HIS 3326-01W:   Colonial Latin America

3:30-4:45pm    Spring 2006


Dr. Colleen A. Vasconcellos

Office: TLC 3202     Phone: 678-839-6043     Email: cvasconc@westga.edu

Office Hours:  MW 11am-3pm, TR 12:30-2, and by appointment


Text Books: (all on reserve in the library and available in the bookstore)

~Mark Burkholder and Lyman L. Johnson, Colonial Latin America 3rd Edition (Oxford)

~Leslie Bethel, ed. Colonial Brazil (Cambridge)

~Bartolomé de las Casas, An Account of the Destruction of the Indies (Penguin)

~Anna Lanyon, Malinche’s Conquest (Allen & Unwin)


*additional readings will be provided during the course of the semester, and they will be either handed out or put on reserve.


Course Description and Learning Outcomes

This course on Colonial Latin America covers the Spanish and Portuguese colonial experience in the new world from 1492 until Independence. The course will emphasize the political, religious, and cultural history of the Viceroyalty of New Spain (present-day Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean). Discussion of Spanish and Portuguese possessions in South America will be limited. The course will focus heavily on primary sources that will allow us to understand the “colonial encounter” between European, Native American and African in the New World.


The learning outcomes for this course are as follows. Students will develop a basic knowledge of colonial Latin American history and will familiarize themselves with methods of historical inquiry. Students will also improve their writing and critical thinking skills through in-class exam essays, as well as both formal and informal written assignments, class discussion, and careful reading of primary and secondary sources.  


NOTE: A “W” designation after a section number of a 3000- or 4000-level course signifies that the course is a Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) course.  WAC accepts as a guiding principle the idea that writing is a valuable tool for learning and communication.  Therefore, the writing components of a course so designated are designed to help you learn the material and communicate what you have learned.  Students are required to take two “W” courses for an undergraduate degree in the College of Arts and Sciences.


Class Policies


Cell Phones

TURN THEM OFF!!!  If you need to have it on for emergency purposes, please set the ring to vibrate only.  If I hear it ring, you will be asked to leave the class.


Attendance and Tardiness

I will not be taking attendance in this class.  You are all adults.  Please keep in mind, however, that excessive absence will affect your class participation grade.  Excessive lateness is disruptive to the class, affecting your fellow students as well as me.  If for any reason you need to leave early, please let me know ahead of time.  In short, come to class on time and stay for the entire class.  If you miss a class, I suggest you borrow notes from a classmate.  Study groups are also encouraged, and will be of great benefit come exam time.


Academic Honesty

Students must abide by the University of West Georgia’s policy on Academic Dishonesty. Failure to do so will result in a failing grade for the course. Disruptive or disrespectful classroom behavior may lead to removal from the course. Attendance is not mandatory, but it is highly recommended that you come to all classes.


Students who are found to have plagiarized on a paper or otherwise cheated on an assignment will receive a failing grade for the course and their name will be passed along to the Chair of the History Department.


Grading and Assignments 

Research Paper (20%) * (WTC assignment)

Paper on de las Casas (15%)* (WTL assignment)

Paper on Malinche’s Conquest (15%)* (WTL assignment)

Mid term exam (15%) (In class-bring blue books)

Final Exam (20%)  

Class Participation (15%)


*Specifics of Assignments will be discussed during second day of class


WTC or Writing To Communicate denotes at least one formal writing assignment appropriate to the discipline.  I will offer constructive feedback, which will lead to a high quality finished product.  The paper will be evaluated on content, form, grammar, and spelling and should represent a sustained effort on the part of the student.


WTL or Writing to Learn exercises will help students realize the idea-generating potential of writing and its value.  Primarily, these papers will help students focus their ideas as they prepare to write formal, WTC activities.  Further, by completing WTL activities, students will gain practice in the sort of single-draft writing expected of them in exam situations or quick-draft career writing projects.


