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download pdfWomen in Latin American History (HIST 369)

Spring 2017, Truman State University
BT 2224, MWF 1:30-2:20   
Office: MC 227

Marc Becker
Office Hours: typically MWF 12:30-1:15 & W 4-5:30
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.

Following are the required books for this class. Several additional articles will also 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.

Murray, Pamela S., ed. Women and Gender in Modern Latin America: Historical sources and interpretations. New York: Routledge, 2014.
O'Connor, Erin. Mothers Making Latin America: gender, households, and politics since 1825. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2014. ISBN: 9781118271445
Socolow, Susan Migden. The Women of Colonial Latin America. 2d ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. 9780521148825

Assignments and grades
Course grades will be based on the following assignments. 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). 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. You are free to submit assignments electronically, but I will not acknowledge receipt nor provide feedback on such submissions. You may verify receipt and grade on Blackboard. Successful completion of all assignments is required to receive credit for this class.

Assignment                                                                                         Points
Response papers                                                                    500 pts
Participation                                                                           100
Research paper                                                                       200
Final Exam                                                                              200

Response papers: Prepare a one-page typed response to each day’s reading. Identify the author’s main arguments, and examine the use of sources, methodology, and theory. Provide your own assessment or critique of the readings. In writing your essays:

  • Identify one main point in the reading that strikes you as most interesting or important
  • Don’t just summarize the contents—exploring significance is more important
  • Be sure to engage the entire reading
  • Acknowledge authorship, especially since I want you to engage the authors’ main arguments and the evidence that they use, their use of sources, methodology, and theory
  • Be sure to provide your own assessment or critique of the readings.

Discussion questions: For each class period post one question or discussion topic related to the readings to the class google drive ( If a document for that reading does not already exist, please create a new one. If someone else has already raised the theme you planned to post, it is perfectly fine to expand on that post. Please clearly label your contribution with your name.

Discussion leaders: For each class period, one student will sign up on the class google drive ( to lead the discussion (organize the discussion questions into a logical flow) and another to moderate discussion (run stack) to assure that everyone has equal space to speak.

Participation: This is a discussion-based class. Exchange of ideas, personal thoughts, arguments, and perspectives is the central benefit of the class format. We are not here to impress one another, but to engage in an honest dialogue about crucial issues. Please be mindful that we may not all have the same level of expertise, and that everyone's unique perspectives are of equal importance. We need to respect one another while challenging alternative perspectives. As you cannot participate in discussion if you are not present, unexcused absences will be taken out of your participation grade. Inappropriate use of electronics during class will also negatively affect the participation grade. Discussion will be graded at the end of the semester based on the following criteria:

  • Depth and content: participation beyond mere opinions; keeping discussion open for further development; ask yourself: can peers respond to my comments?
  • Consistency: daily engaged involvement; paying attention to the comments of others
  • Leadership: encouraging peers to participate; being prepared to discuss that day’s readings (and how they relate to those of previous class periods)
  • References: to readings, experiences, and/or past discussions

Research paper: Each student is required to write a research paper on a topic related to women in Latin American history. The paper must use a minimum of six scholarly sources (books and journal articles) and one primary source, and should be 15-20 pages long, typed, double-spaced, and include page numbers, citations and a bibliography. The format should follow Mary Lynn Rampolla, A pocket guide to writing in history 8th ed. (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2015).

Final exam:  The final exam is comprehensive and cumulative.

Class Schedule

Jan 18: Intro
Jan 20: Bakewell, Peter. "Colonial Latin America." In Latin America, Its Problems and Its Promise: A multidisciplinary introduction, edited by Jan Knippers Black, 77-85. Boulder Colo.: Westview Press, 2011.
Conniff, Michael. "Latin America Since Independence: An Overview." In Latin America, Its Problems and Its Promise: A multidisciplinary introduction, edited by Jan Knippers Black, 86-98. Boulder Colo.: Westview Press, 2011.

Jan 23: Socolow, intro & ch. 1
Jan 25: Socolow, ch. 2
Jan 27: WGST conference

Jan 30: Reports on WGST conference
Feb 1: Socolow, ch. 3
Feb 3: Socolow, ch. 4

Feb 6: Socolow, ch. 5
Feb 8: Socolow, ch. 6
Feb 10: Work on final projects

Feb 13: Socolow, ch. 7
Feb 15: Socolow, ch. 8
Feb 17: Socolow, ch. 9

Feb 20: Socolow, ch. 10
Feb 22: Socolow, ch. 11 & conc
Feb 24: O'Connor, ch. 1

Feb 27: O'Connor, ch. 2
March 1: Murray, intro & ch. 1
March 3: O'Connor, ch. 3

March 6: Murray, ch. 2
March 8: O'Connor, ch. 4
March 10: Murray, ch. 3

March 20: O'Connor, ch. 5
March 22: Murray, ch. 4
March 24: O'Connor, ch. 6

March 27:  Murray, ch. 5
March 29: O'Connor, ch. 7
March 31: Murray, ch. 6

April 3: O'Connor, ch. 8
April 5: Murray, ch. 7
April 7: O'Connor, ch. 9

April 10: Murray, ch. 8
April 12: O'Connor, ch. 10
April 14: Murray, ch. 9

April 19: Presentations
April 21: Presentations

April 24: Presentations
April 26: Presentations
April 28: Work on final projects

May 1: Work on final projects
May 3: Presentations
May 5: Presentations

Final Exam: Tuesday, May 9, 1:30-3:20

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