Republican Latin America (Fall 2019)

Draft. See course Blackboard or syllabus distributed in class for official version.


Republican Latin America – History 281

Professor: Dr. Benjamin Bryce

Term: Fall 2019

Time: Thursdays, 18:00-21:00 and online

Location: Geoffrey R. Weller Library, 5-177


Skype handle: benbryce

Telephone: (250) 960-5759

Office: McCaffray Hall 3092

Office Hours: Every Thursday that class is scheduled, from 3pm to 4pm, and by appointment.

Course Description: This course explores Latin American history from 1790 to the present, tracing the development of dozens of nation-states out of Spanish and Portuguese colonies. It seeks to provide an overview of the history of the region, particularly by focusing on the topics of independence, indigenous peoples, slavery, state formation, nationalism, labour, and the Cold War. In addition to this topical approach, the readings and lectures will focus on broader themes in modern Latin American history such as gender and race. Special attention will be paid to the histories of Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, and Brazil. The course will explore how internal and external forces such as social inequalities, racial hierarchies, and export economies as well as colonial and neo-colonial legacies shaped the diverse histories of Latin American countries.

This course follows a blended format. Significant portions of course content are delivered online, and class time is used to anchor out-of-class content delivery and to prepare for assignments. This format seeks to give students more control over when and where they do a significant part of their learning.

Purpose and Objectives:

1) A greater understanding of Latin American history.

2) The ability to critically analyze and discuss primary documents.

3) The ability to identify historiographic debates.

4) A greater understanding of the place of Latin America in world history.

Required Readings:

Teresa Meade. A History of Modern Latin America: 1800 to the Present. Second edition. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell, 2016.

  • One copy of this book is on three-hour reserve at the library. It is the first edition. The pagination changed slightly but the chapters are the same.
  • You can purchase it at the bookstore for approximately $50.
  • You can also purchase the first edition if you find it for much cheaper. The chapter structure has not changed, and the author’s revisions are very minor.

All other primary and secondary sources are in the course-kit or can be accessed through the UNBC library.


  1. Attendance and participation in in-person classes, 5%
  2. Map quiz, September 19, 2%
  3. Weekly responses to questions in assigned readings. 2% per week, 24%
  4. Weekly question about podcast lecture. 1% per week, 12%
  5. Weekly answer to a question about podcast lecture. 1% per week, 12%
  6. Primary document analysis. Due October 3, 15%
  7. Peer-response activity. In-class, November 21, 5%
  8. Historiographic research essay. Due Thursday, December 5, 25%


  1. Attendance and participation in in-person classes. Students are required to come to all four in person sessions of this class. Engaging with the course, classmates, and the instructor is an essential way that a blended learning course can complement conventional classes.
  2. Map quiz. In class on September 19. You are expected to have a general understanding of the political geography of Latin America. You will be tested on names and location of countries.
  3. Weekly responses to questions in readings. At the end of each of the 12 assigned chapters in the Meade textbook, there are questions intended to ensure comprehension. You are to respond to each question and each weekly response is to be uploaded to Blackboard by the assigned date. No late responses will be accepted. This activity is in lieu of in-class discussions of the readings and in lieu of a midterm test and final exam.
  4. Weekly question about podcast lecture. After listening to the podcast, students are to create a question. A good question should focus on a broad theme of the podcast and require a paragraph answer. A weak question would require only a one-word or short answer. This activity is intended to ensure that students attentively listen to all podcasts just as they would to the in-class lectures. Rather than testing students on the content with a midterm test and final exam, getting students to formulate important questions each week is intended to get students to take in the course content. The question should be uploaded to Blackboard by the end of the day of the assigned lecture (podcast).
  5. Weekly answer to a question about podcast lecture. Each Friday, all good questions that students posted about the previous day’s podcast will be posted. Each student is to write a one-paragraph response to that question based exclusively on podcast content. This activity is intended to ensure that students attentively listen to all podcasts just as they would to an in-class lecture. Rather than testing students on the content with a midterm test and final exam, getting students to answer important questions each week is intended to get students to take in the course content. This answer is due by the following Thursday, 6 days after the questions are posted.
  6. Primary document analysis: 3-4 pages. Students are required to critically analyze and discuss how the authors of any three primary documents distributed in the course-kit on Blackboard. They are to discuss a common theme (such as race, gender, colonialism, hardship, etc.). A more detailed description of expectations is posted on Blackboard. Students are welcome to discuss their ideas with me in my office hours on September 19 and by a special Skype session on September 26 (by appointment).
  7. Peer review workshop. Evaluation will be based on attendance and participation on November 21 as well as on bringing a completed draft of the final essay to class. Students will have to attend class and participate in the exercise in order to receive any marks for this assignment. Students need to bring a draft of their final essay (at least 7 pages). Students need to bring three printed copies of their essays. Two will be read by two classmates, and those classmates will give the author feedback. The other essay will be left with Dr. Bryce to ensure that the student has completed a draft of the essay. Revision is an important part of academic writing, and the goal of this exercise is to help students give and receive feedback to peers in order to revise their work.
  8. Historiographic research essay. 8-10 pages. Although the due date is December 5, students should consider November 21 the real deadline and then use the final 2 weeks for revisions. Students will select a topic from a list posted on Blackboard or of their own choice upon consultation with me. They are to write a historiographic research paper, analyzing three themes that run through several scholarly perspectives on the selected essay topic. Students can draw minimally from course readings. However, they need to make use of material beyond the assigned readings. The paper should draw from at least ten journal articles, chapters in edited books, or monographs not assigned in class. This is not an opinion piece nor a summary of a history but rather an analysis of the scholarly arguments. A more detailed description of expectations is posted on Blackboard. Students are welcome to discuss their ideas with me in my office hours on October 24 and by a special Skype session on November 7 and November 14 (by appointment).

