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download pdfLatin America During the National Period (HIST 1801)

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

Fall 2021, Truman State University
BH212, TR 9:00-10:20
Office: MC 227 

Marc Becker

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:

  • thinking in terms of causation, change over time, contingency, context, and chronological frameworks;
  • the content and methodologies of humanistic and social-scientific disciplines to study and interpret the past;
  • analyzing the interplay between choices individuals have made and developments societies have undergone; and
  • 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
Grandin, Greg. Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the making of an imperial republic. Updated and expanded ed. New York: Picador, 2021. ISBN: 9781250753298
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
15 Meade chapter quizzes (10 pts ea.)                                   150
14 Proof of reading exercises (40 pts ea.)                              560
29 Comprehension exercises (5 pts ea.)                                 145
Final exam                                                                              145

You can check your grade progress on the class Blackboard web page. Grades are calculated out of a total of 1000 possible points, and not the percentage of completed assignments as displayed in Blackboard. At least 900 points are necessary for an A, 800 for a B, 700 for a C, and 600 for a D. Fewer than 600 points is an F. Successful completion of all assignments is required to receive credit for this class.

Meade quizzes. A quiz is on the Blackboard webpage for each chapter from the Meade textbook. Complete these quizzes before class for each period with a reading from the Meade textbook.

Proof of reading exercises. For each class period with a reading from either Grandin or McPherson, by 8 a.m. post to the Blackboard discussion board a one-paragraph summary of the readings for that day. These posts can contain comments, questions, and reactions, including to posts from your classmates.

Comprehension exercises. Every class period will close with a short quiz over the material we have covered that day.

Final Exam. The final exam will be cumulative and comprehensive.

Class Schedule

Week 1: Intro & Geography
            Tues, Aug 24: Meade, ch. 1
            Thurs, Aug 26: Grandin, Intro; McPherson, Intro

Week 2: Colonial background
            Tues, Aug 31: Meade, ch. 2
            Thurs, Sept 2: Meade, ch. 3

Week 3: Caudillos
            Tues, Sept 7: Meade, ch. 4
            Thurs, Sept 9: Grandin, ch. 1; McPherson, ch. 1

Week 4: Neocolonialism
            Tues, Sept 14: Meade, ch. 5
            Thurs, Sept 16: Grandin, ch. 2; McPherson, ch. 2

Week 5: Caste Wars
            Tues, Sept 21: Meade, ch. 6
            Thurs, Sept 23: McPherson, ch. 3

Week 6: Mexican Revolution
            Tues, Sept 28: Meade, ch. 7
            Thurs, Sept 30: McPherson, ch. 4

Week 7: Socialism
            Tues, Oct 5: Meade, ch. 8
            Thurs, Oct 7: Grandin, ch. 3; McPherson, chs. 5-6

Week 8: Populism
            Tues, Oct 12: Meade, ch. 9

Week 9: Dictators
            Tues, Oct 19: Meade, ch. 10
            Thurs, Oct 21: Grandin, ch. 4; McPherson, ch. 7

Week 10: Cuban Revolution
            Tues, Oct 26: Meade, ch. 11
            Thurs, Oct 28: McPherson, ch. 8

Week 11: Chilean Path to Socialism
            Tues, Nov 2: Meade, ch. 12
            Thurs, Nov 4: Grandin, ch. 5

Week 12: Sandinistas
            Tues, Nov 9: Meade, ch. 13
            Thurs, Nov 11: Grandin, chs. 6-7

Week 13: Pink Tide Governments
            Tues, Nov 16: Meade, ch. 14
            Thurs, Nov 18: McPherson, ch. 9; Grandin, ch. 8

Week 14: Conservative Restoration
            Tues, Nov 30: Meade, ch. 15
            Thurs, Dec 2: Grandin, chs. 9-11

Week 15: Wrap up/Review. Where do we go from here?
            Tues, Dec 7: Grandin, chs. 12-14
            Thurs, Dec 9: Grandin, ch. 15-epilogue; McPherson, conc

Final Exam: Thursday Dec. 16, 7:30-9:20 a.m.

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