You must keep up with reading assignments. Students are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the material assigned for that day. If you are having difficulty with note taking, reading or the essays, I strongly encourage you to promptly come speak with me so that I can direct you to the appropriate on-campus resource. All writing assignments must be typed in 12 point print with one inch margins.  No late papers will be accepted, and I will not accept papers sent by attachment or on disk.   Each paper is due at the end of class on the date it is due.


Learning Resources

·        For help with writing: Writing Center (TLC, the Parkman Room, #1201)
www.westga.edu/~writing or www.westga.edu/~wac


·        For general help with study skills, writing and reading: EXCEL CENTER




Tentative Class Schedule

Please note that this schedule could change at any time due to unforeseen circumstances.


Week One

1/10     Introduction

1/12     Pre-Columbian America  Readings:  B&J Ch 1 


 Week Two

1/17     The Iberian Context  Readings:  B&J Ch 1 

1/19     Conquest of the New World  Readings:  B&J Ch 1; Brazil p.1-7


Week Three

1/24     Conquest of Mexico  Readings:  Stuart Schwartz, “Forebodings and Omens”

(on reserve); B&J Ch 2        

1/26     Conquest of Mexico  Readings:  Selections from E. Bradford Burns, “The Encounter” in Latin America:  Conflict and Creation (on reserve); B&J Ch 2


Week Four

1/31     Discussion of Malinche’s Conquest  Malinche Paper Due

2/2       Conquest of Peru  Readings:  B&J Ch 2


Week Five

2/7       Conquest of Peru  Readings:  B&J Ch 2; Selections from E. Bradford Burns,

“The Encounter” in Latin America:  Conflict and Creation (on reserve)

2/9       Conquest and Settlement of Colonial Brazil   Readings:  Brazil p. 7-28


Week Six

2/14      The Black Legend and The Columbian Exchange  Readings:  Selections from

Noble David Cook, Born to Die and Alfred E. Crosby’s Ecological Imperialism (on reserve) Happy Valentine’s Day!

2/16     Discussion of Las Casas  Las Casas Paper due




Week Seven

2/21     Colonial Economy and Society  Readings:  B&J Ch. 3

2/23     The Church and Colonial Society  Readings:  B&J Ch. 3; Patricia Seed, “The

Requirement” (on reserve)  Research paper topics due


Week Eight

2/27     Population and Labor  Readings:  B&J Ch 4&5 (to page 132); Brazil Ch 5

3/2       MID-TERM EXAM   Don’t forget to bring a Blue Book


Week Nine

3/7       The Atlantic Slave Trade  Readings:  No assigned readings, lecture only

3/9       Plantation Society in Latin America  Readings:  B&J Ch 5; Brazil Ch 3


Week Ten

3/14     Watch La Ultima Cena

3/16     Finish La Ultima Cena and discuss


Week Eleven

3/20-3/24         SPRING BREAK—NO CLASSES


Week Twelve

3/28     Race and Class in Latin America   Readings:   B&J Ch 6

3/30      Women and Family in Colonial Latin America  Readings:   B&J Ch. 7


Week Thirteen

4/4       Colonial Life in Latin America   Readings:  B&J Ch 8

4/6       The Latin American Frontier   Readings:  B&J Ch 9; Brazil Ch. 4    


Week Fourteen

4/11     Class Discussion of Research Papers.  Bring proposals and bibliographies.

4/13     Late Colonial Brazil   Readings:  Brazil Ch 6 & 7


Week Fifteen   

4/18     Bourbon Reforms and Revolution    Readings:  B&J Ch. 10

4/20     Independence and Its Legacies   Readings:  Selections from E. Bradford Burns, “Patterns for Power,” in Latin America:  Conflict and Creation (on reserve)


Week Sixteen

4/25     Presentation of Papers

4/27     Presentation of Papers 


FINAL EXAM: The final exam will be in the form of a take home exam.  It is due in my mailbox no later than 5p on May 5. The exam will not be accepted without the following pledge followed by the student’s signature: “I have neither given nor received assistance during the course of this exam.”