SMC Core Curriculum Course ProposalFall 2013

  1. Name of proponent: Professor Myrna Santiago
  2. E-Mail address:
  3. Department of proponent: History
  4. Name of Department hosting the course: History
  5. Name of Department Chair: Myrna Santiago
  6. Course Information: History 151: Latin American Women’s History
  7. Semester in which the course will be offered: Fall 2014
  8. How often is this course taught: Every other year
  9. Course prerequisites: None
  10. Unit value of course: One
  11. Proper audience for course: sophomores, juniors, seniors
  12. The learning goals for which the course is being submitted: Engaging the World: Global Perspectives, Option 2

Teaching Narrative for Global Perspectives, Option 2

The course examines the history of women in Latin America, either in selected countries or of specific women (see syllabi for the two variants of this course) from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. In terms of content, the course asks students to examine how the lives of Latin American women were affected by historical forces and how, in turn, women shaped history in their countries of origin. Students are asked to analyze the tension between the individual and economic, political, social, and cultural structures and how the interplay between the two gave rise to histories that may not have been recorded until quite recently (the twentieth century). The key questions the course asks are: what brought women out of the private sphere of home and family into the public arena of politics? The follow up question that guides the course is, then, what happened when women, individually or collectively, became involved in the public sphere? Did anything change in the private sphere? Did anything change in the public sphere? Because the course covers either several countries or several individual women, students will use a comparative framework to study the history of women. That means that they will be asked to identify what changed over time that made the history of women different from one century to the next and from one country to the next. By design, the entire course asks students to follow Latin American points of view, which by definition are non-US and non-Western European (although there is debate about that which is acknowledged in the course through the pertinent cases). Throughout the course, students identify how women from different Latin American countries understood their own socio-economic realities and what ideas or theories they used to critique their own societies (some of these were European ideas, e.g. Marxism). At the same time the written assignments all prompt students to articulate viewpoints from Latin American authors (although they will work with viewpoints from United States authors as well).

Learning Narrative for Global Perspectives

The course will use oral participation and three papers to evaluate students’ progress in learning how Latin American women interpreted their realities and organized to change them. Using a Socratic method, I aim to steer oral participation in the direction of discussing Latin American women’s experiences, their ideas about the proper roles for women in society and how those changed over time. Thus the requirements for participation are stringent and student participation is carefully monitored. The students’ understanding of Latin American perspectives deepens over time as they move from one case to the next and make comparisons. Here the instructor’s task is to make sure students keep in mind how historical change takes place and how women’s perceptions of themselves and their roles in society changed, focusing on the socio-political processes that inspired or prompted such changes. The conversation is cumulative at that point, even though the concepts remain the same at heart. Three writing assignments, increasing in length, focus on the constituent parts of the learning goal: defining terms and articulating someone else’s point of view accurately before moving to critique mode.

Two syllabi are attached by way of samples of the two variants of this course: the multi-country approach or the biography, memoir and testimony alternative.

History 151: Women in Modern Latin American History: Mexico, Argentina, and Cuba

Course Content. The lives of women were not always the focus of history books, yet it is impossible to deny that their experience and their actions were part and parcel of the history of their nations. In this course, we explore how the lives of women were affected by historical forces and how, in turn, women shaped historical events in three countries--Mexico, Argentina, and Cuba. The learning objective of the course is to analyze the tension between the individual and economic, political, social, and cultural structures and how the interplay between the two gave rise to history. Special emphasis will be placed on figures or events that highlighted the participation of women in history, asking the question: how did women interpret their own realities and what brought them out of the private sphere of home and family into the public arena of politics? The follow up question that guides course content is what happened when women, individually and collectively, became involved in the public sphere? Did their participation change their perspectives of themselves and make a difference in their private lives and in the life of the nation?

The periodization of the course is a rough chronological order, beginning with Mexico and the iconic women of the conquest and the colony, Malinche, the virgin of Guadalupe, and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. A collective turn follows, examining the role of the soldaderas in the Mexican revolution (1910-1920), with a close look at Frida Kahlo and her art in the context of her time. The unit closes with an examination of the effects of capitalist development on women workers, particularly maquiladora workers, and a discussion of the disturbing development known as “femicide” along the U.S.-Mexico border. Argentina will be the next case, starting with the roles of women at the turn of the 20th century and the society that shaped its most famous and powerful individual woman, Eva Perón. We will explore Evita’s life and time through biography then shift to the collective known as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and their role in Argentina’s history. Lastly, the class will look at Cuba and its socialist revolution through the experience of women, asking the same questions throughout: does history look different when the focus is on the female population? In other words, do interpretations of history change when the focus of the historian is woman?

Method. The professor will use a version of the Socratic method to run this upper division course, largely seminar style with mini-lectures as necessary. That means students must be prepared to answer questions in class on a daily basis.

