva (Slavery)
Film Xiça (PN1995.9 F67169 X5 1993)

Week 6 (Feb 15/17) Micaela Bastidas (Resistance)
Film Woman of Courage (PN1997 .Q25 1993)

Week 7 (Feb 22) Manuela Sáenz (Independence)
Film Manuela Sáenz

Part II: National period
Read: Wade, ch. 4

Week 8 (March 1/3) Adelita (Mexican Revolution)
Film Like Water for Chocolate (PN1995.9.F6718 C65 2000)

Week 9 (March 15/17) Dolores Cacuango (peasant women)
Film Are Indians people?

Week 10 (March 22/24) Frida (Culture)
Film Frida (ND259.K33 F73 2004)

Week 11 (March 29/31) Evita (Populism)
Film Evita (F2849.P37 E9 1998)

Week 12 (April 5/7) Hebe de Bonafini (Revolutionary Motherhood)
Film The Official Story (PN1995.9.F6718 H57 1998); Americas, pt. 5: In women's hands (F1408 .A617 1993 pt.5)

Week 13 (April 14) María Elena Moyano (Revolutionary violence)
Film Courage (HQ1236.5.P47 C68 1998); Americas, pt. 9: Fire in the mind (F1408 .A617 1993 pt.9)

Part III: Contemporary period
Read: Wade, chs. 5-7

Week 14 (April 19/21) Benedita da Silva (Race)
Film Benedita da Silva (F2538.2.S55 B46 1990)

Week 15 (April 26/28) Comandanta Ramona (Zapatistas)
Film The Sixth Sun: Mayan Uprising In Chiapas (F1256 .S59 1996)

Final Exam: Thursday, May 5, 11:30-11:20

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