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Suny-Institute of Technology ☼ Fall Semester 2005
Introduction to Latin American Civilizations
Professor: Dr. Kristina A. Boylan E-mail: email@example.com
Tel: (315) 792-7325 Web: http://people.sunyit.edu/~boylank/
To understand and relate to Latin America’s existing nation-states, societies and cultures – which is increasingly in demand in US business, education, health, government and other professions – one must look well back from the immediate present. In this class we will examine Latin America’s colonial legacy – the results of the confrontation of Spanish, Portuguese and other European colonizers with millennia-old indigenous populations, forced migrations of Africans, and other immigrant populations, not to mention the new, racially and culturally mixed populations that came into being. Contemporary political alliances, economic phenomena, race relations, gender relations, and intellectual and spiritual movements in Latin America have deep roots in the pre-Columbian and colonial past.
However, the processes of independence, some rapid and some prolonged over the 19th and even 20th and 21st centuries, altered the dynamics of Latin American society profoundly. We will examine the repercussions of the independence movements, 19th century democracies, monarchies, dictatorships and reform movements. Industrialization in the 19th and 20th centuries brought drastic consequences, among them demographic changes, social upheaval and revolutions, and environmental degredation. Outside intervention, particularly from Britain, France, and the United States, has contributed significantly to the history of independent Latin America. We will examine both startling changes and exasperating continuities in race, class, gender, and other social roles, and in economic and political developments.
In this course we will work with primary and secondary sources in order to enable you to form your own impressions about Latin America's past. Your goal should be to have a basic working knowledge of the narrative of the period covered by this course (1450-2005, roughly). You should also acquire some familiarity with the issues concerning interpretation of primary sources used to reconstruct the history we are studying, and come to understand some of the issues and perspectives that scholars working on this subject matter confront today.
These books are on sale at the bookstore and can also be purchased, new or used, online. I have put copies of the textbooks on reserve at the library. I strongly recommend that you obtain your own copies, as they will be used extensively throughout the course.
Your grade in the course is based on the following. It is your responsibility to keep track of your grades — you should keep all graded assignments on file at least until you receive your final grade. You may find it useful to record your progress here as the semester progresses (letter/number — take the midpoint number from the grading scale on my website to estimate):
Critical film review: (due 27 Sept. or 22 Nov. ) (15%) ______/______
Colonial Era and Independence exam (13 Oct.) (15%) ______/______
Other opportunities as announced: ______/______
A PDF copy of this syllabus is available on my website under “Current Courses,” so you can always check our reading and test schedule and assignment descriptions. From time to time I may post additional materials (e.g., blank copies of practice maps, class handouts, assignment details and rubrics, lists of journal entries) to the website; I will announce their availability in class.
Occasionally, I will use the MySUNYIT web page for reinforcement of classroom announcements. For this to work, you MUST activate your SUNY-IT e-mail account, as this is the e-mail address used for group announcements. I will not send copies of general announcements or reminders to external e-mail accounts. If you wish to receive your e-mail through another address (Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc.), you must arrange to have messages forwarded from your SUNYIT account. This is not hard — you can set up both your e-mail account and automatic forwarding from the MySUNYIT page. If you experience difficulty doing this, contact me or Information Technology Services for assistance.
Class procedure and participation:
Active participation in class activities and discussions and preparation for them is required of all students. You are expected to come to each class having done the readings listed for the day and having thought carefully about them. Your goal should not be to talk as much as possible or regurgitate facts easily figured out from the reading. Rather, you should aim to ask critical questions regarding the readings and other materials and to bring your insights to the attention of your peers and your instructor. Remember, though this material may be new to you, you also bring a new background, point of view, and intellect to it – so share your thoughts!
You should bring your books, copies of the readings for the day, and/or really good notes to each class meeting, as we will use the materials you have reviewed in many class activities. Additional structured discussions or group activities, film clips, slides, music, and literature will be used and additional material (articles, websites) may be recommended to you for further reading.
I will not take attendance per se, but given the essential nature of class discussions, the in-class journal, quizzes, and other activities, you are advised to strive for regular attendance. It is YOUR responsibility to make up for any missed work, should you miss a class. I will keep track of students’ participation throughout the semester, and will evaluate it for points toward your final grade (see “Grading Scale” on my website for details).
