Module Catalogue 2023/24

LAS2030 : Comparative History of Hispano-America and Brazil: from Independence to the Mexican Revolution (1789/1810-1917)

LAS2030 : Comparative History of Hispano-America and Brazil: from Independence to the Mexican Revolution (1789/1810-1917)

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Jens R Hentschke
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



In consonance with the degrees offered in the SML, this module aims:
•       to build on skills and knowledge gained at Stage 1.
•       to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of Latin American history in the ‘long 19th century’ with its lasting legacies.
•       to prepare students for more specialist study at Stage 4.
•       to make aspects of the above available to students from outside the degree.

The main purpose of this course is to give students an idea of the similarities and divergences in the historical development of Latin American countries during the key period from Independence to the Mexican Revolution. In contrast to Western Europe and North America, in Latin America ‘Independencia’ state-building preceded nation-building. Iberian mercantilism gave way to an economic re-colonisation by Great Britain, while France remained the major cultural reference point during the ‘long 19th century’. Yet, 'Amérique Latine' was an artificial construct, suggesting that the more than two dozen Latin American countries formed a kind of homogenous bloc.

The course will make you aware that, from their Conquest, Spanish and Portuguese America, let alone French Saint-Domingue (an important excursus), had been separated by more than language and natural barriers, and you will understand why Liberator Simón Bolivar failed in maintaining at least the territorial integrity of the four Spanish viceroyalties. We will look at the 'caudillo' dictatorships which followed political emancipation and contrast them to Brazil's ambivalent attempts to forge a nation post facto; analyse the liberal reforms of the mid-19th century in Colombia, Mexico and Argentina; compare Cuba's anti-slavery and belated pro-Independence movements with Brazil's abolitionists and republicans; and learn about Uruguay’s transformation into Latin America’s first welfare state democracy and Mexico’s paradigmatic 1910-17 revolution.

Outline Of Syllabus

The course will cover the following topics and case studies:

Week 1:
Intro to course and intro to Latin America
Weeks 2-8 (core):
State, society and economy at the end of the colonial period and the anti-colonial movements in Spanish America and Brazil (Tupac Amaru Revolt in Peru and Brazilian Inconfidências);
The first (1810-16) and second phase (1816-26)
Haiti's slave revolution and Brazil's independence as a monarchy
The 'oligarquización de la política' in Spanish-America vs. Brazil between pro-Portuguese absolutism, nativist constitutional monarchy and democratic republic
Colombia's 1849-54 liberal revolution and Argentinas 'national reconstruction' under Mitre and Sarmiento
Benito Juárez's ‘Reforma’ and the overthrow of Maximilian in Mexico and the Cuban Ten-Year-War in Spanish America vs. Paraguayan War, gradual abolition of slavery, and overthrow of the monarchy in Brazil.
The reformist challenge (Uruguayan Batllismo) vs the revolutionary challenge (Mexican Revolution)
Weeks 9:
Round-up and materials on Essay Writing

The course will be taught and assessed in English.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

At the end of this module you will have gained a knowledge of:

1. Latin American history from the late 18th and to the early 20th centuries
2. the striking similarities and, at the same time, fundamental divergences in the historical development of Latin American nations from the late colonial period to the challenge of oligarchic systems
3. the links between economic, social, and political changes
4. the interaction between European/US and Latin American history
5. different interpretations of Latin American history
6. key terms and debates like Enlightenment and enlightened absolutism; Independence: autonomismo, independentismo and anexionismo; centralism vs. federalism and regionalism; oligarquización, caudillismo and pronunciamientos in the so called 'Post Emancipation'; liberalism vs conservatism; radicalism and positivism; hacienda and estancia economy, 'archaic' and plantation slavery; abolitionism and republicanism; democratisation and social revolution.

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of this module, you will have strengthened the following cognitive and intellectual skills
1. applying their digital skills
2. taking notes efficiently
3. the close reading of texts
4. the analysis of (printed) historical sources
5. applying an analytical and comparative approach to historical subjects
6. appropriate case study selection
7. elaborating answers to pre-set questions and defend their own arguments
8. commenting on other students' arguments
9. presenting a concise essay plan

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials161:0016:00Asynchronous: lecture material: Introduction to subject in broader context: 2h Core Lectures: 14h
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion301:0030:00Preparations for the class test and final assessment
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading73:0021:00Reading of primary sources and watching of online film material; guided by Historical Method
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching71:007:00PiP - 7 seminars on core teaching blocks
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops101:0010:00PiP: 1 on planning; 2 on assessment feedback and prep; 7 on primary source analysis.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1116:00116:00Writing up of lecture notes/using lecture materials; prep of individual/group presentation; revision
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

In the planning session, students will be introduced to the intellectual and organisational design of the course, learn about the applied teaching methods and how to analyse primary sources, and hear about the formative and summative assessments. This will be followed by material that embeds this course on the ‘long nineteenth century’ into a broader disciplinary, temporal, and global context. Students will be able to establish links between the different Area Studies, Area Studies and systematic disciplines, and literary and other texts, and they will be pointed to the significance of the studied period for explaining Latin America’s current travails. The core of the module follows a strictly comparative design: it focuses on major periods of transformation in Latin America and uses exemplary and deviant cases. Online lecture materials will allow for definition of the scope of the syllabus, an introduction to a body of knowledge, and modelling of the analysis required (note-taking). These materials, which deal with a complex matter, will remain part of the 33 contact hours. Students have expressed very high regard for these high-quality recordings because they can work through them in their own time and well in advance of the workshops and seminars, and this has also proven to be very beneficial for those with SSPs. Workshops, which are linked to the lecture blocks, will consolidate students’ knowledge and train their hermeneutic skills in analysing documentaries and key primary sources. Seminars will give them the possibility to consolidate their knowledge in individual and group presentations and apply a comparative analysis. The workshop on exam preparation is to provide students with advice about how to read exam questions and give a concise and well-argued answer.

In case PIP teaching were not possible in general or for this module leader, workshops and seminars could take place in synchronous remote form.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination601M30Consists of a limited number of factual questions on entire course and an extract from a primary source.
Written Examination1201A70Students have to answer one of seven questions. There will be one on each of the comparative blocks (see syllabus outline)
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation1MIn seminars, students will give individual or group presentations on real exam/essay questions of previous years.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Summative assessments: In the in-class test, students should demonstrate both core knowledge of Latin American History, acquired in lectures, and the ability to historically place and briefly criticise a textual extract, trained in the workshops. The formal written exam will allow them to convey good understanding of at least one broader period of Latin American history previously studied in a whole teaching block. They will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge to specific cases and to highlight their similarities and divergences. This form of assessment provides an occasion to practice written communication as well as analytical and problem-solving skills.

Formative assessment: Presentations on the ‘real’ exam/essay questions of the previous year have become a longstanding and well-received practice. They act as a mock, and students then know exactly what type of questions they can expect in the summative assessment and that they should focus on an overarching thesis and operationalise it.

Alternative assessments: The class-test could become a 24 taking-home exam but would then have to exclude the factual questions; students would just analyse the extract from the primary source in 500 words. The written examination would become an essay of 2,500 words.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes

This course introduces students to the ‘long nineteenth century’ in Hispano-America and Brazil, a key period in the region’s history which saw all countries gaining political independence from the Iberian colonial powers; being asymmetrically integrated into the world market and exposed to what many call an economic re-colonisation by Britain; and forming oligarchic states, while nation-building lagged behind. Students will look at periods of major revolutionary and reformist transformation on a continent where the past is still very much part of the present.

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