Introduction to Latin American Studies (1999 Syllabus)
Course Taught by Thomas M. Edsall as Graduate Student

Course Requirements:
Map test.
   7-10 page Term Paper.
   2 Midterms.
   1 Final Exam.
   1 Film Paper (3-4 pages)

Grade Distribution:  

   5% Map Test.
   10% Attendance and Class Participation.
   25% Term Paper (5% Topic/Draft, 20% Final Paper)
   25% Two Midterms
   25%  Final (Contains Questions on Novel)
   10%  Film Paper

All information that is provided in this syllabus is subject to change in extenuating circumstances.

Texts (At Tulane Bookstore):
Allende, Isabel. House of the Spirits.  New York: Bantam Books, 1985.

Beezley, William H. and Colin MacLachlan.  Latin American:  The Peoples and their History.
 New York: Harcourt Brace, 2000.

Green, Duncan. Faces of Latin America.  London: Latin American Bureau, 1991.

Hillman, Richard.  Understanding Contemporary Latin America.  London: Lynne Reiner, 1997.

Wynia, Gary. The Politics of Latin American Development.  New York: Cambridge UP, 1990.

Texts (At Library):

To be announced.

Possibly Xerox packets.

Class Policy

1. Attendance is required and will be taken by voice before each class.  If you are late, state attendance at the end of the class.
2. Please, no eating in class.
3. Late paper will be assessed one point grade for each class day late.
4. There are no make-up exams, late papers, or quizzes without an official reason.
5. Honor code. Students should familiarize themselves with the code.  The code has been changed, in cases where the professor has doubts about paper authorship, the student must show how they wrote it.  Please save drafts and notes as a result.  Please abide by the honor code.
6. More than 3 unexplained absences will be reported.  Repeated absentees will receive WF (Withdrawal with Failure) as a grade. Please be on time, this
ill be factored into your class participation grade (10%).
7. Be responsible. Please talk to me about any problems you may be having with class. The vast majority of problems are easily solved with honest and open communication.
8. Readings will average 60-70 pages a week plus the texts used to prepare your final paper and the novel for the final. Be responsible in your readings. This averages out to only 10-15 pages a day. Don’t postpone your readings until the last minute.
9. Please inform me of any learning disabilities.  I have a math/handwriting disability and am quite willing to accommodate those students with verifiable disabilities. 10. Again, if you have problems with a paper or assignment please talk to me and I will try to the best of my ability to help you work out the problem.

Important Dates for Students:



Sept. 14

Last day to register/add.

Sept. 15

Map test.

Sept.  20


Oct. 4

Last day to drop without record.

Oct. 15

1st Mid-term

Nov. 19

2nd Mid-term

Oct. 25

Prospectus for Term Paper

Nov. 1

Last Day to Drop, Change Grading Rules other than Audit.

Nov. 8

1st Draft of Term Paper Due

Nov. 22-24


Nov. 29

Term Paper Due

Dec. 6

Film Paper/Reports Due

Dec. 16: Last 101-07, 9:00-9:50

Final Exam, 1:00-5:00 (Classroom)




Course Goal:

To introduce students to issues facing contemporary Latin America through an examination of anthropology, history, culture, politics, science, and economics.  This is a social science course so although culture will be talked about the primary focus is on other concepts.  Although this course is primarily focused on the 20th century, the student must be aware that many of Latin America’s present characteristics are inherited from Iberian, pre-Columbian, African, Colonial, and 19th century beliefs, economic and political organization, and events. At the end of the course students should be familiar with the region’s rich heritage as well as the many challenges facing Latin America as it enters the 21st Century.  As a result, the course covers a wide range of subjects, themes, and materials. It is a very broad course that ranges over 20 countries and hundreds of years. Don’t be surprised at the amount of material covered in the 16 weeks of the course. Introduction does not mean easy!

This class emphasizes the importance of writing skills!  All papers and reports should be well organized with a thesis statement and proper grammar. Remember to run spell check as well, its just one click for you but means a lot to the reader. Your rough draft should be as complete as possible and will be looked at closely.  I strongly urge you to make an appointment with the ERC writing tutors for extra help and guidance if you have writing problems.

Grade Breakdown:
Class participation (10%):
Attendance is required.  This is a lecture-based course and does not follow the structure of any one book. The class participation grade (10%) includes professional attitude such as being on time and not falling asleep. I will assign class presentations to students who fail to live up to professional academic standards and thus need a boost in their participation grades. They will make a presentation in front of the class about an assigned topic.

Tests (25%):
There will be two tests before the final exam. These tests will concentrate on a basic understanding of definitions and issues in short questions and answers. The second test will not be cumulative. 

Map Quiz (5%):
The map quiz asks you to identify major Latin American countries and geographic sites (i.e. The Amazon River, the Andes, the Rio de la Plata, etc.). Familiarize yourself with Latin American countries, regions, and geographical sites. Also tested will be size of populations, languages used in the region, and major capitals.

Term Paper (25%):
There will be a term paper of 7-10 pages.  This must include footnotes and bibliography with at least 5 academic sources (books and articles).  Internet sources do not count toward those 5 listings.  The topic choice is open and interdisciplinary in nature. I require a prospectus (the topic or thesis of your paper and list of sources) and a rough draft which will be heavily critiqued. I emphasize writing skills as an important part of expressing knowledge. Plagiarism should be understood and avoided by all students!!!!  I will hand out an explanation of plagiarism to lesson the possibility of honest mistakes. I have a file of old papers from my classes and other sections as well as many Internet topics/papers found on the web and have studied writing style as part of my academic training.

Film Paper (10%):
A 3-4 page report or essay on three of the films you saw in the semester’s film series.  Use of outside sources is encouraged.  Relate the films to issues raised in the class. I will make a list of films available to rent if you can not attend the film series.

Final Exam (25%):
The final is a cumulative test of all you have learned in the semester.  The final exam will test your knowledge of important terms and events as well as your interpretive understanding of Latin American issues.  There will be identifications and essays on the test.  I will provide study sheets before the final and have voluntary reviews before the final and other tests.  There will be a major question based on the novel House of the Spirits on the final. I will try to be flexible in the questions so that you can concentrate on your strengths (i.e. economic, political, cultural, social).

Grading System:

Number Grade

Letter Grade Equivalent



























Readings for the class:

Wed. Sept. 1

Introduction to Course


Friday Sept. 3

Impressions of Latin America

Hillman, 1-8. Green, 1-2.

Mon. Sept. 6



Wed. Sept. 8


Hillman, 9-26.

Fri. Sept. 10

Indigenous Societies, Aztecs/Incas

Green 183-187.   Maclachlan, 2, 47-48, 76-77,106-109.   Hillman, 321-322.

Mon. Sept. 13

Spain and Portugal

Hillman, 27-49.

Wed. Sept. 15

Africa and Enslaved Africans in the Americas

Study maps: geographical, populations, languages, countries and capitals.

Fri. Sept. 17

Colonial Latin America

Maclachlan, 2-9, 47,109-113, 161-165, 232-235.

Mon. Sept. 20



Wed. Sept. 22

19th Century

Maclachlan, 57-60, 115-119, 166-170, 235-242. Hillman, 52-56.

Fri. Sept. 24

Film: Images of Kingdoms.
Introduction to the 20th Century, Discussion.

Wynia 3-22.

Mon. Sept. 27

Economic and Cultural Nationalism

Maclachlan, 119-131, 268-282. Hillman, 329-335. Hillman, 56-60.

Wed. Sept. 29


Green, 109-117.  Maclachlan, 175-179. Wynia, 42-44, 220-224.

Fri. Oct. 1

Peronism, Juan and Evita

Maclachlan, 179-181. Wynia, 249-260.

Mon. Oct. 4

Marxism and Latin America, Dependency Theory

Green, 145-161.  Hillman, 67-74.

Wed. Oct 6

Film or Guest Lecture

Wynia, 284-305.

Fri. Oct. 8

National Security Regimes

Green, 127-141.  Wynia, 81-87. Hillman, 104-106.

Mon. Oct. 11

Dirty War in Argentina

Wynia, 260-269. 

Wed. Oct. 13

Library Orientation Session


Fri. Oct. 15

1st Mid-term


Mon. Oct. 18

Mexican Exceptionalism

Wynia, 139-164.

Wed. Oct. 20

Economics: Part One

Maclachlan 132-146.  Hillman, 119-123.

Fri. Oct. 22

Economics: Part Two

Hillman, 123-135.  Hillman, 145-148.

Mon. Oct. 25

Democracy and Neo-Liberalism

Maclachlan, 185-190. Green, 73-89.  Maclachlan, 185-190.

Wed. Oct. 27

USA/LA Relations:  Part One

Maclachlan, 190-208. Hillman, 157-161.

Fri. Oct. 29

USA/LA Relations:  Part Two

Maclachlan, 209-230. Hillman, 161-164

Mon. Nov. 1

Rural Issues: Export Agr. And the Crisis in Central America

Green, 23-39.

Wed. Nov. 3

Urban Issues:

Green, 59-72.  Maclachlan, 61-74.

Fri. Nov. 5

Social Boundaries

Hillman, 209-233.

Mon. Nov. 8

Carnival vs. Mardi Gras

Green, 89-109.

Wed. Nov. 10

Gender Roles and Politics

Green, 165-183.  Maclachlan, 33-42.

Fri. Nov. 12

Indigenous Groups

Green, 183-201.

Mon. Nov. 15

Religion in Latin America

Green, 201-216.  Maclachlan, 243-253.

Wed. Nov. 17

Guest Lecture*


Fri. Nov. 19

2nd Mid-term


Mon. Nov. 22

Environmental Issues

Green, 39-59.

Wed. Nov. 24

HOLIDAY: Thanksgiving


Fri. Nov. 26

HOLIDAY: Thanksgiving


Mon. Nov. 29

Colombia and Narcoterrorism


Wed. Dec. 1

Current Latin American Politics


Fri. Dec. 3

Discussion: House of the Spirits


Mon. Dec. 6

Discussion: House of the Spirits


Wed. Dec. 8

Latin America at the Crossroads

Hillman, 345-350.

Thurs. Dec. 16

LAST 101-07, 9:00-9:50

FINAL EXAM, 1:00-5:00

Mon. Dec. 20

LAST 101-04, 12:00-12:50

FINAL EXAM, 1:00-5:00