Course Syllabus

History 3398, Section 001

M/W 12:30-1:45, Fall 2010

Colonial Latin America

JO 4.102


Professor Contact Information

Dr. Monica Rankin

JO 5.204

(972) 883-2005

Mobile: (972) 822-5375

[email protected]


Office Hours: M/W 11:30-12:30 or by appointment

Course Description

This course is designed to give students an overview of the political, economic, social, and cultural history of Latin America from the pre-Conquest era to the end of Independence (roughly 1821). Broadly speaking, each week’s material will be presented in a chronological fashion, but within those broad chronological divisions, we will be examining material thematically. We will specifically focus on the different themes that affected the way life and society were organized during the colonial period, and how these themes were interrelated.


Student Learning Objectives/Outcomes


Required Textbooks and Materials

Textbook:  Mark Burkholder and Lyman Johnson, Colonial Latin America, 7th  ed, Oxford University Press, 2009.  ISBN: 0195386059


Essay Reader:  Kenneth Andrien, ed. The Human Tradition in Colonial Latin America, SR Books, 2002.  ISBN: 0-8420-2888-9


Essay Reader:  Lyman Johnson, et. al., eds. The Faces of Honor: Sex, Shame, and Violence in Colonial Latin America, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998.  ISBN: 0-8263-1906-8.


Primary Document Reader:  Richard Boyer, et. al., eds.  Colonial Lives: Documents on Latin America History, 1550-1850, New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.  ISBN: 0-19-512512-6.




Class Participation: All students are expected to participate in class discussions by incorporating information from assigned readings and class lectures.  Students’ participation should be constructive and contribute to the overall discussion.  Please consider quality as well as quantity in class discussions.  Formal class discussions will take place on most Mondays.  Discussions will be based on reading assignments out of the Andrien, Johnson, and Boyer books.  Generally those assignments will correspond to the previous day’s lecture, so you will hear a lecture over a given topic and then read one or more chapters related to that topic after hearing the basic narrative.  Students will prepare reading response journals and use those notes, comments, etc. as the basis for class discussion.



Reading Response:  Students will prepare a reading response journal for each secondary reading assigned from the Andrien and Johnson volumes.  (***Please note:  no response papers are required from the Burkholder text.) The papers should include a brief summary stating the author’s main argument, followed by general points that tie the readings and lectures together.  These papers should be typed and prepared prior to class meetings.  Students will also prepare a response for each of the primary documents assigned from the Boyer volume.  These responses should include the most important points students have identified from the primary documents and a brief analysis of how the documents relate to lecture and other readings. Any readings posted on E-Reserve or distributed in class should be included in the response journals.


Each response journal should be approximately 2-4 typed pages, double-spaced.  They do not need to be written as formal essays.  Instead, think of them as a set of notes to provide quick reference to reading material for in-class discussions and in writing the mid-term and final papers. 


PLEASE NOTE: typed response papers will be collected at the end of each discussion.  Only students who have signed the attendance sheet for that day’s class will be allowed to turn in response papers.  If you miss class or if you arrive extremely late your paper will not be accepted.  There are NO make-ups allowed for reading response papers.  I will drop your lowest response paper score at the end of the semester in lieu of accepting late papers.


Reading responses will be graded with a check/check + (or pass/fail) system and will be incorporated into the participation portion of the final grade.  See my website for suggested topics for response papers.


For most chapters, I will post specific questions on the course website (accessible at  You may choose to follow the guide I provide, but it is NOT necessary to answer the questions on the website.  You may respond to the readings in any constructive way that contributes to an overall understanding of the material. 



Map Quiz: A map quiz will be administered in the first weeks of the semester.  This quiz will test your knowledge of colonial administrative divisions in Latin America, major cities, and bodies of water.  An exam guide will be posted on the course website.  Quiz date is listed on the course schedule.



Formal Essay – Primary Document Analysis:  A major formal essay project will be due late in the semester and will account for a large portion of the final grade in this course.  The project should be an in-depth essay analysis of primary and secondary readings of your choice.  The formal essay should address a well-defined theme or issue of your choice (subject to instructor approval) that pertains to material we are covering in class.  Some possible themes (and corresponding documents) are listed at the beginning of the Boyer volume assigned for the course.  Your project should be based on one or more primary documents (this number is flexible depending on your theme) and appropriate secondary sources (not including your textbook).  Each essay must contain a historical argument about the overall theme in the form of a thesis statement.  Please keep in mind that a historical argument is more than a statement of fact or a narrative of a historical event.  Instead it should attempt to analyze the material in a critical manner.  You should avoid “arguing” in terms of good/bad, right/wrong.  A historical argument examines the importance of the material.  Due dates for topic approval (brief outline) and for the final draft of the formal essay are listed on the course schedule. 


Please use the following guidelines in preparing your essay:


Length: The essay should be approximately 5 pages in length (excluding cover sheet and bibliography). It must be typed in a 12-point font and double-spaced with margins no greater than 1.25”.  Each essay must include a cover sheet with the following information: your name, the course number and section, the instructor’s name, and the title of your paper.  

