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Latin America During the National Period (HIST 140):
With a view toward the Caribbean

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

Fall 2007, Truman State University
BH 262, 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 Latin America with a particular emphasis on the Caribbean basin. We will examine a variety of issues including economics, democracy, racism, class structures, gender, ethnicity, human rights, globalization, and popular movements. 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:

  1. thinking in terms of causation, change over time, contingency, context, and chronological frameworks;
  2. the content and methodologies of humanistic and social-scientific disciplines to study and interpret the past;
  3. analyzing the interplay between choices individuals have made and developments societies have undergone; and
  4. 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.

Study Abroad in the Caribbean

Consider joining a three-week, six-credit study abroad course "Sweet Power: Sugar, Empires, and Slaves in the Caribbean" planned for May-June 2008. More information will be posted to


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.

Dubois, Laurent and John D. Garrigus, ed. Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 1789-1804: A brief history with documents. Bedford Series in History and Culture. Boston, MA ; New York, NY: Bedford/St. Martins, 2006. ISBN: 0-312-41501-X

Gott, Richard. Cuba: A New History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004. ISBN: 0300111142

Picó, Fernando. History of Puerto Rico: A panorama of its people. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2006. ISBN: 1558763716

Rogozinski, Jan. A Brief History of the Caribbean: From the Arawak and the Carib to the Present, rev. ed. New York: Plume, 2000. ISBN: 0452281938

Wilpert, Greg. Changing Venezuela by Taking Power: The History and Policies of the Chavez Government . London: Verso, 2006. ISBN: 1-84467-552-1

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). More detailed information on the written assignments will be posted to the Blackboard web page. 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

Daily identification terms (5 pts ea.) 100 pts
15 newspaper article analyses (10 pts ea.) 150
Essay (Nov 8) 200
Midterm exam (Oct 18) 250
Final exam (Dec 11) 300

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. 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. Each week by noon on Thursday (except for weeks 8), post an analysis of a newspaper article from the previous week on Latin America from one of the 3 daily newspapers distributed on campus (New York Times, St. Louis Post Dispatch, or USA Today) to the discussion board on the Blackboard web page. Briefly describe the content of the article and then analyze its historical, social, and political significance. Be sure to include the title and author (if given) of the article, the name of the newspaper, and the date it was published, and the section/page numbers. Place the title of the article in the subject line of the post so that subsequent analyses on the same article are together in one thread. The critiques will be graded on a scale similar to the daily identification terms.

Essay on Slave Revolutions. Drawing on the assigned readings, films, and class discussions, compare responses to slavery across the Caribbean. The essays should be three to five pages long, typed, double spaced, follow good essay form (have an intro, thesis, conclusion, etc.) and include citations, a bibliography, and page numbers.

Exams. The midterm and comprehensive final exams will draw on the class readings, films, and discussions.

Class Schedule

Week 1 (Aug 28/30) Introduction
Read: Jan Knippers Black, "Introduction: Understanding the Persistence of Inequity," in Latin America, its Problems and its Promise a Multidisciplinary Introduction, 4th ed., ed. Jan Knippers Black (Boulder Colo.: Westview Press, 2005), 1-20 (on the Blackboard web page).

Week 2 (Sept 4/6) Arawaks and Caribs
Read: Rogozinski, Brief History of the Caribbean, ch. 1; Picó, History of Puerto Rico, chs. 1-2

Week 3 (Sept 11/13) Columbus
Read: Rogozinski, Brief History of the Caribbean, chs. 2-4

Week 4 (Sept 18/20) Conquests
Read: Picó, History of Puerto Rico, chs. 3-4; Gott, Cuba, ch. 1

Week 5 (Sept 25/27) Empires
Read: Rogozinski, Brief History of the Caribbean, Part 2; Picó, History of Puerto Rico, chs. 5-7

Week 6 (Oct 2/4) Sugar
Read: Rogozinski, Brief History of the Caribbean, Part 3; Picó, History of Puerto Rico, chs. 8-10

Week 7 (Oct 9/11) Slavery
Read: Rogozinski, Brief History of the Caribbean, Part 4; Picó, History of Puerto Rico, ch. 11

Week 8 (Oct 16/18) Midterm Exam

Week 9 (Oct 23/25) Haitian Revolt
Read: Dubois, Laurent/Garrigus, Slave Revolution in the Caribbean

Week 10 (Oct 30/Nov 1) Last Supper
Read: Gott, Cuba, ch. 2

Week 11 (Nov 6/8) 1898
Read: Picó, History of Puerto Rico, chs. 12-13; Gott, Cuba, chs. 3-4

Week 12 (Nov 13/15) Cuban Revolution
Read: Gott, Cuba, chs. 5-8; Rogozinski, Brief History of the Caribbean, ch. 16

Week 13 (Nov 20) Vieques
Read: Rogozinski, Brief History of the Caribbean, chs. 17-21; Picó, History of Puerto Rico, chs. 14-16

Week 14 (Nov 27/29) Bolivarian Revolution
Read: Wilpert, Changing Venezuela by Taking Power

Week 15 (Dec 4/6) Final reviews

Final Exam Tuesday, December 11, 11:30-1:20

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