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download pdfLatin America During the National Period (HIST 140)

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

Spring 2018, Truman State University
VH 1332, MWF 10:30-11:20
Office: MC 227 

Marc Becker
Office Hours: typically MWF 12:30-11:15 & MW 2:30-5:00
Phone: x6036

This course surveys the history of Latin America from independence from European colonial powers at the beginning of the nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century. We will examine a variety of issues including inequality, leadership styles, democracy, religion, and gender. 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.

See the syllabus addendum on Blackboard for additional class policies.


Meade, Teresa. A History of Modern Latin America, 2d ed. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015. ISBN: 9781118772485. The author has a study guide for this textbook at
McPherson, Alan L. A Short History of U.S. Interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-118-95400-3.

Assignments and grades

Assignment                                                                                         Points
Daily identification terms (5 pts ea.)                                      150 pts
Weekly quizzes (10 pts ea.)                                                   150
10 response papers (50 pts ea.)                                             500
Final exam                                                                               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 webpage 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.

Weekly quizzes. A weekly quiz is on the Blackboard webpage for each chapter from the Meade textbook. Complete the quiz by class time on Monday.

Response papers. Write a one-page typed essay for each chapter in McPherson that compares his treatment of U.S. intervention in Latin America to the Meade textbook. The essays must be typed, double-spaced, and include citations. The essays are due on Friday for each week with a reading from McPherson.

Final Exam. The final exam is comprehensive.

Class Schedule

Week 1 (Jan 17-19)     Intro & Geography
            Read: Meade, ch. 1; McPherson, ch. 1

Week 2 (Jan 22-26)     Colonial background
            Read: Meade, ch. 2

Week 3 (Jan 29-Feb 2)            Slavery
            Read: Meade, ch. 3

Week 4 (Feb 5-9)        Caudillos
            Read: Meade, ch. 4; McPherson, ch. 2

Week 5 (Feb 12-16)    Neocolonialism
            Read: Meade, ch. 5; McPherson, ch. 3

Week 6 (Feb 19-23)    Caste Wars
            Read: Meade, ch. 6

Week 7 (Feb 26-March 2)       Mexican Revolution
            Read: Meade, ch. 7; McPherson, ch. 4

Week 8 (March 5-9)    Socialism
            Read: Meade, ch. 8; McPherson, ch. 5

Week 9 (March 19-23)            Populism
            Read: Meade, ch. 9; McPherson, ch. 6

Week 10 (March 26-30)          Dictators
            Read: Meade, ch. 10; McPherson, ch. 7

Week 11 (April 4-6)    Cuban Revolution
            Read: Meade, ch. 11; McPherson, ch. 8

Week 12 (April 9-13)  Chilean Path to Socialism
            Read: Meade, ch. 12

Week 13 (April 16-20)            Liberation Theology
            Read: Meade, ch. 13

Week 14 (April 23-27)            Pink Tide Governments
            Read: Meade, ch. 14; McPherson, ch. 9 & conc

Week 15 (April 30-May 4)     Immigration
            Read: Meade, ch. 15

Final Exam: Thurs, May 10, 9:30-11:20

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