HIST 3200, History of Mexico
Reading Essay Assignment

Instructions and Description: You will be required to write five essays based on the readings in this class. These readings will come primarily from The Mexico Reader, but may also come from Brief History, from handouts, and from other assigned readings. There will be a separate assignment for The Underdogs. Eleven essay questions will be offered throughout the semester. You are to do only five (5). Each essay will be 2-3 pages long (440-660 words). These are worth 5% of you final grade each, for a total of 25% of your final grade. Any given essay will only be accepted one week from its original due date, and there will be a five point deduction for lateness. (Essay 4 is an exception, as one week after its due date falls during Spring Break. I will accept it as late as March 14, two weeks after the due date, with the same five point penalty.) Readings from The Mexico Reader are noted with the mark "MR."


Essay 1, Due Jan 25: Discuss the similarities and differences in the worldviews and values of the Mexica (Aztecs) and the Maya. Try to identify at least two of each. Readings: Brief History Chp 1; MR "Popol Vuh," p. 79; MR "The Cost of Courage," p. 61.

Essay 2, Due Feb 8: What did the Spaniards think of the Amerindian people they encountered in Mexico? Was there widespread agreement, or did the Spaniards have differing views on the nature of the Amerindians and how they should be understood and dealt with? Readings: Brief History Chp 2; MR "The Spaniards' Entry into Tenochtitlan," p. 97; MR "Why the Indians Are Dying," p. 123

Essay 3, Due Feb 22: Read the two handouts about Isabel Moctezuma and Beatriz de Padilla. Write an essay comparing the survival strategies these two women used. Consider their different social status, and the different opportunities and limitations each faced.

Essay 4, Due Mar 2: Identify at least three of the most important social and political groups in Mexico during the wars of Independence. What were their attitudes towards independence? Why were the for or against it? Which of these groups won out in the end, and why? Readings: Brief History Chp 5;  MR "The Siege of Guanajuato," p. 172

Essay 5, Due Mar 15: What were the critical challenges to Mexican national stability in the early and middle parts of the nineteenth century? How well did Mexico deal with these challenges? Brief History Chps 5-7; MR "The Siege of Guanajuato," p. 172; MR "A Conservative Profession of Faith," p. 221; MR "Liberals and the Land," p. 239; The Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo, 2 Feb 1848"

Essay 6, Due Mar 27: Read MR "Pofirio Diaz Visits Yucatan," MR p. 273. Asses this depiction of Porfirio Diaz and the society he ruled over with the description of late 19th century Mexico found in Chapter 8 of Mexico: A Brief History. Does Arnold and Frost's essay fit well with what is outlined in Chapter 8, or does it seem out of place, either exaggerated or understated in its description of life and politics in Mexico?

Essay 7, Due Mar 29: The editors of The Mexico Reader tell us that Ricardo Magon influenced the political movement led by Emiliano Zapata (MR p. 335). Read the two Magon's manifesto "Land and Liberty" (MR p. 335) and Zapata's "Plan de Ayala" (MR p. 339). Is there evidence in the Plan de Ayala of the influence of Magon's ideas? Describe the similarities and differences you see in these two documents.

Essay 8, Due Apr 5: Read MR "The Socialist ABC's," p. 411. What re the values that the Mexican government is trying to teach people with this reader? How do they match, or not match, what we know about the ideas that were important during the violence of the 1910s, the ideologies and goals that motivated the fighting. You may wish to consult Chapter 9 of Mexico: A Brief History to refresh your memory of those values.

Essay 9, Due Apr 5: Read the following essays: MR "The Agrarian Reform in La Laguna," p. 445 and MR "The Two Faces of Acapulco," p. 500. What image do they present of the achievements of the revolutionary governments? Do they suggest that those governments have been successful, either at implementing the goals of the revolutionary period or in some other manner?

Essay 10, Due Apr 19: Read the following essays: MR "Ciudad Nezahualcoyotal," and p. 537 MR "After the Earthquake," p. 579. Based on these essays, what kind of difficulties are faced by the poor in Mexico City, and what kind of obstacles do they confront in seeking to reform and improvement in their living conditions?

Essay 11, Due Apr 19: Read the following essays: MR "The Sinking City," p. 500 and MR "Identity Hour," p. 613. Based on these essays (and you may also want to consider MR "Ciudad Nezahualcoyotal," and p. 537 MR "After the Earthquake," p. 579), how would you characterize Mexico City? What is your understanding of the nature of the city and the people who live in it?

Essay 12, Due Apr 19: Read the following essays: MR "The Student Movement of 1968," p. 555 and  MR "Corazon the Rocanrol," p. 599. Discuss the different ways the youth of Mexico City have responded to life in the city and the larger political and economic system in Mexico. How effective have they been at creating change and gaining control over their own lives? How have authorities responded?

The remaining essays are TBA

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