Slavery in the Americas

This seminar examines the history of slavery throughout the Americas, from the debates over conscripted Amerindian labor and the transplantation of the plantation complex to the new world, to the formation of Creole communities and the roles of international and local actors in slavery’s eventual abolition. Students will explore how divergent local geography, patterns of settlement, religion, and legal systems contributed to the character of slavery in the Americas. Our focus this semester will be the many forms of slave agency and resistance through the eyes of contemporary participants and modern historians. Writing assignments include daily short research and analysis blog posts, an annotated bibliography, a primary source essay, a digital timeline, and an intensive research project. This course fulfills in part the writing requirement for graduation.

Spring 2013

Archived course sites for Slavery in the Americas: 2010

Race & Gender in Latin America

Historians often describe Latin American societies as hierarchical, with strict categories defining how individuals fit into the larger community. In this seminar we’ll examine how different ideas about race, gender, and ethnicity have shaped life in Latin American from the colonial era to the present. We’ll start with a critical analysis of race, class, and gender, and then examine case studies to look both at the historical construction of racial and gendered categories, as well as how individuals have worked to resist these constraints. Themes include the distribution of power in Latin America, mestizaje, gender and slavery, evolving notions of sexual honor, and Latin Americans’ self-expression through art and literature.

Spring 2013

Digital History

This quarter-credit workshop will introduce students to the analytical questions, tools, and approaches of digital history research. We’ll start by examining exemplary digital humanities projects, emphasizing the scholarly contributions of these works. Students will then experiment with a range of tools digital historians use to address big historical issues – including change over time, space and history, and incorporating multiple perspectives – in a digital format. As a final project, students will transform research they’ve completed for another course into a digital project.

Spring 2013

Latin American Revolutions

¡Viva la revolución! Pancho Villa and Che Guevara were heroes to millions, but to others they were violent traitors. If one of the basic questions of history is examining change versus continuity, what better way to understand historical processes than the study of revolutions? This introductory course examines the history of 20th century Latin American revolutions. In addition to considering ideas about how, when, and why people rebel, we’ll focus on case studies from Mexico, Cuba, Chile, and Nicaragua. To what extent are these revolutions the continuation of social, economic, and racial conflicts lingering after the colonial wars of independence? We’ll emphasize both how different historians have interpreted these revolutions, and analyze first-hand accounts from participants. Assignments include reading response blog posts, primary source analyses, and a midterm and final exam.

Fall 2012

Modern Latin America

This course provides a thematic approach to the history of Latin America since the wars of independence. Themes include the consolidation of political rule after independence; the negotiation of abolition and the persistence of racial inequalities; Latin America’s integration into the world economy; populism and mass political mobilization; authoritarianism and human rights; changing patterns of social and gender relations; and international migration and the re-construction of national identity. The majority of the readings will be drawn from primary sources. This semester, we will emphasize popular culture – mass cultural expressions including music, dance, film, and art – as a lens to Latin Americans’ experiences.

This course is roughly chronological. However, because it covers a long amount of time and a region encompassing many nations, it is selective in its choice of themes and case studies. Most of our readings will concentrate on Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. Student research presentations will help ensure a broader geographic focus. The lectures and readings combine discussions of large processes with discussion of particular cases; through this juxtaposition and through a series of readings and discussions, you will develop an understanding of the relationship between the broad historical processes that affected all of Latin America and the particular circumstances that affected the way those processes played out in individual Latin American nations, or in smaller communities within those nations.

Fall 2012

Archived course sites for Modern Latin America: Spring 2011

History of Brazil

This course examines the history of modern Brazil from 1808 to the present, focusing on the negotiation of race, gender, and class in a heterogeneous society. Our readings and discussion will focus on cultural production including novels, films, soap operas, music, and food as a window to Brazilian identity. Themes include Brazilian slavery and the transition to free labor; immigration and the construction of national identity; populism and the cooptation of the Brazilian working classes; state projects for modernization and the construction of Brasilia; the persistence of racial prejudices in a “racial democracy”; authoritarianism, tropicalísmo, and the return to civilian rule; and economic growth and development in a highly stratified society.

Spring 2012

Latin America & the United States

This writing intensive history seminar explores the history of the intimate but often conflictual relationship between the US and Latin America from the early 19th century to the present. Rather than having any pretensions at exhaustive coverage, we will focus on case studies primarily drawn from U.S. relations with Cuba, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, as well as emphasizing the evolving cultural, political, and economic roles of Latino communities within the United States. Students can pick any Latin American country or Latino community for their individual research projects. Students will analyze primary and secondary sources from a variety of perspectives designed to heighten their global awareness. Writing assignments include an annotated bibliography, a historiographical essay, a critical analysis of a primary source, and an intensive research project. This course satisfies in part the writing requirement for graduation.

Spring 2012

Independent Study

In the Department of History, Independent Study is an opportunity for every student to work one-on-one with a faculty mentor investigating the past. You work as a historian to design a research project, gather evidence from primary sources, consider how other historians have analyzed your topic, and present your argument.

Latin American Studies Minor

Latin American Studies combines a multidisciplinary approach to Latin America and the Hispanic Caribbean, Spanish language study, and off-campus study to deepen participating students’ knowledge of the area. Contributing courses are not restricted to the region’s geographic limits but also include the experiences of diasporic communities as well as courses that provide a broader theoretical perspective to help students understand Latin Americans’ diverse lived experiences.

For campus events, course announcements, links to student opportunities, and more information about Latin American Studies at the College of Wooster, see the Latin American Studies blog.

Colonial Latin America

This course examines the history of Latin America from the time of European arrival to the wars of independence. Themes include the encounter between New World, African, and Iberian societies; the transformation of indigenous social, religious, economic, and political frameworks; the creation and maintenance of institutions of colonial rule; the evolution of the Atlantic world economy; and the creation of new Latin American cultures and identities. While lectures provide the necessary context for these historical processes, students will make extensive use of primary sources to build their own interpretations of colonial Latin America.

As a class we will analyze and problematize many of the concepts historians employ to explain the construction of new identities in Colonial Latin America, including hybridity, conversion, syncretism, and diaspora. We will also explore the tools and analytical frameworks that digital historians employ in making sense of the past.

Fall 2011

FYS: Mapping the Americas – Encounters & the Construction of Identity

This first year seminar will explore the history of American encounters, looking at how individuals have visually and textually “mapped” their own identities in relation to their social and physical environment over the past five hundred years. We’ll read travelers’ accounts, examine the history of map making and visual representations, and consider theories explaining how colonists as well as more modern travelers sought to fit new peoples and cultures into familiar categories. Readings include Lewis and Clark’s journals, David Grann’s The Lost City of Z, Monmonier’s How to Lie with Maps, Katharine Harmon’s You Are Here: Personal Geographies and other Maps of Imagination, Dolores Hayden’s A Field Guide to Sprawl, selections from Nicholas Feltron’s annual reports, as well as Latin American travelogues.

Together we will examine the long history of maps and mapmaking, consider how scholars use digital mapping technologies to ask new questions about patterns in their data, and produce our own maps of social and intellectual networks. As a final project, students will create their own portfolio of maps to visually display their engagement with the “new world” of the larger Wooster community and their lives as college students.

Fall 2011


Women’s Lives in Latin American History

This course employs feminist perspectives to analyze the economic, social, cultural, and political developments shaping women’s lives in Latin America from the pre-Columbian era to the present. Emphasis will be placed on the similarities and differences in the lives of women of different racial, economic, and social groups. Themes include gender and the distribution of power in Latin America, mestizaje (racial “mixture), women and slavery, evolving notions of female sexual honor, women’s self-expression through art and literature, and women’s participation in popular movements.

Spring 2011

Global History

This course looks at the new field of global history. Global history is often grouped with World History, which examines the history of diverse cultures over time. In contrast, global history is somewhat more focused. It examines a set of historical problems that include the interactions between different cultures, the ways that those interactions have changed over time, and the ways that those interactions have changed the course of history. Like World History, however, global history attempts to move away from the emphasis on European and North American History that was standard in most history courses until very recently. Also like World History it attempts to shed light on the role that global, transnational and cross-cultural forces have long played in history.

Fall 2009

FYS: Global Cities

In 1800, only three percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas; today, the total is more than half. Over four hundred cities have populations of more than one million people, most of them in the “developing” world. How has this sudden urbanization transformed life in cities like Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Lagos, Beijing, Tokyo, Mumbai, Jakarta, and Mexico City? This seminar will explore the daily interactions between people and their built environments worldwide as expressed in literature, music, film, architecture, and government reports. Questions for discussion include the development of ancient cities, representations of the city in art, the contestation of urban spaces, the incorporation of racial minorities, urban flight and the development of elite residential enclaves, rebuilding cities after disasters, and visions for the city of the future.
Spring 2006