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download pdfWomen in Latin American History (HIST 369):
The “Great Women” Approach

Spring 2013, Truman State University
BH349, MWF 1:30-2:20   
Office: MC 227

Marc Becker
Office Hours: MW 2:30-3:20
Phone: x6036

This course assesses the continuities and changes in the lives of Latin American women from the peopling of the continent to the present. 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 changes and continuity in Latin America.
This course 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.

Reading for each week's topic will be posted to Blackboard. Read the assignments before class so that you are prepared to carry on an intelligent discussion of the material in class.

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 or papers submitted without the physical presence of the student. 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 (14 x 20 pts ea)                                          280 pts
Presentation                                                                            200
Historiographic paper                                                             200
Post presentation writing                                                       20
Final exam                                                                               200
Participation                                                                           100

Response papers: Prepare a one-page written response to each week’s 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 are due each Friday for that week's readings, and must be typed, double-spaced, and include citations.

Presentation and historiographic paper: Groups of two will present on one of each week's topics and write a ten-page historiographic paper on that topic. As part of the presentation, in consultation with me select a primary source document for the entire class to read. This primary source should be an artifact (a letter, document, poem, image, etc.) from the period under discussion, and typically will be one-page in length. Have me approve the source in time to post to Blackboard the week before we will discuss the topic. Primary source documents can be found in our microfilm collection; see
            On the Friday of each week, the small group will begin with a ten-minute presentation on the material to the class followed by a discussion of the readings. Prepare a list of discussion questions for the class to guide the discussion.
            Also on Friday of the week of your selected topic, submit a ten-page collaboratively written historiographic paper drawing on six sources (including at least one book for each presenter) related to the topic for that week, comparing the approaches, use of sources, and arguments in each source. The essays must be typed, double spaced, and include citations and page numbers. The library has a guide for locating sources for this assignment at

Post presentation writing: On the Monday after your presentation, submit a one-page evaluation/critique of your presentation, indicating what went well and what could have been improved.

Participation: The participation grade is not based on attendance (although this is expected and required), but on an active engagement with the material and classroom discussions. If you are looking for a passive or “garb-garb” (garbage in, garbage out) learning experience, this is perhaps not the class for you. My hope is that all of us will be richly rewarded with an active engagement with the material and concepts.

Final exam:  The final exam is comprehensive and cumulative.

Class Schedule

Week 1 (Jan 14/16/18)            Intro & Theory
Read   Joan W. Scott, "Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis," The American Historical Review 91, no. 5 (December 1986): 1053-75.
Sandra McGee Deutsch, "Gender and Sociopolitical Change in Twentieth-Century Latin America," Hispanic American Historical Review 71, no. 2 (May 1991): 259-306.
Heidi Tinsman, "A Paradigm of Our Own: Joan Scott in Latin American History," The American Historical Review 113, no. 5 (December 2008): 1357-74.

Week 2 (Jan 23/25)     Mama Ocllo (Indigenous America)
Read   Irene Silverblatt, "Andean Women in the Inca Empire," Feminist Studies 4, no. 3 (October 1978): 36-61.

Week 3 (Jan 28/30)     Malintzin (Conquests)
Film    The Buried Mirror, pt. 2: Conflict of the gods (DP96 F839 1991 pt.2)
Friday, Feb 1: Required attendance at Women and Gender Studies Conference
Read   Pilar Godayol, "Malintzin/La Malinche/Dona Marina: re-reading the myth of the treacherous translator," Journal of Iberian Latin American Studies 18, no. 1 (April 2012): 61-76.
Sandra Messinger Cypess, "'Mother,' Malinche, and allegories of gender, ethnicity and national identity in Mexico," in Feminism, Nation and Myth: La Malinche, ed. Rolando Romero and Amanda Nolacea Harris, ed. (Houston, Tex.: Arte Público Press, 2005), 14-27.

Week 4 (Feb 4/6/8)      Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (Religion)
Film    I, The Worst of All (PN1995.9.F6718 Y63 2003)
Read   Michelle A. Gonzalez, “Background” and “Gender,” Sor Juana: Beauty and justice in the Americas (Maryknoll, N.Y: Orbis Books, 2003), 27-37, 95-113.