Lecture and Reading Overview:

September 5 – Course introduction

  • In-class:
    • Syllabus introduction, course questions, and presentation of all assignments

September 12 – Independence and its Aftermath

  • Podcast:
    • Podcast #1: Independence in Spanish America
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 2, “Latin America in 1790,” 23-48.

September 19 – Caudillismo

  • Podcast:
    • Podcast #2: Caudillismo
  • Readings:
    • Course-kit primary documents (PDFs on Blackboard). These readings will be discussed in class. Doing these readings and participating in the in-class discussion will help you with the assignment.
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 3, “Competing Notions of Freedom,” 49-80.
  • In-class:
    • Map quiz
    • Discussion of primary documents for essay due October 3
    • Discussion of assignment: Primary document analysis

Last day to add/drop courses without financial penalty. Last day to change from audit to credit and credit to audit status. September 18.

September 26 – Indigenous Peoples and Liberal Republics

  • Podcasts:
    • Podcast #3: The Rise of Liberal Republics
    • Podcast #4: The Return of the Native
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 4, “Fragmented Nationalisms,” 81-104.

October 3 – Slavery and Nationhood in Brazil and Cuba in the Nineteenth Century

  • Podcast:
    • Podcast #5: Slavery and Emancipation in Brazil and Cuba
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 5, “Latin America’s Place in the Commodity Chain,” 105-134.

Primary document analysis due on Thursday, October 3

October 10 – Immigration to the Southern Cone

  • Podcast:
    • Podcast #6: Immigration, Labour, and Race in Argentina and Brazil

October 17 – The Mexican Revolution

  • Podcast:
    • Podcast #7: The Mexican Revolution
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 7, “Revolution from Countryside to City, Mexico, 157-174.”

October 24 – Gender and Family

  • Podcasts:
    • Podcast #8: Gender, Sexuality, and Family in Latin America
  • Readings:
    • Ada Ferrer, “Rustic Men, Civilized Nation: Race, Culture, and Contention on the Eve of Cuban Independence,” Hispanic American Historical Review 78 (1998): 663-686.
    • Gabriela Cano, “Unconcealable Realities of Desire: Amelio Robles’s (Transgender) Masculinity in the Mexican Revolution,” in Sex in Revolution: Gender, Politics, and Power in Modern Mexico, edited by Mary Kay Vaughan, Gabriela Cano, Jocelyn Olcott (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007), 35-56.
  • In-class:
    • Discussion of assigned readings. Active participation in the discussion counts toward the participation grade. This discussion is intended to help students prepare for their historiographic research essays.
    • Assignment Description: Peer response activity
    • Assignment Description: Historiographic research essay

Last day to withdraw without academic penalty. October 24.

