College of Arts and Sciences 
Department of History, Geography, and Political Science

Dr. Theron Corse

Course Description 

COURSE SYLLABUS HIST 4520, Contemporary Latin America 

Semester/Year: Fall 2012 Office Location: Crouch Hall, 406A
Semester Hours of Credit: 3 Office Phone: 963-7457
Instructor: Dr. Theron Corse Alternate Phone: 963-5471
Class meeting location: Crouch (GRD) 404 E-Mail: tcorse@tnstate.edu
Day and Time: TR: 2:40-4:05 pm


Office Hours: MWF: 9:00-3:00; TR: 9:00-9:40, 1-3:00

1. Research Question Paper 2. Problems essays 3. Country Study 4. Participation

COURSE DESCRIPTION HIST 4520 is an overview of major events in Latin American History in the 20th century. This course is meant to introduce students to the cultural, social, and political history of Latin America, from the pre-colonial era to the present day. Given the number of countries involved, the approach will be thematic, with attention paid to important examples and case studies. As much as possible, this course will focus on “ground-level” history, examining how historical forces and events shaped the lives of ordinary people. Because of this, the course will give special attention to issues of race, identity, gender roles, social interaction, and the like. Because of the importance of resistance and rebellion for ordinary people in Latin America, these too will be key themes.  The course is also designed to provide students with a richer picture of Latin America than the already have. For most Americans, our southern neighbors are sombreros, burritos, and Castro's cigar. In fact, Latin America is an enormously varied region that has experienced almost every imaginable government, from Constitutional Monarchy in Brazil to Marxist-Leninism in Cuba. Its people are equally varied, from ethnic Jamaicans on Costa Rica's shores to Aymara-speaking Amerindians in Bolivia to Ukrainian-Italian bankers in southern Brazil. 

At the end of the course, students should be able to discuss generally the major cultural and social themes of Latin American history and be able to use that knowledge to analyze current events. 

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GOALS AND OBJECTIVES This course is designed to so that the student will:
  • Be able to identify and analyze the major issues that have confronted Latin America in the 20th Century.
  • Be able to discuss and analyze the role of revolution in 20th century Latin America.
  • Be able to discuss and analyze the role of the United States in 20th century Latin America.
  • Be able to discuss and analyze current issues in Latin America, including drugs, economic development, environmental concerns, and urbanization

There  are three books which we will use in this class:

  • Eakin, Marshall. The History of Latin America: Collision of Cultures (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) Amazon
  • Chasteen, John Charles and James Wood. Problems in Modern Latin American History: Sources and Interpretations, Completely Revised and Updated (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003) Amazon

All of these books are available in paperback.

EVALUATION Grades will be based on the assignments listed below. Assignments will be weighted as follows:  
Grade Distribution

Two  Exams

2x20% each=40%



Map Quizzes


Problems essays


Country Study 10%

Research Paper





Assignments 1. Research Paper 2. Problems essays 3. Country Study
Grades and their numerical equivalents are as follows:
Grading Scale
90 or above A
80-89 B
70-79 C
60-69 D
59 or below F


Office Hours: Students who seek help with instructors during office hours get better grades. Do not wait until you have major problems! Students should speak to me any time they find themselves confused about material, directions, or grades. I am always ready to help any student who needs help with any of the material or any assignment. That's my job.

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READINGS AND ASSIGNMENTS All readings are required.
Week Date (Wed) Topics and Assignments



Aug 28, 30 Introduction
  • What is Latin America? Class discussion

End of Drop/Add - Aug 31

Eakin, chps. 1-10


Sep 4, 6

Founding Nations

Eakin, chps. 11-13

Chasteen: Chapter 1, reading 3 - "Argentina's Black Legions."

Sep 11, 13

The Nineteenth Century

Map Quiz 1, Sep 13 (Countries)

Eakin, chp. 14

Chasteen, Chapter 3, reading 5 - "Ribbons and Rituals"

Sep 18, 20

The Nineteenth Century

Map Quiz 2, Sep 20 (Capitals)

Eakin, chps. 15-16

Chasteen, Chapter 4, reading 3, - "The Post Colonial Church"


Sep 25, 27

Latin America at the turn of the century


Eakin, chp. 17

Chasteen, Chapter 5, reading 1 - "The Specter of Degeneration"

Oct 2, 4

Latin America at the turn of the century

Eakin, chp. 18

Chasteen, Chapter 6, readings 3 and 7 - Georges Clemenceau, "A Paean to Progress," and Fredrick Palmer, "Our Ugly Little Backyard" (I would encourage you to read 4,5, and 6 as well)


Oct 9, 11

The Rise of Revolution

Eakin, chp. 19

Oct 16, 18

The Rise of Revolution

Eakin, chp. 19


Oct 23, 25

The Rise of Revolution

Midterm Exam Due - Oct 25
Research Topic Due - Oct 30

Eakin, chp. 19

Chasteeen, Chapter 7, reading 5, - Juan Jose Arevalo, "The Shark and the Sardines."