Primary Sources:  You may choose any topic within the time period covered in class, as long as there are sufficient primary documents and secondary sources available to write a cohesive essay.  I suggest consulting the primary documents collection in the Boyer volume assigned for the course.  I have placed an alternate book of primary sources for the colonial period on reserve at McDermott Library.  See Kenneth Mills, Colonial Latin America: A Documentary History for additional sources.  Finally, there are several reputable websites with translated texts of primary documents relating to colonial Latin America.  Links to these sources are on the course website.  You may use other primary sources aside from those listed above if they are more pertinent to your theme or topic.  I do not require you to have those topics approved by me, but it is a good idea to talk with me about your topic before the due date to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Secondary Sources:  Each essay MUST also include references from scholarly secondary sources.  Scholarly secondary sources include monographs (a history of a narrow topic written as a secondary source—not a textbook), chapters from anthologies (such as Andrien and Johnson), or articles from scholarly journals.  The purpose of the paper is to make a historical argument about the primary documents by placing them in a historical context (who, what, where) and to offer your analysis of their historical significance. This will require the use of secondary sources.  The articles MUST be used in your paper, not just listed in the bibliography. You MUST include notes in your paper which indicate the sources of your information. See below for information on citing sources and consult the Citation Manager on the McDermott Library web site.

NOTE: Do not use encyclopedias or web sites, however reputable, as sources of secondary information. In particular, do not use Wikipedia as a source in your essay—it is not a scholarly source (often articles on Wikipedia contain factual errors).  The one exception to this is the use of articles from on-line, peer-reviewed academic journals available through the university library. J-STOR,  Project Muse, and Academic Search Premier are useful sources for electronic journals. Note that you must gain access to them through the library server as the university has a subscription to them.  DO NOT use popular magazines of any kind as your secondary sources.  A good rule of thumb:  if an essay does not have footnotes, it is not a scholarly work.

Citations:  Your essay MUST include appropriate citations.  You should use either MLA style (parenthetical citations) or Chicago style (footnotes) in your essay.  I do not have a preference, as long as you are consistent and CORRECT in the style you choose.  See the library website and/or my website for links to style manuals and citation guides.  The library also has the Citation Manager to help ensure proper citation style.

Formal Writing: These are to be FORMAL essays and they will be graded as such.  This means that in addition to content and analysis of the material, each essay will be graded for organization, style, grammar, spelling—basically correct usage of the English language.  Formal essays should be POLISHED.  They should flow in a logical manner with a clear and concise argument.  A good argument or analysis can quickly become lost in poor writing, leading to frustration on the part of the reader.  There are a variety of tools available to assist in the “writing” part of the formal essay.  First, consult the writing guide posted on my website.  It includes suggestions for organization and useful grammar tips.  You may also make use of the Writing Center located in the GEMS Center.  Writing experts can help you to identify grammar and style mistakes, and they can assist you with proper citations.  There is no charge for using the Writing Center, and I encourage all of you to become familiar with their services.  The contact information is listed below:


UTD Writing Center

CN 1.126

Appts: (972) 883-6707





Exams:  The exams in this class will be take-home exams.  They will comprise various ID terms that must be defined and tied to specific examples from the assigned readings.  I will provide students with exam questions and thorough instructions in advance.  Exams will be due on the days listed in the course schedule.  They must be typed and uploaded to


Writing Format:  All journal entries and exams must be typed with 12-point font and all pages should be stapled.  Exams must be double-spaced, journals may be either double or single spaced.  Your name, course number, assignment description, date, and my name should appear at the top LEFT corner of the first page for journal entries.  All exams should include a cover page with the above information.  Exams must follow the format for formal academic writing.  In addition to content, exams will also be graded for suitable grammar, appropriate style, and proper mechanics.    Formal citations are not necessary in exams, but I urge you not to resort to direct quotes.  Please do not use outside sources on exams.  Your notes, textbooks, and other reading assignments are sufficient to write a proper exam.  Any use of outside sources will be considered plagiarism.  You should make obvious from where you are taking your examples in the exams, and all examples should come from readings that have been assigned in class.    Please see Kate Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations for a guide to grammar and stylistic concerns in formal writing (see also  You may also see my website for general writing tips.  All exams must be uploaded to by midnight on the due date.


Grading Policy

The grading in this course is based on two exams, a formal essay, a map quiz, weekly reading responses, and class participation.  The breakdown of the grading is as follows:


                        Midterm Exam                                                 100 points

                        Final Exam                                                      100 points

                        Map Quiz                                                          50 points

                        Primary Document Essay                                 100 points

                        Class Participation                                           100 points

                        Total                                                                450 points


Course & Instructor Policies

There is no formal attendance policy in this class, but I will distribute a sign-in sheet each day to help track class participation.  Please keep in mind that it is not possible to “make-up” class participation.  If you are not physically (and mentally) present in the classroom, it will affect your participation grade.  Furthermore, past experience has proven that students who attend class regularly tend to earn higher grades.  I frequently include information in my lectures that is not necessarily covered in your reading.  It behooves you to be present to listen to lectures and participate in class.  Finally, please refrain from disruptive behavior such as arriving late, departing early, talking, sleeping, reading the newspaper, etc. (I reserve the right to add to this list as needed).