Week 5 (Feb 11/13/15)            Xiça da Silva (Slavery)
Film    Xiça (PN1995.9 F67169 X5 1993)
Film    Susan Migden Socolow, “Women and Slavery,” The Women of Colonial Latin America, New approaches to the Americas (Cambridge, UK, New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 130-46.

Week 6 (Feb 18/20/22)            Micaela Bastidas (Resistance)
Film    Woman of Courage (PN1997 .Q25 1993)
Read   Leon G. Campbell, "Women and the Great Rebellion in Peru, 1780-1783," The Americas 42, no. 2 (October 1985): 163-96.

Week 7 (Feb 25/27/March 1)  Manuela Sáenz (Independence)
Film    Manuela Sáenz
Read   Sarah C. Chambers, "Republican Friendship: Manuela Sáenz Writes Women into the Nation, 1835-1856," Hispanic American Historical Review 81, no. 2 (May 2001): 225-57.

Week 8 (March 4/6/8) Adelita (Mexican Revolution)
Film    Like Water for Chocolate (PN1995.9.F6718 C65 2000)
Read   Tabea Alexa Linhard, “Adelita’s Death,” Fearless Women in the Mexican Revolution and the Spanish Civil War (Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 2005), 91-116.
Elizabeth Salas, “We, the Women,” Soldaderas in the Mexican Military: Myth and history (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990), 67-81.

Week 9 (March 18/20/22)       Frida (Indigenismo)
Film    Frida (ND259.K33 F73 2004)
Read   Margaret A Lindauer, “Unveiling Politics,” Devouring Frida: The art history and popular celebrity of Frida Kahlo (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1999), 114-149.

Week 10 (March 25/27/29)     Evita (Populism)
Film    Evita (F2849.P37 E9 1998)
Read   Linda B. Hall, "Evita Perón: beauty, resonance, and heroism," in Heroes & Hero Cults in Latin America, ed. Samuel Brunk and Ben Fallaw (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006), 229-63.

Week 11 (April 3/5)    Che’s wives (Guerrilla wives)
Film    El Che (F1787.5 .G83132 2009)
Read   John A. Gronbeck-Tedesco, "Memories of Che: Forging a Postmodern Radicalism in Cultural Studies?" Studies in Latin American Popular Culture 29 (2011): 24-39.

Week 12 (April 8/10/12)         Hebe de Bonafini (Revolutionary Motherhood)
Film    The Official Story (PN1995.9.F6718 H57 1998); Americas, pt. 5: In women's hands (F1408 .A617 1993 pt.5)
Read   Marguerite Guzman Bouvard, “Socializing Maternity,” Revolutionizing Motherhood: The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (Wilmington, Del: Scholarly Resources Inc, 1994), 175-193.
Diana Taylor, "Making a Spectacle: The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo," Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering 3, no. 2 (Fall/Winter 2001): 97-109.

Week 13 (April 15/17/19)       Edith Lagos (Revolutionary violence)
Film    Courage (HQ1236.5.P47 C68 1998); Americas, pt. 9: Fire in the mind (F1408 .A617 1993 pt.9)
Read   Carol Andreas, "Women at War," NACLA Report on the Americas 24, no. 4 (December 1990-January 1991): 20-27+.
Jaymie Patricia Heilman, "Family Ties: The Political Genealogy of Shining Path's Comrade Norah," Bulletin of Latin American Research 29, no. 2 (April 2010): 155-69.

Week 14 (April 22/24/26)       Rigoberta Menchú (Indigenous women)
            Film    Rigoberta Menchu: Broken silence (F1466.5 .R53 1993)
Read   Diane M. Nelson, “Gendering the Ethnic-National Question: Rigoberta Menchú Jokes and the Out-Skirts of Fashioning Identity,” A Finger in the Wound: Body Politics in Quincentennial Guatemala (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1999), 170-205.

Week 15 (April 29/May 1/3)  Michelle Bachelet and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Las Presidentas)
Film    South of the Border (JL1860 .S68 2010)
Read   Marcela Ríos Tobar, "Feminist Politics in Contemporary Chile: From the democratic transition to Bachelet," in Feminist Agendas and Democracy in Latin America, ed. Jane S. Jaquette (Durham N.C.: Duke University Press, 2009), 21-44.

Final Exam: Tuesday, May 7, 1:30-3:20

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