October 31 – Populism in Latin America

  • Podcast:
    • Podcast #9: Populism in Latin America
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 8, “The Left and the Socialist Alternative,” 175-192.
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 9, “Populism and the Struggle for Change,” 193-212.

November 7 – Latin America and the Cold War

  • Podcast:
    • Podcast #10: Latin America and the Cold War
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 10, “Post-World War II Struggles for Sovereignty,” 213-234.
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 13, “Revolution and Its Alternatives,” 277-304.

November 14 – The Cuban Revolution

  • Podcasts:
    • Podcast #11: The Cuban Revolution
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 11, “Cuba: Guerrillas Take Power,” 235-250.
  • Recommended movie:
    • Che: Part One (2008).

November 21 – Dictatorship and Repression

  • Podcast:
    • Podcast #12: Dictatorship and the Disappeared in the Southern Cone
  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 12, “Progress and Reaction,” 251-276.
  • In-class
    • Peer response activity
    • Discussion of final essay
  • Recommended movie:
    • La historia oficial (The Official Story), Argentina, 1985.

November 28 – End of course

  • Readings:
    • Teresa Meade, Chapter 14, “The Americas in the Twenty-First Century,” 305-334.

Essay due on December 5

Blackboard: This course uses Blackboard. Students are to submit all assignments through Blackboard. Detailed descriptions of the assignments are posted on Blackboard. Students should check this site regularly. Grades will not be posted to the Grade Centre in Blackboard.

SafeAssign: Students are required to submit a digital version of their two essays to SafeAssign through Blackboard. SafeAssign describes itself as “a tool used to prevent plagiarism and to create opportunities to help students identify how to properly attribute sources rather than paraphrase. SafeAssign is effective as both a deterrent and an educational tool. SafeAssign compares submitted assignments against a set of sources to identify areas of overlap between the submitted assignment and existing works.” If you do not want to submit your essay through SafeAssign, you can instead submit scanned copies of all your research notes along with your essay.

Definition of Grades: Papers for this course will be marked according to the scale set by the History Department. An “A” essay is an excellent piece of work, which argues a clearly developed and challenging thesis, the proof of which is grounded in an exceptional usage of relevant primary and/or secondary literature. The research should demonstrate both critical evaluation and creativity while the writing should be sophisticated, coherent, and grammatically sound. In order to receive a final grade in the range of A- to A+, students will be expected to demonstrate consistently: independence of thought; subtle and complex analysis; the ability to grasp, articulate, and respond to arguments offered by others; and an exceptional understanding of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussions.

A “B” essay demonstrates good research skills, a clearly stated thesis, and a generally successful attempt to develop it logically, based upon secondary literature. The research should reflect an above-average development of ideas and criticism, while the writing should be clear and demonstrate a basic competence in organizational skills and grammar. As such, there should be few grammatical or structural errors. In order to receive a final grade in the range of B- to B+, students will be expected to demonstrate: the potential to engage in independent thought; an appreciation of the complexity of the issues under consideration; and a good understanding of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussions.

A “C” essay demonstrates that the author possesses a basic understanding of the material and some of the secondary literature, but has unsuccessfully endeavoured to articulate a thesis. While revealing knowledge, comprehension, and some application of information, usually the work also contains grammatical, structural, and organizational errors or flaws. Overall, the essay is adequate but uninspired. In order to receive a final grade in the range of C- to C+, students will be expected to demonstrate some awareness of the complexity of the issues under consideration and a satisfactory understanding of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussions.

A “D” essay fails to make its case or articulate a thesis. It is marked by a combination of illogical thinking, grammatical errors, flawed research, or a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the assignment. There is little application, analysis, or integration of ideas, and the essay generally fails to demonstrate a working knowledge of the topic at hand. In order to receive a final grade of D, students will be expected to demonstrate minimal competence. Although there may be evidence of an understanding of certain aspects of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussion, there is also evidence of difficulty in applying or communicating this understanding.