The in-class journal (15% of your final grade):
Most classes will begin with a journal activity. This can consist of 10-15 minutes of individual writing or a group brainstorming topic relevant to the class reading assignment in the Course Schedule, or a quiz on reading material or material recently covered in class. Aside from the first journal activity, which I will collect and file, YOU are responsible for filing and retaining the writings from each class period. Please use a binder, folder, notebook, or sheets of paper, etc. separate from what you will use to take notes during class and be sure to write the topic and the class date clearly at the beginning of each entry. Then: set down your observations from the readings and the insights, questions, and comments that you can develop on the topic; take notes that will help your group present the information required of you; answer the questions on the quiz; and so on.
This initial writing/quizzing will serve several purposes. First, it will help you get your thoughts together in order to better contribute to the class discussion or activity at hand, which we will begin by addressing the issues raised by the journal or quiz content. Second, this will serve as an indicator for you and for me of how critically you are reading the materials assigned for the class and how useful they are as a whole.
On Tuesday, 6 Dec., you will submit your in-class journal writings and quizzes (in that folder, binder, notebook, etc., or otherwise reasonably held together entity). Each journal activity will be worth 5 points each; there are 27 class meetings; so with some exceptions for full-class activities, I anticipate having 20 entries. I will distribute a list of the journal topics toward the end of the semester to help you prepare your journal. If you have missed a class and thus a journal activity, please contact me to discuss making up the activity (for an individual writing piece, asking another student is fine, insert the entry into your journal as a make-up; but for a group activity, we will have to devise an alternative). Make-up quizzes and alternate assignments will be given at my discretion.
Please note: for the individual and group brainstorming, you will NOT be graded on writing style, grammar, spelling, citations, or more than minimal coherence. You can jot down words, phrases, incomplete sentences, draw pictures or diagrams – this is your opportunity to be creative, brainstorm, and experiment. However, you must produce something relevant to the question at hand in each entry to be awarded the full 5 points. I will grade and return some quizzes, while we will review others together in class.
If for some reason (e.g. a university-recognized learning disability) you feel that you cannot produce writing, however informal, on demand like this, please speak with me privately so that we can arrange an alternative.
Tests And Quizzes:
Tests (30% of your final grade, @ 15%)
Film and Reading Quizzes (15% of your final grade; highest 3 out of 4 scores)
The quizzes will be graded on a 0-5 scale; I will take the three highest scores as part of your final grade. In the unfortunate circumstance that the reading assignments need to be monitored more strictly, I will give more quizzes, drop the lowest grade, and calculate the rest to contribute 15% to your final grade. Also, don’t forget to save these papers and file them in your journals.
Prepared Writing Assignment Requirements (40% of your final grade):
A Note on Prepared Writing Assignments in General:
Good, documented writing is what being a scholar is all about. For all writing assignments prepared outside of class you MUST document all information that is not your original thought, interpretation, analysis, or synthesis. This includes both direct quotes (phrases or sentences taken from another source, surrounded by quotation marks: “blah blah blah”) and paraphrases (rewordings and summaries of ideas or analyses that are not yours).
You may choose the system of citation you would like to use (Modern Language Association, American Psychological Association, University of Chicago/Turabian, etc. — while grading, I will follow the examples in Gordon Harvey’s Writing with Sources) as long as you are CONSISTENT and THOROUGH. All papers should utilize footnotes, endnotes, or citations within the text, and should include a works cited list (a.k.a. bibliography) at the end. Any paper handed in without some form of in-text citations and works cited list will receive no higher grade than a D, regardless of the quality of the writing.
Plagiarism—passing off someone else's work as your own—is not just a violation of academic integrity or basic ethics—it is a crime. The SUNY-IT Student Handbook, available in print and online (http://web.sunyit.edu/pdf_files/student_handbook04-05.pdf), states clearly that the instructor may assess a reasonable penalty for plagiarism and other violations of the Code of Academic Conduct (pp. 17 and ff.). Reasonable penalties can include failure for the assignment, the permanent placement of a letter describing the incident in your file, or even failure for the course (note: students may challenge these decisions before the Academic Conduct Board). To be clear, my procedure for dealing with violations of academic integrity is as follows:
But please do not despair — proper documentation (like ethical conduct in general) is not hard to do, and strengthens your writing! Guides for different systems can be found in the SUNY-IT library at the reference desk, and are also available online at the Learning Center’s website (http://web.sunyit.edu/learning_center/). We’ll discuss documentation issues in class, too. I encourage you to seek advice from the campus librarians or from the Learning Center (Donovan G155, x7310) as you write your papers. Of course, I also encourage you to contact me — by e-mail or telephone call (I’ll try to respond by the next business day at the latest), or come by my office — whenever you have questions about your sources or would like to show me a draft of some writing.