Oct 30, Nov 1

Cuba, Nicaragua, and the late Cold War


Eakin, chp. 20

Chasteen, Chapter X, reading 1 - Che Guevera, "Essence of Guerrilla Warfare."


Nov 6, 8

Cuba, Nicaragua, and the late Cold War

Country Study Due Nov 8
Last Day to Withdraw - Nov 9

Eakin, chp. 20

Chasteen, Chapter 10, reading 3 - Margaret Randall, "Christianity and Revolution"


Nov 13, 15

An Era of Reform

Eakin, chp. 21

Chasteen, Chapter 9, reading 2 - Juan Peron, "Declaration of Workers' Rights" and Chapter 10, reading 5, Salvador Allende, "The Chilean Road to Socialism"


Nov 20, 22

The Rise of Dictatorship


Eakin, chp. 21-22


Nov 27, 29

Latin America at the Millennium

Research Question rough drafts  Due - Nov 29

Eakin, chp. 21-22
15 Dec 4, 6

Latin America at the Millennium

Research Question paper  Due - Dec 6

Last Day of Classes - Dec 6

Eakin, chps. 23-24

Steve Ellner, "The Distinguishing Features of Latin America's New Left in Power: The Governments of Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, and Rafael Correa"
16 Dec 10-14 Final Exam Due Dec 14



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REQUIREMENTS Assignments Assignments for this class will include reading, writing, and special projects. Readings maybe assigned not only from the text, but also from photocopied materials, library books, and Internet sources. Students are responsible for all work assigned in this class, whether or not they are present. Assignments must be completed on time. Late work will be penalized unless you have a good excuse, and no assignments will be accepted more than one week late. All students are expected to participate regularly in class discussions.  


Attendance and Punctuality

All students are expected to attend class punctually and regularly.  Students arriving after the beginning of class may, at the instructor's discretion, be counted absent and/or asked to remain outside the classroom until the end of the lecture.

Excessive absence or tardiness may result in a significant reduction in a student's grade, and instructors are under no obligation to allow make-up work in cases of tests and assignments missed as a result of unexcused absence or tardiness.  The professor reserves the right to deduct from the student's participation grade for more than three unexcused absences and to deduct up to a letter grade from the final grade for excessive unexcused absences (10% of class hours). The professor reserves the right to fail students who miss more that 20% of class hours. Those students who know that they will have a consistent problem due to scheduling conflicts should discuss this with the professor at the beginning of the semester. Students are also responsible for obtaining information presented in class during their absence.

In the event of an illness or emergency requiring absence from class, students should contact the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs in order to obtain the documentation necessary to have the absence excused.  Instructors may require such documentation as a condition for allowing the completion of missed tests or assignments.

Tennessee State University's policy on absences may be found in the Student Handbook, Chapter VII, pp. 100-101.

The last day to withdraw is Nov 59


Special Note on Academic Honesty

Students should be aware that a university is a community of scholars committed to the discovery and dissemination of knowledge and truth. Without freedom to investigate all materials, scrupulous honesty in reporting findings, and proper acknowledgment of credit, such a community can not survive. Students are expected to adhere to the highest traditions of scholarship. Infractions of these traditions, such as plagiarism (cheating), are not tolerated. Misrepresenting someone else's words or ideas as one's own constitutes plagiarism. In cases where plagiarism occurs, the instructor has the right to penalize the student(s) as he or she thinks appropriate. One guideline holds that the first offence results in failure of the assignment, the second offence in failure of the course. 

Class Participation

Class Participation: Preparation: since students are expected to participate in class discussion, it is important to complete all the assigned readings before coming to class. Students are expected to understand the material, or at least have identified what they do not yet understand in order to ask questions in class. All students are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the assigned material.

Students are expected to observe normal courtesy in class. They are expected to pay attention to the instructor, to take detailed notes, to refrain from personal conversation, and to avoid any other behavior that disturbs others. A student who does not observe these courtesies maybe asked to leave the room. 
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Back to Contents Last Updated: August 27, 2012

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