An “F” essay is inadequate in that it demonstrates fragmentary and often undigested information. It tends towards compiling rather than analyzing information and reveals a weakness in critical or analytical skills. The use of literature is often severely limited if not inappropriate or irrelevant. Overall, the essay is marked by a profound absence of thinking about the topic or the assignment. In order to receive a final grade of F, students will have failed to give evidence of being intellectually engaged in the subject matter of the course and will have failed to demonstrate even a minimal understanding of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussions.

Evaluation of written work: General comments on the two written essays will be returned via e-mail. Students can meet with Dr. Bryce on October 24 to discuss the primary document analysis and on January 13 to discuss the historiographic research essay. Please read carefully the Definition of Grades (above) before discussing your grade on an assignment with me. If you ask for an assignment to be reconsidered, note that your grade could go either up or down.

E-mail policy: Please use e-mail to communicate with me only for administrative matters. I will respond to e-mails within 48 hours, so please do not leave your inquiries to the last minute. Please do not send a follow up e-mail to see if I got your e-mail. Please take the time to compose a formal e-mail. Assignments will not be accepted by e-mail. Please use your UNBC e-mail address to communicate with me, and please check this e-mail account regularly to receive updates about this course.

Writing centres: Take advantage of the free services offered at the drop-in writing centre in the library ( The Academic Success Centre also provides helpful services to students for free ( 

History majors: Those interested in majoring or minoring in history, please come talk to me during my office hours or after class.

Technology etiquette in the classroom: Laptops may be used in class, but only for note taking. Please turn off your cellphones before class begins. It is inappropriate to surf the web or send text messages during any class at the University of Northern British Columbia.

Submission of written work and lateness penalty: Assignments are due at the end of the day (23:59) on the date specified in this syllabus. Assignments 3, 4, and 5 will not be accepted after the due date. The late submission of an essay (assignments 6 and 8) will be penalized in an exponential manner. For each day an assignment is late, the penalty will be as follows: 2%, 4%, 8%, 16%, 32%, 64%, 100%. This late penalty applies to weekends and holidays as well. No assignments will be accepted after seven days without a valid medical certificate. The Department of History will not be held responsible for any late assignments that go missing. Be sure to retain a copy of your paper and keep all your notes and drafts. If you have extenuating circumstances that will prevent you from submitting your assignment on time, discuss your situation with me well in advance of the due date.

Illness and absences: Notify me as soon as possible if a serious illness or other concern is affecting your ability to keep up with the course. It is also wise to contact the UNBC Wellness Centre or the Registrar’s Office if you are experiencing academic or personal difficulties.

Academic honesty and plagiarism: Authors do not cite sources properly merely to avoid accusations of plagiarism but also to establish credibility, bring other work to the reader’s attention, and demonstrate competing viewpoints.

The University of Northern British Columbia takes academic honesty very seriously.  Any suspected cases of plagiarism will be investigated and academic offences could lead to permanent expulsion from UNBC. More information on the University’s procedures on academic offences can be found here:

The code of academic conduct disallows the following:

  • to represent as one’s own any idea or expression of an idea or work of another in any academic examination or term test or in connection with any other form of academic work, i.e. to commit plagiarism;
  • to submit, without the knowledge and approval of the instructor to whom it is submitted, any academic work for which credit has previously been obtained or is being sought in another course or program of study in the university or elsewhere.

Accessibility and Accommodations: Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. If you have a disability or health consideration that may require course format accommodation, please feel free to approach me to discuss your needs.  If you require accommodations for a disability or if you have accessibility concerns about the course, the classroom, or course materials, please contact the Access Resource Centre for Students with Disabilities at (

Student conduct: The University of Northern British Columbia is an academic community whose purpose is to search for knowledge through teaching, research, and the free exchange of ideas. As such, UNBC is committed to developing among its members an enduring sense of community rooted in a working and learning environment which emphasizes mutual respect and tolerance and which is free from discrimination, harassment, disruptive behaviour, and violence. The members of the UNBC community include students, faculty, staff, administrators, governors, senators, and, in certain contexts, visitors. In order for the members of the university community to participate fully and effectively in the university’s purpose, certain standards of conduct must be recognized and respected. The university’s policy and procedures involving disruptive and/or harassing behaviour by students in academic situations is available on this website: