Modern Latin America

Instructor: Robert Schwaller

Day & Time:

Category Fulfillment: II
Black and white images depicting Che Guevara riding a motorcycle and another with Fidel Castro as they walk towards the camera.

HIST 121 Modern Latin America 

This class examines the history of Latin America from 1800 to the present to understand how this region forged its path since Independence from Spain, Portugal, and France. The course explores three related questions: What does it mean to be “Latin American”?  What does it mean to be “modern”?  How have Latin Americans followed their own unique paths to modernity when compared to the rest of the world?

This course assumes no prior knowledge of Latin America, its peoples, or history. Students are welcome to enroll in the course at either the 100 level or the 300 level. The course readings and assignments differ according to course level. At the 100 level readings emphasize primary sources and assignments work to develop student’s ability to read and analyze historical accounts. At the 300 level, readings focus on secondary sources, what historians have argued about the past, and assignments ask students to analyze how historians construct arguments. All lectures and discussions draw together the assigned readings from both levels.

Long before Che Guevara helped Fidel Castro in the Cuban Revolution, he undertook a road trip across South America. We will read his Motorcycle Diaries to understand how visiting neighboring countries shaped his understanding of Latin America, its peoples and its future.