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download pdfLatin America During the National Period (HIST 140)

Poor people inhabit rich lands”
- E. Bradford Burns

Fall 2010, Truman State University
MC 209, 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 from independence to the present. 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.


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.

Meade, Teresa. A History of Modern Latin America. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. ISBN: 978-1405120517

O'Connor, Erin and Leo Garofalo. Documenting Latin America, Volume 2. Pearson. 2011. ISBN: 0132085097

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
Daily identification terms (5 pts ea.) 115 pts
13 newspaper article analyses (5 pts ea.) 65
7 primary source analyses (60 pts ea.) 420
Midterm exam (October 7) 200
Final exam (December 14) 200

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 Meade's A History of Modern 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 noon on Thursday post an analysis of a newspaper article from the previous week on Latin America 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, 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, 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 one of the primary sources from each section of O'Connor/Garofalo's Documenting Latin America. Consider these questions:

  1. Who created the document? What is the author’s gender, race, and class status?
  2. When was the document written?
  3. To whom was the document addressed?
  4. Why was the document created?

Using your own words, summarize the main points of the document, explaining what the document reveals, what it conceals, and how its contents were shaped by the experiences and perspectives of the author. Your analysis should be one-page long, and be typed, double-spaced, and include citations.

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

For the final exam, go to and create a user login (best to use a name that I can associate with you so that you receive credit for the assignment). First, use the wiki as a class to draft a prompt that reflects a key theme we have discussed this semester. Then, again as a class, answer the question. The final exam is worth 200 points, or 20 percent of the course grade. Half of the grade will be for your individual contributions, and the other half will be a group grade for the overall quality of both the prompt and final essay.

Class Schedule

Week 1 (Aug 26) Intro & Geography
Read: Meade, ch. 1

Week 2 (Aug 31/Sept 2) Colonial background
Read: Meade, ch. 2

Week 3 (Sept 7/9) Independence
Read: Meade, ch. 3; O'Connor/Garofalo, Section I

Week 4 (Sept 14/16) Caudillos
Read: Meade, ch. 4

Week 5 (Sept 21/23) Commodities
Read: Meade, ch. 5; O'Connor/Garofalo, Section II

Week 6 (Sept 28/30) Immigration
Read: Meade, ch. 6; O'Connor/Garofalo, Section III

Week 7 (Oct 5/7) Midterm

Week 8 (Oct 12/14) Mexican Revolution
Read: Meade, ch. 7; O'Connor/Garofalo, Section IV

Week 9 (Oct 19) Socialism
Read: Meade, ch. 8

Week 10 (Oct 26/28) Populism
Read: Meade, ch. 9; O'Connor/Garofalo, Section V

Week 11 (Nov 2/4) Dictators
Read: Meade, ch. 10

Week 12 (Nov 9/11) Guerrillas
Read: Meade, ch. 11; O'Connor/Garofalo, Section VI

Week 13 (Nov 16/18) Progress
Read: Meade, ch. 12

Week 14 (Nov 30/Dec 2) Central America
Read: Meade, ch. 13; O'Connor/Garofalo, Section VII

Week 15 (Dec 7/9) Social Movements
Read: Meade, ch. 14

Final Exam: Tuesday, December 14, 11:30-1:20

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