No late assignments will be accepted and there is no make-up policy for in-class work.  I will drop the two lowest reading response journal scores at the end of the semester.  If you have missed any journals, those scores will be dropped.  There will be no exceptions to this rule.  I will NOT accept final versions of any assignments as e-mail attachments.


A paper copy (typed) of all journal responses must be turned in at the end of class on the due date.  All exams and the formal essay must be uploaded to by 11:59 pm on the due date.  Class will not meet on the days that exams and the formal essay are due.


All assignments for this class are mandatory.  Materials used in this course have been carefully selected for their scholarly value, but some audiences may take offense at topics of a sensitive nature.  There will be NO substitutions of readings, films, documents, presentations, and/or other course requirements to suit personal preferences and/or sensitivities.  There are NO EXCEPTIONS to this rule.


UTD Syllabi Policies:

For University Syllabi Policies, please see: :



Academic Calendar:

The following schedule outlines the topics and reading assignments for each class.  This schedule is subject to change.  Any changes made to the schedule and/or any other course requirements will be announced in class and will be posted on the course website:



Week 1

Introduction to Course




Lecture 1: Pre-Conquest Spain






Week 2

Lecture 2: A 3-D View of the Aztec Empire



Textbook Reading: Burkholder, Chapter 1




Lecture 3: Maya and Inca Civilizations


Textbook Reading: Burkholder, Chapter 1


Journal #1 Reading Assignment:

Johnson, Introduction and Chapter 1

Primary Document on Aztec Civilization

Andrien, Introduction

Primary Documents on Maya and Inca






Week 3

Labor Day – NO CLASS






Discussion of Journal #1

Turn in Journal #1




Week 4

Lecture 4: Conquest of Mexico


Textbook Reading: Burkholder, Chapter 2, pp. 52-59


Journal #2 Reading Assignment:

Andrien, Chapter 1

Boyer, Chapter 3






Discussion of Journal #2

Turn in Journal #2




Week 5

Lecture 5: Conquest of South America


Textbook Reading: Burkholder Chapter 2 to end


Journal #3 Reading Assignment:

Andrien, Chapter 2

Boyer, Chapter 2




Discussion of Journal #3

Turn in Journal #3





Week 6

Lecture 6: Consolidation of Conquest


Textbook Reading: None


Journal #4 Reading Assignment:

Andrien, Chapters 4 and 5

Boyer, Chapters 4 and 5






Discussion of Journal #4

Turn in Journal #4





Week 7

Mid-term exam due to by 11:59 pm

Class ID: 3427534

Password: honor







Lecture 7: Colonial Administration: Church and Crown


Textbook Reading: Burkholder, Chapter 3


Journal #5 Reading Assignment:

Andrien, Chapter 6

Johnson, Chapter 2

Boyer, Chapter 7





Week 8

Discussion of Journal #5

Turn in Journal #5










Lecture 8: Colonial Society


Textbook Reading:  Burkholder, Chapters 6-8


Journal #6 Reading Assignment:

Johnson, Chapters 3 and 4

Boyer, Chapter 6




Discussion of Journal #6

Turn in Journal #6



Week 9

Lecture 9: Indigenous People in Colonial Latin America


Textbook Reading: Burkholder, Chapter 4, pp. 123-143


Journal #7 Reading:

Andrien, Chapter 9

Johnson, Chapter 6

Boyer, Chapter 12




Discussion of Journal #7

Turn in Journal #7





Week 10

Lecture 10: Slavery in Colonial Latin America


Textbook Reading: Burkholder, Chapter 4 to end


Journal #8 Reading Assignment:

Andrien, Chapter 7

Johnson, Chapter 8

Boyer, Chapter 20





Discussion of Journal #8

Turn in Journal #8







Week 11

Lecture 11: Economic Development in the Colonies


Textbook Reading: Burkholder Chapter 5


No Journal reading






Brief in-class presentation

Turn in topic, source, thesis, brief outline








Week 12

Lecture 12: Preludes to Independence


Textbook Reading: Burkholder, Chapter 9


Journal #9 Reading Assignment:

Andrien, Chapter 14

Johnson, Chapter 5

Boyer, Chapter 16





Discussion of Journal #9

Turn in Journal #9





Week 13

Lecture 14: The Age of Reform


Textbook Reading: Burkholder, Chapter 9


Journal #10 Reading Assignment:

Andrien, Chapter 11

Johnson, Chapter 7

Boyer, Chapter 21




Formal Paper due at by 11:59 pm

Class ID: 3427534

Password: honor






Week 14

Turn in Journal #10


Lecture 13: Brazil and Haiti


Textbook Reading: Burkholder, Chapter 10


Journal #11 Reading Assignment:

Andrien, Chapter 13

Boyer, Chapter 11




Discussion of Journal #11

Turn in Journal #11





Week 15

Lecture 15: Wars of Independence


Textbook Reading: Burkholder, Chapter 11






Upload to by 11:59 pm

Class ID: 3427534

Password: honor