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download pdfLatin America Revolutions (HIST 4996)
Research Seminar

“In this part of the world the possibility is almost totally gone
for there to be a peaceful transition to socialism.”
- Ernesto “Che” Guevara (1963)

Spring 2022, Truman State University
BH219, MWF 11:30-12:20

Marc Becker


This course fulfills the research requirement in the history major through a critical comparative analysis of twentieth-century revolutionary theories and movements in Latin America. It culminates with each student writing an article-length research paper based primarily on primary sources and subject to rigorous scholarly and professional standards.

The course is divided into the 3 tasks common to history research projects: reading deeply in the secondary literature, research into primary document sources on a chosen topic, and then writing about what you have learned from your reading and research. The class will culminate with presentations on your research findings.

See the syllabus addendums on Blackboard for additional class policies.

There is one assigned text for this class:

Becker, Marc. Contemporary Latin American Revolutions. 2d edition. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2022. ISBN: 9781538163733

Assignments and grades

Assignment                                                                                         Points
Daily discussion posts (1pt each)                                           10
Participation (1pt each)                                                          10
Secondary source analysis                                                      10
Annotated bibliography/ Zotero                                             5
Primary sources (3pts each)                                                   15
Peer review                                                                             10
Final paper                                                                              40

You can check your grade progress on the class Blackboard web page. Grades are calculated out of a total of 100 possible points, and not the percentage of completed assignments as displayed in Blackboard. At least 90 points are necessary for an A, 80 for a B, 70 for a C, and 60 for a D. Fewer than 60 points is an F. Successful completion of all assignments is required to receive credit for this class.

Discussion posts: By 9a.m. for each daily reading during the first part of the class, post one question or discussion topic related to the readings to the discussion board on Blackboard. 1pt each, 10pts total.

Discussion leaders: Each student will briefly present on one case study of a Latin American revolution (see below) and lead discussion of that topic. This will include organizing the responses to the reading on the blackboard discussion board into a logical flow and leading the discussion of the chapter in class. Another student moderate discussion (run stack—we will give more instructions in class, so don’t worry about this right now) and mark off student contributions on the participation spreadsheet.

Participation: Participate substantively to class discussion during the first reading in the secondary literature part of the class. 1pt each, 10pts total.

Secondary source analysis: Analyze a scholarly book included in the list of sources for one of chapters from the Contemporary Latin American Revolutions text for which you have signed up to lead discussion (see above). Write a 3-page essay summarizing the book’s contents and critiquing the author’s assumptions. The essay must be typed, double-spaced, and include citations and page numbers. This paper should be typed, double-spaced, and about 3 pages long, and include citations a bibliography, and page numbers. Briefly present your findings from the book at the beginning of the class period during which we discuss that revolutionary movement. 10 pts.

Research paper proposal: Draft a research paper proposal, including a paragraph describing your project, the research questions you seek to address with the project, and a hypothesis of what you expect to find (the thesis statement of your research paper). Present the proposal to the class on Wednesday, February 9. The proposal is required to continue with the class.

Annotated bibliography: Using Zotero, prepare an annotated bibliography for your paper (details and instructions to follow). 5pts.

Primary source analysis: Select 3 primary sources related to your research topic, write an analysis of each one, and present your findings to the class. One source should be from a newspaper (due Mon, Feb 14), a second should be from either the U.S. or a Latin American government (due Wed, Feb 16), and a third should represent the perspective of a revolutionary movement (due Fri, Feb 18). At least one of the sources must come from the microfilm collection ( 5pts each, 15pts total.

Outline: Write a first introduction and an outline to your paper. In the tentative introduction, state the paper’s topic, the problem that it addresses, its relation to existing work, and its argument. Outline in a manner you find efficient. Prepare a brief presentation about the progress of your research to the class.

Peer Review: Finish and turn in a final draft of your paper along with one for each of two peers. This full draft should, with the exception of an occasional flaw in structure and slip in formulation, read and look like a finished paper. Peer review two papers (one for content and the other for grammar). 10pts.

Oral presentations: In your presentation, tell us what questions you addressed in your research project, what you expected to find (your thesis), a summary of your actual findings, and your conclusions.

Final paper: The final paper should be at about 20 pages in length. The paper should rest on primary sources and be framed in terms of the historiography on the topic (typically presented at the beginning of the paper). The essay must include footnotes or endnotes and bibliography and the style must conform to that found in Turabian/Rampolla/Chicago Manual of Style. Papers submitted without page numbers will be docked half a letter grade. Due in class at the time of the final exam on Monday, May 2, 11:30.

Class Schedule

Jan 19: Intro
Jan 12: Theory
            Read: Becker, ch. 1 (“Theories of Revolution”)
Jan 14: Mexico
            Read: Becker, ch. 2 (“Mexican Revolution, 1910–1920”)

Jan 19: Guatemala
            Read: Becker, ch. 3 (“Guatemalan Spring, 1944–1954”)
Jan 21: Bolivia
            Read: Becker, ch. 4 (“Bolivia’s Nationalist Revolution, 1952–1964”)

Jan 24: Cuba
            Read: Becker, ch. 5 (“Cuban Revolution, 1959–”)
Jan 26: Chile
            Read: Becker, ch. 6 (“Chilean Road to Socialism, 1970–1973”)
Jan 28: Nicaragua
            Read: Becker, ch. 7 (“Sandinistas in Nicaragua, 1979–1990”)

Jan 31: Guerrillas
            Read: Becker, ch. 8 (“Guerrilla Warfare”)
Feb 2: Venezuela
            Read: Becker, ch. 9 (“Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, 1999–”)
Feb 4: Pink Tides
            Read: Becker, ch. 10 (“Socialisms of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries”)

Feb 7: Library intro/Zotero (meet in PML 103)
Feb 9: Proposals
Feb 11: Microfilm (meet in PML 103)

Feb 14: Newspaper primary source
Feb 16: Government primary source
Feb 18: Movement primary source

Individual meetings for research paper (dates to be set)

We will also schedule class meetings to discuss the outlines, peer reviews, and oral presentations.

Final exam: Monday, May 2, 11:30-12:20

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