HIST 4520



Due Thursday, Mar 13


Required portion: All students will have to write a 3-4 page essay (minimum) on the following topic:



Essay 2 (pick one): All students will have to write a 3-4 page essay (minimum) on the one of the following topics:


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. 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 should:


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.