Science 2, Room 140
T-Th 01:15PM-02:40PM

Professor: Nancy Appelbaum E-mail:
Office: Library Tower 716 Office Phone: 777-4420
Office Hours: Mondays, 4-5; Thursdays 3-4:30

Teaching Assistant: Melissa Madera
Office and Office Hours: To Be Announced

This course has two main goals. The first is to provide a broad interdisciplinary introduction to Latin America and Latin American studies. The second is to improve skills in critical reading and writing.

To accomplish the first goal, we study how scholars in several disciplines as well as novelists, poets, activists, artists, and news media have portrayed and interpreted Latin America. Lectures, readings, images, videos, and discussion explore the actions, opinions, identities, and experiences of diverse Latin American women and men, often through their own words.

One class cannot cover everything about Latin America. Rather, the course is divided into major thematic units in Latin American studies, each of which focuses selectively on certain issues and places. The course is not entirely chronological; time periods for each unit overlap. The first unit examines indigenous peoples, conquest, and the creation of the Americas. The second is about slavery, its legacies, and race. The third is about sexuality, gender, and honor. The fourth is about imperialism and nationalism. And the fifth is about repression, resistance, and revolution.

The course is interdisciplinary, with a particular emphasis on history and historical interpretation. We will compare and interpret the various kinds of sources that historians and other scholars use. We will consider the differences between first and second-hand accounts, and between fact and fiction.

Regarding the second goal, the class will provide opportunities to ask questions and discuss course materials. Paper assignments and essay exams will provide opportunities to address such questions more systematically and polish writing skills. The skills that you will develop as you formulate and revise your arguments will serve you well in other coursework and in whatever professional field you ultimately pursue in this “information age.” This course counts for a Gen. Ed. “N” and a Harpur College “W.” This class is not recommended for students who have already taken History 276, Modern Latin America.

Required Books (available in the University Bookstore and through other stores and on-line vendors. One copy of each is on one-day reserve in the library reserve room):

  • Alvarez, Julia. In the Time of the Butterflies, reprint ed. Plume, 1995.
  • Chasteen, John Charles. Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America. New York: W.W. Norton, 2001.
  • Casas, Bartolomé de las. The Devastation of the Indies: A Brief Account. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1992 (also available in Spanish editions in the library or by special order).
  • Díaz, Bernal. The Conquest of New Spain. New York: Penguin, 1963.
  • García Márquez, Gabriel. Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Ballantine Books, 1988 (also available in the original Spanish in the library or by special order).
  • Twine, France Winddance. Racism in a Racial Democracy: The Maintenance of White Supremacy in Brazil. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1997.

Recommended Style Guide (for formatting footnotes and papers)

Turabian, Kate. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. 6th ed. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1996.

Required Short Readings

Additional shorter required readings are listed in the course schedule below. Some will be provided as handouts or internet links. Most, however, are reserve readings available on electronic reserves. We have been assigned the following ereserves password: fiction182. To access reserve readings, go to the Binghamton University Libraries' Course Reserves web site, which can also be reached through the BU Libraries Homepage. Click on Reserves and Course Materials and follow instructions from there. The webpage should tell you if each reading is available electronically or must be consulted in the library reserve room itself.

Current News Media

All students are required to read about Latin America in the news media. In particular, students are encouraged to read The New York Times (especially the front section and also occasionally the business section), which regularly carries articles on Latin America. You can read it in print or on-line at Questions related to current events covered in The New York Times may appear on the mid-term and final examinations. In order to gain more diverse perspectives and in-depth coverage you should also sample and compare media that provide a left analysis (such as The Nation) and neo-liberal perspectives (The Economist or The Wall Street Journal, for example). Students who can read Spanish or Portuguese are encouraged to read Latin American newspapers on line or in the library, and compare the coverage in the United States and Latin America. For a list of links to Latin American newspaper sites, see Assume that questions about current events, related to articles in the Times and other media, may appear on the exams.

Writing Assignments

The course requires two essays, in addition to exams. For the first, which will be about 4 pages and based mainly on class readings, you will submit two drafts; the first is due on Sept. 30 and the final on Oct. 26. The second paper will be about 5 pages and due on Dec. 2. Specific Instructions for both papers, along with a guide for citing sources, will be provided in class.

Academic Honesty

Professor Appelbaum has zero tolerance for academic dishonesty. Plagiarism or cheating constitutes grounds for failure and disciplinary action. All written work, both papers and exams, must be original, in each student’s own words, reflecting his or her own ideas. Students may discuss paper assignments and study for exams together, but the actually written work must be each student’s own. All ideas, facts, wording, and quotations gleaned from any sources whatsoever must be cited in proper form, per a handout that students will receive. By taking this course, students agree that all required papers may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to a plagiarism-detecting internet service. If you object to this or any other policy laid out in this syllabus, drop the class before the drop deadline.

Grading and Classroom Dynamics

The grading for this course breaks down roughly as follows:

  • Class Participation=15%
  • Paper 1 =20%
  • Paper 2 =20%
  • Mid-Term Exam =20%
  • Final Exam =25%

Due dates are firm; late papers will be graded down and accepted only for a limited period.

Anyone who adds the class late is still responsible for all of the readings, attendance, and lecture materials from the first day on. Attendance and participation will be counted starting the second class meeting of the semester.

Students should go to the office hours of the professor and/or teaching assistant for help, especially for the papers and exams. Students are also encouraged to visit the Writing Center located in LN 1209.

Class participation involves: attendance, showing up on time and prepared, asking questions during lectures, doing in-class exercises, participating thoughtfully and actively in discussion, paying attention to and showing respect to fellow students and to the professor, and consulting with the professor during office hours. If you find it difficult to speak up in class, you can make up for it in part by consulting with the professor during office hours and demonstrating in other ways (paying close attention and participating in small-group discussions) that you are prepared and engaged. But you still need to participate sometimes in larger-group discussions. Feel free in lecture to raise your hand and ask for repetition or explanation of anything you do not understand. Chances are, if you did not understand something, other people didn’t either.

Coming in late, leaving early, talking while other students or the professor are speaking, and receiving cell phone calls are disruptive and disrespectful to everyone present and will affect class-participation grades. According to university policies “any instructor may exclude from attendance any student, who in the instructor’s judgment, has seriously impaired the class’s ability to achieve the objectives in the course.”

Excused absences and make-up exams are only granted in cases of documented health emergencies. The following are examples of some events that are NOT sufficient to receive an excused absence or make up an exam: athletic events, extracurricular activities, meetings with career or academic advisors, court appointments, weddings, out-of-town trips, family reunions, hangovers, car trouble, employment, or having other papers due. If your schedule does not permit you to arrive on time to this class, do not take the class.

Any special needs, or any serious problems affecting coursework, should be brought to the professor’s attention as early as possible.

Last Updated: 8/12/16