Learning outcomes. Students in this course will work on the skills of the historian. They will periodize the major economic, social, and political events in Mexican history from colonial times to the present; and in twentieth century Argentina and Cuba. They will define terms (including 19th century liberalism, capitalism, anarchism, socialism, patriarchy, feminism, desaparecidos, neo-liberalism, and femicide) and identify their application in each case, paying close attention to origins, multiple causation, and effects. They will be able to locate all three countries on the map to gain an appreciation for geography. They will also be able to distinguish genres of texts, including biography, art history, sociological approaches to history, and testimony, as well as primary and secondary sources. They will become familiar with debates about women’s history in Latin America (i.e., historiography) and the role of feminism both in women’s lives and in the writing of history itself, including the women’s own perspectives on feminism and its meanings. Students will practice analyzing visual material critically (photographs, art, and film) and express themselves orally with confidence, sophistication, and poise. Lastly, students will learn to develop their own historical questions and answer them in writing.

Assessment. Grades measure performance, not personality or any other quality. Thus, preparation is essential and demonstration is crucial. Students demonstrate their learning in two ways: participation in class and writing. Participation consists participating in daily class discussion (20%), demonstrating not only that the student read the text, but also that he/she thought about it critically and is able to raise questions, answer the professor’s questions, and comment on the material based on textual references. For that reason, attendance is mandatory, but not sufficient. Three absences will deduct one whole grade for the course. Students are required to attend two history-sponsored co-curricular events outside of class. The professor will make note of attendance. Such events are an integral part of a college education and developing the habit of life-long learning.

Students will write three papers. Two will be 6 pages of text, plus additional pages for footnotes at the end (“endnotes”) and a bibliography (25% each). The third paper will be 9-10 pages of text, plus additional pages for footnotes at the end and a bibliography (30%). Instructions are attached. Papers must be turned in as hard copies on the day they are due. Neither e-mailed nor late papers will be accepted. Drafts are encouraged, re-writes are not (but the professor may mandate them in exceptional cases). All grades are final.

Class Etiquette. Education is a serious and professional affair. Therefore classroom demeanor should be up to par: no tardiness, no early departures, no walking out of the classroom for any reason; no food (drinks are fine), no cell phones, no pajamas. Computers will be allowed unless they become a distraction or a nuisance. The professor will determine what a distraction is and what constitutes a nuisance. Breaking class etiquette rules will result in a diminished participation grade. Agreement on issues and ideas is not expected; respect for each other’s opinions is. Remember the following: if classes do not make you intellectually uncomfortable, you are not learning.

Final reminder: education is your profession. If you miss work, arrive late, leave early, walk in and out of your place of employment, and do not perform, you get fired. The same holds for class: you fail.

Policy regarding disabilities:

Student Disability Services extends reasonable and appropriate accommodations that take into account the context of the course and its essential elements, for individuals with qualifying disabilities. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the Student Disability Services Director at (925) 631-4164 to set up a confidential appointment to discuss accommodation guidelines and available services. Additional information regarding the services available may be found at the following address on the Saint Mary’s website:

Required Readings:

Julia TuñónPablos, Women in Mexico: A Past Unveiled

Elena Poniatowska, Las Soldaderas: Women of the Mexican Revolution

Raquel Tibol, Frida Kahlo: An Open Life

Norma Iglesias Prieto, Beautiful Flowers of the Maquiladora: Life Histories of Women Workers in Tijuana

Nicholas Fraser and Maryssa Navarro, Evita

Marguerite GuzmánBouvard, Revolutionizing Motherhood: The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo

*Items on reserve will be available at the library, both in hard copy and eventually on e-reserve

Highly recommended:

Mary Lynn Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, 6th edition

Class Schedule

Week 1: Introduction: Women in History / Women and History


Historiography and the Romanticizing of the Past

Read before class: TuñónPablos, Introduction and Ch 1

Definitions due before class: archetype, patriarchy

Week 2: The Conquest and its Consequences

TuñónPablos, Ch2; *Stafford Poole, “The Woman of the Apocalypse,”

*Elizabeth Salas, “Servants, Traitors, and Heroines,” pp. 11-25

Women in the 19th Century

TuñónPablos, Chs 3-4

Definitions: liberalism, capitalism, anarchism, feminism

Week 3: Revolution and Representation of Women

TuñónPablos, Ch 5; Poniatowska, all

Definition: revolution

Biography: Frida

Tibol, Chs 1-3

Week 4:Art, Politics, Heroism

Tibol, Chs 5-7; *Nancy Deffebach, “Frida Kahlo: The Heroism of Private Life”

Capitalist Development

TuñónPablos, Ch 6 and Conclusion; Pablo Iglesias, Foreword and Introduction

Definition: paternalism

Week 5:Capitalism, Globalization, and Women

Iglesias Prieto, Chs 1-4

Women Workers in the Global Capitalist Economy

Iglesias Prieto, Chs 5-8

Week 6:Capitalism, Globalization, Death

*Elvia R. Arriola, “Accountability for Murder in the Maquiladoras”

*Alicia Gaspar de Alba, “Poor Brown Female: The Miller’s Compensation for

‘Free’ Trade”

Definitions: misogyny, femicide


Women and Structures

*Donna Guy, “Women, Peonage, and Industrialization: Argentina 1810-1914”

*Sandra McGee Deutsch, “The Catholic Church, Work, and Womanhood in

Argentina, 1890-1930”

*Donald Castro, “Women in the World of the Tango”

Week 7:Paper on Mexico due

Biography: The Individual and Her Times

Fraser and Navarro, Chs 1-3

Evita and His/tory

Fraser and Navarro, Chs 4-6

Week 8: Evita and Herstory?

