GHUM 252: Latin America - Readings

Required Books:
John Charles Chasteen, Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America (W.W. Norton & Co., 2006.)
Clorinda Matto de Turner, Birds without a Nest: A Story of Indian Life and Priestly Oppression in Peru (Univ. Of Texas Press, [1889] 2004)
Aluísio Azevedo, The Slum (Oxford Univ. Press, [1890] 2000)

Descriptions - Born in Blood and Fire is our core text for the class. Dr. John Chasteen wrote Born in Blood and Fire to be an engaging "quick and dirty" overview of Latin American history and culture. To introduce the reader to the vast region and its people is no easy task but Chasteen has managed to craft a very readable volume that has been adopted in classes all over the country. I think it is a the best "text book" I've ever read and I hope you enjoy it.

The other two books you will be reading are novels. Both books were written in the late 19th century and are therefore not only fictional accounts of the past but also are documents of their own time. Matto de Turner's book is the story of relationships in the Peruvian Andes during the 19th century. She wrote a story that shows how race, class and gender (norms and expectations) complicated and even distorted social relationships in rural Peru during the time. Azevedo's work is set in the same time period but his characters reside in urbanizing Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This was a time when Brazil was an indepedent country but was still ruled over by a king slavery still existed but many changes were happening and more were to come. His book is also a character study that, like Matto de Turner, shows how race, class and gender affect social relations. I think you will enjoy both books and I look forward to our discussions of these texts.

Other Readings - There are a number of additional readings in the form of pdf's that will be placed on the blackboard site for the class. You can read these online to save paper or you can print them and read them.

Reading Journal - You must write a reaction to one of the readings every week. Your comments can vary but should show your engagement with the material in some way. You can write a personal reaction but you should go beyond shock or surprise to raise questions and/or propose answers about the materials you are reading. Your responses should be no more than a paragraph or two per week unless otherwise directed. I will collect a few random journals every week so you need to bring your journal with you to class every day. You should have at least one entry by Thursday (class time) of the second week of the semester. I will mark the reactions with a check (√) system as follows: a check means you did a good or satisfactory job; a check plus is outstanding (I don’t give many of these for reactions/responses); a check minus means there are some issues that need to be addressed and you should pay attention to my comments and you also might consider meeting with me.