Due Thursday, Mar 13
Required portion: All students will have to write a 3-4
page essay (minimum) on the following topic:
- Compare how the authors Sarmiento and Azuela describe
the rural population in their books Facundo and The Underdogs.
Discuss their perspectives on the skills, personalities, values, and possible
futures of these populations. You are not limited to these topics, and should
consider others as well.
Essay 2 (pick one): All students will have to write a
3-4 page essay (minimum) on the one of the following topics:
- What are the obstacles to state formation that Sarmiento
identifies in Facundo? That is, what doe he believe stands in the way
of creating a strong, stable government in Argentina? Relate this to the
circumstances of 19th century Latin America in general.
- Consider the ways the term “revolution” is used in
Azuela’s The Underdogs. What are the different meanings the word takes
on this book? How is the concept understood by characters in the book? Relate
these ideas to the actual course the revolution took in real life.
- Based on readings, lecture notes, and class discussion,
discuss what you regard as the three most important factors that contributed
in 19th century and early 20th century Latin America to the
construction of national identities.
- Discuss Sarmiento’s understanding of what causes history
to happen. How important is geography and the nature of the land? What role
does he give to larger social and historical forces, such as the influence of
the Catholic Church or the importance of the economy? How important are the
personalities and actions of important individuals?
- Liberals and Positivists sought to "modernize" Latin
America in the later part of the nineteenth century. What was meant by
"modernization," and what impact did it have on ordinary people?
- In discussing The Underdogs, Harriet de Onís has
quoted the Spanish proverb, “As a sample, a button will do.” In terms of the
Mexican Revolution, how well does this proverb apply to The Underdogs?
How well does this novel represent the realities of the Revolution? Consider
the goals, background, and ideologies of both the fictional characters and of
the leaders and masses who participated in the actual Revolution.
On doing essays: In grading these essays, I will assume you have
done the appropriate readings. In doing an essay, there are certain things
you should remember. A good essay will first of all answer the question. Make
sure you do address all parts of the question. A good essay is both specific and
general: specific in its examples, general in its use of major themes. Finally,
a good essay has a definite structure: an introduction, a body with an
organization and argument, and a conclusion. So, in doing your essay, you
- 1) State you main ideas clearly.
- 2) Give your essay structure. I'd suggest preparing an
outline as you study.
- 3) Give specific examples to back up your main ideas.
You may use outside sources for these essays, but you
MUST cite these sources. Please also give page numbers for any quotations you
take from Facundo and The Underdogs.