Fraser and Navarro, Chs 7-9

Death, Myth, Movies: Heroism?

Fraser and Navarro, Chs 10-11, epilogue

Week 9: Motherhood and Dictatorship

Guzmán Bouvard, Introduction, Chs 1-2

Definition: desaparecido

Los desaparecidos

GuzmánBouvard, Chs 3-4

Week 10:Mothers and Politics

GuzmánBouvard, Chs 5-6

Revolutionizing Motherhood

GuzmánBouvard, Chs 7-8

Week 11:Women and Political Power

GuzmánBouvard, Chs 9-10; *Marie Trigona, “Argentina’s Mothers of the Plaza

DeMayo Pass on a Legacy of Defending Human Rights,” March 9, 2006;

*Indira A.R.Lakshmanam, “ ‘Recovered Grandchildren’ of Argentina Seek

Truth,” The BostonGlobe, January 15, 2007


Women before 1959: Cause?

*Lois Smith and Alfred Padula, “Women in Pre-Revolutionary Cuba”;

*K. Lynn Stoner, “Ofelia Domínguez Navarro: The Making of a Cuban Socialist


Definition: socialism

Week 12: Argentina paper due

Women in the Cuban Revolutionary War

*Julie D. Shayne, “The Cuban Insurrection through a Feminist Lens, 1952-

1959”;*Ernesto Che Guevara, “Lydia and Clodomira”

Definition: femininity

Women in Revolutionary Cuba to 1988

*VilmaEspín and Women in Revolutionary Cuba; *Appendix B: The Family

Code, 1974; *Law No. 1263: The Revolution Protects Motherhood, 1976;

*Muriel Nazzari, “The ‘Woman Question’ in Cuba: An Analysis of Material

Constraints in its Resolution”

Week 13: Women in Revolutionary Cuba to 1992

*Margaret Randall, Gathering Rage, pp. 120-153

Women in Revolutionary Cuba to 1998

*María López Vigil, “Cuban Women”

Exam weekResearch paper on Cuba due

Writing Assignments

Papers 1 and 2 (25%) each. Write 6 pages of text answering a question raised by the readings, the professor, or class discussion (footnotes and bibliography are additional pages). Review the evidence and make an argument that answers the question you choose. The style should be standard expository writing, with a clearly stated thesis (please highlight it) and plenty of supporting evidence. The objective of the paper is depth and thoughtfulness that demonstrate historical thinking and understanding of Latin American points of view. This is not a summary of the reading, nor is it a research paper. It is a paper where you go deeper into analysis, interpretation, and change over time, demonstrating that you can articulate different points of view. Paper 1 will be on Mexico. Paper 2 will be on Argentina.

Paper 3. The third paper is a short research paper on Cuba. It is 9-10 pages of text (plus footnotes and bibliography). Develop a research question you want to investigate about women’s lives, experiences, and points of view in revolutionary Cuba from 1959 to the present. Consult with the professor to formulate your question. Your secondary sources must be scholarly (books, articles in academic journals) or (newspapers, news magazines). You may use credible internet sources as primary sources, but you must use them with extreme care. Consult with the professor about any internet source you wish to use. The library has excellent primary sources available. Check the subject line for History and go to the Latin American page to start. The librarians are professionals in the art of finding excellent source material, so make an appointment!

Citations. All papers will have footnotes at the end (“end notes” in computer parlance) on a separate page. The bibliography will also be on a separate page, after the footnotes (this is your last page). Follow the style in Mary Lynn Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, 6th Edition (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007). Points will be deducted for not using proper style. Use accents for words or names in Spanish that require them: if they are missing, the words are misspelled (and your grade will be affected accordingly). For the research paper, a good rule of thumb is to have at least as many sources as pages required (that is, a minimum of 9-10 sources in this case).

Honor Code. Not giving credit where credit is due is an academic offense tantamount to stealing and I take it seriously. A plagiarized paper will mean an “F” in the course (not just the paper) and a trip to the disciplinary committee, even if the plagiarism was unintentional. Make sure you are intimately familiar with the definition of plagiarism and College policies regarding academic honesty, as explained in the Student Handbook.

Grading standards

For written work, I look for the following:

1. Focus. What is your thesis? Did the topic sentence for each paragraph establish what the paragraph will argue?

2. Evidence. Did you provide sufficient and convincing evidence for your argument? Where did your evidence come from? Is it reliable? Did you take contrary evidence into account? Did you acknowledge the limitations of your sources?

3. Development. Did your essay develop the argument logically? Was it organized coherently from one paragraph to the next? Did the paragraph advance your thesis?

4. Diction and grammar. Was your choice of words as sophisticated as the subject matter? Were your sentences grammatically correct?