Survey of Colonial Latin American History Course Requirements
Course Structure :

This course is designed to introduce you to critical issues in colonial Latin American history. When Iberians invaded and colonized Americans after 1492, what kind of globalization did this produce? Who participated, why, and what was at stake? What was early modern political economy like? We’ll also examine issues of identity, difference, and hierarchy in the “New World.” What rights did some people claim to control the lives of others, free and slave? What kinds of relationships resulted, and when were they challenged and changed?
Our readings will span a variety of perspectives, including bits of Columbus’s diary, Las Casas’s famous critique of Spanish brutality, and the picaresque account of a cross-dressing Basque nun. We’ll consider the proposition that “Indians” were not born but made, and look at the creation of distinctive American identities under conditions of early modern colonialism.

  Course Goals:

You should complete the course: 1) with a good grasp of the particular themes and issues related to Spanish and Portuguese colonization and rule of the Americas; 2) with an understanding of the changing nature of those issues throughout the colonial period (1492- ca 1820); 3) with knowledge of some of the more general theoretical questions related to colonialism; 4) prepared to study modern Latin America with an eye for the way it is shaped by its colonial past and 5) as a better writer, researcher and a more informed inhabitant of an increasingly “globalized” world.

Books to Purchase:

Burkholder & Johnson, Colonial Latin America, 5th ed.
Las Casas, A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies
Erauso, Lieutenant Nun
Stern, Peru's Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest
Sweet, Recreating Africa
Hunt, The French Revolution and Human Rights

Grading and Assignments:

Part of our class work will consist of discussion of the readings, with additional attention to week’s readings on Thursdays. To focus them, I ask that you write a short reaction to the readings to be discussed (typed, double-spaced, about 500 words or 1 1⁄2 to 2 pages), due at the beginning of class. I want you to do a total of five reading responses during the course of the semester. This means you can take some weeks off (pick whichever five weeks suit you). But you must do at least three responses before the mid-term exam.
Once class is up and running I’ll use Blackboard ( to post questions and prompts for these short assignments. I will also post materials for the map exam and study questions for the midterm and final exams so you can prepare thoughtful, well-organized responses.
You will also prepare a research project on a topic of your choice. You must meet with me by October 28th to discuss your topic. All topics must be approved by the 28th of October. You will not write a paper for this assignment. Rather, the project will consist of a lengthy paragraph describing your findings, an outline of the paper you would write (if you were to write it), and a bibliography of your sources. You should review three to six sources depending on the type of sources you select (check with me to determine suitability). Internet sources are not acceptable without prior approval.

Course grades will be based on your preparation, participation, and exams, approximately as follows:
Midterm and final exams (20% each) 40%
Research Project 15%
Participation (reading responses 30%, map quiz 5%,
contributions to discussions 10%) 45%


Late papers will be penalized unless you obtain prior approval. I will not accept papers by email without prior approval.
Attendance will not be taken but a substantial portion of your grade depends on your engagement with the class. If you choose to attend infrequently it will negatively impact your grade.
In class I expect you to be attentive, participate, and contribute towards creating a scholarly environment.
Students are responsible for registering for classes and for verifying their class schedules on e-campus.
The deadline for adding a Fall Semester class without instructor and academic unit head signatures is Monday, September 5, 2005. Between Monday, September 5, 2005 and Thursday, September 15, 2005, instructor and academic unit head signatures are required to add a class for Fall Semester 2005.
No student will be allowed to register for a Fall Semester class after Thursday, September 15, 2005. No exceptions will be made to these deadlines.

Honor code:

I encourage you to study together; however, you are bound by the Honor Code in taking exams and in writing your papers. As per university guidelines, students are responsible for abiding by the James Madison University Honor Code at all times. Plagiarism is a serious offense in the historical profession, and is unacceptable at this university. Please consult with me if you have any questions about the Honor Code or Plagiarism. 

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