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download pdfWomen in Latin American History (HIST 365.02)

Spring 2008, Truman State University
MC 209, TR 3:00-4:20
Office: KB 225A

Marc Becker
Office Hours: W 1:30-3:30
Phone: x6036


This course assesses the continuities and changes in the lives of Latin American women through the lens of gender. We will examine concepts that have structured Latin American beliefs about gender including of honor and shame, and machismo and marianismo, and examine issues of gender relations, sexuality, and political involvement. How do beliefs about gender and gender roles relate to social structures including race, class and political structures, and how have these beliefs changed over time? By the end of the course students should have a clearer understanding of how gender influences historical change and historical continuity in Latin America.

This course also meets the Intercultural Perspectives requirement of the Liberal Studies Program. As such, it will provide you with a greater knowledge and appreciation of cultural diversity through the study of encounters of Indigenous, European, and African women in Latin America. Hopefully this course will make you more aware of how culture has been used for political and social ends, including confronting sexism, racial discrimination, economic exploitation, and social injustice.


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. We may add additional readings as necessary. Read the assignments before class so that you are prepared to carry on an intelligent discussion of the material in class.

Kellogg, Susan. Weaving the Past: A history of Latin America's indigenous women from the prehispanic period to the present. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN: 0195183282

Socolow, Susan Migden. The Women of Colonial Latin America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. ISBN: 0521476429

Speed, Shannon, Rosalva Aída Hernández Castillo, and Lynn Stephen. Dissident Women: Gender and cultural politics in Chiapas. Austin, Tex: University of Texas Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780292714403

Yeager, Gertrude Matyoka, ed. Confronting Change, Challenging Tradition: Women in Latin American history. Wilmington, Del: Scholarly Resources, 1994. ISBN: 0842024808

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
Response papers (15 x 30 pts ea) 450 pts
Research paper proposal (Feb 5) 50
Secondary source analysis (Feb 19) 100
Primary source analysis (March 4) 100
Research paper (May 1) 200
Participation 100

Response papers: Prepare a one-page written response to each week's set of readings. Briefly state the authors' main arguments and the evidence that they use. Examine the use of sources, methodology, and theory. Provide your own assessment or critique of the readings. The essays must be typed, double spaced, and include citations (30 pts ea.).

Research paper: Each student is required to write a research paper on a topic related to women in Latin American history. The paper must be 10 to 15 pages long, be typed, double spaced, and include page numbers, citations and a bibliography. The format should follow Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations. In addition, you must use a minimum of six scholarly sources (books and journal articles) and one primary source. This project will be developed in a series of stages. Keep each of these assignments in a portfolio or folder, and hand in the entire portfolio with each subsequent assignment. Not meeting these deadlines makes your instructor VERY grumpy.

Feb 5: Research paper proposal, including a paragraph describing your project, the research questions you seek to address with the project, a hypothesis of what you expect to find (the thesis statement of your research paper), and a preliminary bibliography of sources that you plan to use (50 pts).

Feb 19: Analyze one of the major secondary sources you will use in the writing of your research paper. This paper should be typed, double-spaced, and about 3 pages long, and include citations a bibliography, and page numbers (100 pts).

March 4: Select a primary source from the Latin American history microfilm collection ( Try to find something that relates as closely as possible to your research topic. Have me approve the source, and then write a paper (typed, double-spaced, about 3 pages, with citations, bibliography, page numbers) analyzing the document and its historical significance for your research topic. Attach a copy of the document to the essay (100 pts).

Beginning March 18: 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. Naturally those who present earlier will have more tentative conclusions than those who present at the end of the semester. Please feel free to include visuals and other materials in your presentation.

April 22: Peer review of research papers. Bring a draft of your research paper to exchange with another student. Read and comment on the other student's paper and return by the next class period.

May 1: Final research papers due. When handing in your final draft, please be sure to include copies of all of the previous assignments including the peer-reviewed draft.

Women's history month: Truman's Thirteenth Annual Conference in honor of Women's History Month will take place March 27-29. Attend at least one of the panels and report back on it to class. I also encourage you to consider presenting at the conference, possibly even an early version of the resource paper for this class. I would warmly entertain the idea of small group or even a class presentation at this conference. See the call for papers on the last page of this syllabus.

Class Schedule

Week 1 (Jan 15/17) Intro & Theory
Read: Joan W. Scott, "Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis," American Historical Review 91, no. 5 (December 1986): 1053-75.
Socolow, Women of Colonial Latin America, Introduction
Yeager, Confronting Change, Challenging Tradition, Intro & chs. 1-2
Kellogg, Weaving the Past, ch. 1

Week 2 (Jan 22/24) Mama Ocllo (Indigenous America)
Read: Socolow, Women of Colonial Latin America, chs. 1-2
Kellogg, Weaving the Past, ch. 2

Week 3 (Jan 29/31) Malintzin (Conquests)
Read: Socolow, Women of Colonial Latin America, ch. 3
Kellogg, Weaving the Past, ch. 3
Thursday, Jan 31: Meet in the library classroom, Pickler 103.