For that matter, the Learning Center offers workshops on plagiarism several times throughout the semester; I will announce the dates in class. I encourage you to attend one if you are not familiar with humanities-style writing or documentation. Should you need additional assistance or support, I also encourage you to utilize the facilities at the campus counseling center (Campus Center 208, x7160, http://web.sunyit.edu/counseling/). The counselors there can offer advice on dealing with the pressure of long-term and voluminous assignments along with other classes, jobs, and/or family; suspected learning disabilities, how to work with them, and how to notify your instructors about them while maintaining confidentiality; and other issues that might interfere with your studies. Official communications from the director, Mary Brown-DePass, have official weight for faculty, including me.
The Critical Film Review (15% of your final grade):
I have selected them because they provide images that complement our readings and discussions — so pay attention! I will distribute a movie guide on the same day that we watch each film. When possible, I will put copies of the films on reserve in the library (you must watch the films in the viewing rooms at the library). These feature films all claim to be ‘reality-based.’ How accurate is each film, in your opinion? And, how good is each film for learning about Brazilian history and Latin American history in general? Again, at the next class meeting, there will be a brief quiz (part of your journal!) on the film’s content (multiple choice, short answer, or a combination of the two) and related readings.
Then, you must write a critical, scholarly review of one of the films. This means that the review should consist of more than comments on the acting, scenery, costumes, writing style, etc. I have seen the films before, and do not need to read an extended summary of the events of the film. Your aim here is to evaluate the historical accuracy of the movie and the degree to which the movie or the book is useful and illustrative to learn about historical issues. You will need to do some research: to evaluate the film as a useful piece for learning or considering history, you MUST compare the film to other sources. Primary or secondary sources relating to the historical issues in the films are best: start with our textbooks, and look for additional books, articles, and quality websites that address the film’s issues. You may also want to consider what scholars and Latin American specialists have thought of the films (some academic journals and websites review movies; check the American Historical Review, the Hispanic American Historical Review, the Latin American Research Review, The Americas, and the discussion log of H-LatAm). Try to avoid citing popular film reviews (e.g. newspaper reviews, RottenTomatoes.com, etc.), unless you really need basic information about the film — remember, I want you to analyze the portrayal of history, not just the film’s story or “style.”
The due date for this paper is, in one sense, up to you. The review of each movie will be due two weeks after we watch the movie in class (on 27 Sept.or 22 Nov.). Approximate length: 3-4 double-spaced pages (900-1200 words).
You may write a second review for extra credit (grade x 0.10 added to your final grade), to be submitted on the last day of class ONLY (Thursday 8 Dec.). One review MUST have been submitted on time in order to receive extra credit for a second.
Note: we will also use several shorter documentary films and film clips in class. You do not have to write reviews of these films, but pay attention — you will be tested on their content, and their information could come in handy for the final essay!
The Final Essay (25% of your final grade; topic and annotated bibliography 5%; paper 20%):
Topic: For the final essay, select one country that we have studied in this class. Pick a country for which you know you have adequate information from the class readings, discussions, and your independent research, and provide brief but reasonably detailed answers to the questions below. In your essay, you will describe what you have learned about this country, and analyze and interpret the information that you present. You must cover all four periods, addressing as many of the following points as possible:
☼ Independence: What process(es) did this region undergo to obtain independence from its colonial rulers? When did this happen? How did this happen? Who played significant roles (think of: educated elites, reformers, popular rebellions,social groups with new opportunities, social groups that cited discrimination or lack of opportunities as a grievance, foreigners, etc)?
☼ Nineteenth Century: What sort of conditions existed in this region/country during the nineteenth century? Did the economy change after the end the majority of European colonization in Latin America and the Caribbean? How? What new trading partner(s) emerged? What was the impact on the population? What visions did members of government and the elites have for the new country? Did these visions differ from those of the majority of the population? How stable was government during the nineteenth century? What else fostered change in these countries (technological change, religious proselytization, presence of foreign traders or military advisors, etc.)
☼ Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries: What changes did the twentieth century bring to this country? Think of geopolitical events (world wars, civil wars, etc.), economic trends (Great Depression, industrialization, etc), technological changes (transportation, communications, health care, civil engineering projects), and philosophical changes (political theories, feminism, human rights, etc.). Have projects of political and social reform been advanced? If so, how did that happen, and who made it happen? If not, what has served as a delay or deterrent? What do you think this country’s prospects are for the future?
