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

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Jens R Hentschke
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


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 3.
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:
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
6. THE REVIVAL OF ABOLITIONISM AND REPUBLICANISM IN THE LAST THIRD OF THE 19th C. 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.
7. CHALLENGES TO THE OLIGARCHIC SYSTEMS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: The reformist challenge (Uruguayan Batllismo) vs the revolutionary challenge (Mexican Revolution)

The course will be taught and assessed in English.

Students have the option of completing a practice essay, which will be marked and returned, or writing an essay plan of no more than 500 words which should include a central argument, an outline, and a conclusion. This is to be submitted one week before the Easter break.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture141:0014:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture12:002:00Introduction
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture11:001:00In-class test
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching71:007:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops11:001:00Planning session.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops71:007:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Tutorials
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1163:00163:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The planning session will be followed by an interactive opening lecture and film class. Students will watch a documentary on the overseas expansion and colonisation of the New World that gives them the necessary background to understand the socio-economic and political-ideological setting that bore the first anti-colonial movements in the eighteenth century. The second half of this class will place this course into a broader perspective. On the one hand, students will be able to establish links between the different Area Studies, Area Studies and systematic disciplines, and literary and other texts. On the other, they will be pointed to the significance of the ‘long nineteenth century’ 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. Lectures will allow definition of the scope of the syllabus, an introduction to a body of knowledge, and modeling of the analysis required (note-taking). Workshops, which are linked to the lecture blocks, will consolidate students’ knowledge and train their skills in analysing documentaries and a variety of printed primary sources. Seminars will give them the opportunity of researching a topic individually and in small groups, trying out their knowledge, presenting a concise theses paper, and asking questions (interpersonal communication and presentations). 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. There will also be time for questions.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1201A70Students have to answer 1 of 7 questions.There will be one question on each of the seven comparative blocks (see syllabus outline)
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M30class test. see below for details.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation1Msee below for details.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Class test details;- The class test consists of a limited number of factual questions on the entire course to that point (but limited to terms, names, and dates that are listed on the last slide of each Power-Point presentation) and a quotation from a historical document. Students have to answer all factual questions and comment on the citation, placing the source in context.

Formative assessment deails:- In seminars, students will give individual or group presentations (in form of short theses papers) on real exam questions of previous years. They will also introduce documents in workshops.

The in-class test wants students to demonstrate both core knowledge of Latin American history and the ability to historically place and criticise a textual extract in a limited space.
The formal written exam will allow students to demonstrate their understanding of at least one broader period of Latin American history previously studied in two lectures, one workshops, and one seminar. 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.

Reading Lists