Week 4 (Feb 5/7) Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (Religion)
Read: Socolow, Women of Colonial Latin America, chs. 4-7
Assignment due: Research paper proposal
Film I, The Worst of All

Week 5 (Feb 12/14) Xiça da Silva (Slavery)
Read: Socolow, Women of Colonial Latin America, chs. 8-9
Film Xiça

Week 6 (Feb 19/21) Micaela Bastidas (Resistance)
Read: Socolow, Women of Colonial Latin America, ch. 10
Film Woman of Courage
Assignment due: Secondary source analysis

Week 7 (Feb 26/28) Manuela Sáenz (Independence)
Read: Socolow, Women of Colonial Latin America, ch. 11

Week 8 (March 4/6) Camila (Liberalism)
Read: Yeager, Confronting Change, Challenging Tradition, chs. 3-4, 8-9
Film Camila
Assignment due: Primary source analysis

Week 9 (March 18/20) Adelita (Mexican Revolution)
Read: Yeager, Confronting Change, Challenging Tradition, ch. 5
Kellogg, Weaving the Past, ch. 4

Week 10 (March 25/27) Dolores Cacuango (peasant women)
Read: Yeager, Confronting Change, Challenging Tradition, chs. 12-13
Kellogg, Weaving the Past, chs. 5-6

Week 11 (April 1/3) Frida (Culture)
Read: Yeager, Confronting Change, Challenging Tradition, ch. 14
Assignment due: Begin oral presentations of research papers
Film Frida

Week 12 (April 8/10) Evita (Populism)
Read: Yeager, Confronting Change, Challenging Tradition, 6-7, 10-11
Marta Savigliano, "Evita: The Globalization of a national Myth," Latin American Perspectives 24, no.6 (97): 156-72
Film Evita

Week 13 (April 15/17) Hebe de Bonafini (Revolutionary Motherhood)
Read: Yeager, Confronting Change, Challenging Tradition, chs. 15-18
Film The Official Story

Week 14 (April 22/24) María Elena Moyano (Revolutionary violence)
Read: Yeager, Confronting Change, Challenging Tradition, chs. 19-20
Assignment due: Peer review of research papers
Film Courage

Week 15 (April 29/May 1) Comandanta Ramona (Zapatistas)
Read: Speed/Hernández Castillo/Stephen, Dissident Women
Assignment due: Research papers
Film The Sixth Sun: Maya Uprising In Chiapas

Final Exam: Thursday, May 8, 11:30-12:20


Truman's Thirteenth Annual Conference
in honor of
Women's History Month
March 27-28-29, 2008

(Sponsored by the Women's and Gender Studies Committee)

Third-wave feminists, post-colonial critics, queer theorists, and disabilities activists (among others) have taught us that no single identity affiliation we claim, or classification imposed upon us by others, can begin to describe our position in the social matrix. Gender is shaped by race, class, sexual orientation, nation of origin, religion, and so on, just as each of these affiliations is shaped by gender and all of one's other identity categories. Intersections created by crossing borders may be especially fraught: e.g., crossing the order into old age, disability, a country that doesn't want you, a new gender.

Possible topics may include but need not be limited to

--personal testimonies by women and men who have experienced the intersection of two or more salient identity categories, or have crossed a significant border;

--literary criticism that engages writers who foreground intersections or border crossings in their works (e.g., Maria Lugones, Audre Lorde, Maxine Hong Kingston, Eli Clare, and many others);

--a feminist or post-colonial or queer or disabilities theory approach to the sites of intersection within a particular institution (e.g., college basketball, say, or GLBT activist organizations, or the college classroom);

--a look at the border-crossings within or intersections between particular academic disciplines, especially with respect to how the discipline(s) might participate in maintaining and/or subverting traditional gender roles and relationships;

--an analysis of intersectionality in politics (e.g., Why do people love Barack Obama? or Why has immigration become a hot topic?);

--an exploration of the ways in which life outcomes for men and women are strongly shaped by class and race (e.g., working-class black men are disproportionately incarcerated).

The Women's and Gender Studies Committee invites abstracts from all members of the Truman and Kirksville communities, including Truman graduates now residing elsewhere. Internationalist points of view are especially welcome. Please send abstracts to Linda Seidel, Department of English, Truman State University, Kirksville, MO 63501 or Include a return address, phone number, and e-mail address (if you have one). Deadline: January 30, 2008.

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