You must submit your choice of country in writing by 18 Oct., along with an annotated bibliography (meaning that you provide a short description of each source) of at least five (5) bibliographic sources that you will use to answer the above questions. No more than two (2) sources in this annotated bibliography may come from the Internet, and no more than two (2) can come from the course texts. Your use of web sources should be balanced with other sources in your final paper as well. In other words, if you don’t know how already, learn to find newspaper and journal articles in print and on databases, and order material on Interlibrary Loan — you’ll need it! Again, this paper is due on the date and at the time of our final exam, the week of 12 Dec. Approximate length, 7-10 double-spaced pages (2100-3000 words).
Some useful resources for your papers:
Some academic journals which contain relevant and up-to-date research on a wide variety of themes in Latin American studies are:
Aside from the online databases, you can get copies of the journals or articles that you find on HLAS Online (see below) and other online indices through interlibrary loan.
On the Web:
Handbook of Latin American Studies (HLAS) Online: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/hlas
Latin American Network Information Center (LANIC): http://lanic.utexas.edu
The University of Texas at Austin’s LANIC page is another great resource, a huge clearinghouse of information on colonial and modern Latin America. Many of the links focus on contemporary Latin America, but good, historical content is available at many of the sites listed.
H-Net is a forum run from Michigan State University that links academics and students worldwide in over 100 discussion groups and provides other resources as well. To begin to seek out information from the discussion groups, click on “Discussion Links.” You will find links to groups such as H-Africa (African History, there are also some regional lists), H-AmIndian, H-Atlantic (History of the Atlantic), H-Caribbean, H-Catholic, H-Demog (Demographic History), H-Environment, H-Ethnic, H-Mexico, H-Women, and more. Some sites include book reviews, and links to free, online journals as well as other Internet resources.
You can use the archives of each list to research past discussion threads (there may already be material available on the subject you are researching, and most lists keep easily-accessed logs of all questions and answers posted). Also, you can subscribe to the list for free and post your research questions, providing you’ve done a little initial research. Most lists don’t appreciate or respond to vague queries like “I want to write about nuns in Colonial Peru, where do I start?” But if you indicate that you’ve done some searching and you’re interested enough to continue, chances are other interested scholars will gladly lend a hand (e.g., “Where can I find out more about nuns in colonial Peru, particularly in rural areas? I’ve already looked here, here and here”; “How much information is available about nuns in rural Peru in the 18th century? My impression from X Book is that there isn’t much”; etc.) This leads to another extra credit opportunity: I will raise your paper grade one half grade, e.g. B to B+, if you use one of these lists to send a question and get a helpful response: print out your e-mail and the response(s), and submit them with your paper.
Other websites useful for Latin American Studies include:
Academic Info – Latin American History
Oxford University, Latin American Centre—Oxford Latin American Economic History Database
Georgetown University, Political Databases of the Americas
The University of Texas – Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection
Peasant Social Worlds and their Transformation (Manchester University Dept. of Social Anthropology and the ERA Consortium) – especially case studies on Mexico and Brazil
Richard W. Slatta, North Carolina State University, Research Sites for Latin American History
Montana State University, Latin American History Websites
Extra credit activities:
Week 1, cont.:
Thurs. 8 Sept. The Institutions of Empire, II: Society
* Remember: Monday 12 Sept. is the last day to add or drop a course without academic record.*
Thurs. 22 Sept. LIBRARY SESSION
Week 5, cont.:
Thurs. 6 Oct. The Modernization of Latin American Nation States, I: Order and Progress?
Thurs. 13 Oct COLONIAL ERA/INDEPENDENCE TEST
Thurs. 20 Oct. How New Are the Actors? How Old is the Stage?
Thurs. 27 Oct. Latin America’s Responses to Neocolonialism
Thurs. 3 Nov. The Twentieth Century Continues the Past: Wartime Economics and Populism (Focus on Argentina)
* Remember, Friday 4 Nov. is the last day to officially withdraw from courses (W grade) *
Thurs. 10 Nov. Populism and Turning Inward (?) Politics and Economics (Brazil and Colombia)
Thurs. 17 Nov. Rejecting Roles: The Revolutionary Option (Focus on Cuba)
Week 13, cont.:
Thurs. 24 Nov. NO CLASSES — THANKSGIVING BREAK — RELAX!
Thurs. 1 Dec. A New and Improved Economy? Debt, Dictatorship and Civil War in Latin America
Thurs. 8 Dec. Continue discussion of Globalization; discussion of final exam essay
FINAL EXAM, WEEK OF 12 DEC.: