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Effective: Late Spring 8-Week, 2017/2018

LACS 101: Latin American Culture And Society I

Course Description

This course begins a survey of the social, cultural, literary, and political history of Latin America. The course is designed to be taken in sequence with Latin American Culture and Society II as an intensive study of the Latin American culture and its people. Course meets multicultural graduation requirement.

Prerequisite: None

Proctored Exams: Final

Syllabus Contents



  • Skidmore, Thomas, and Smith, Peter. Modern Latin America. 8th Ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
    • ISBN-978-0-19-992923-8

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit

Course Overview

This course is a comprehensive overview on the culture, people, politics, economy and geography of our neighbors to the South. We will examine the past, present, and future of Latin America as a region weaving our way through topics such as independence movements of criollos and indigenistas, women’s roles in society and politics, drug trafficking, Latin American music, military uprisings, literary movements, and U.S.-Latin American relations. If you are curious about the heritage of our nation’s largest ethnic or race minority, this is the course for you.

Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

Course Objectives

  • To develop an understanding of, and appreciation for, the daily life of the culture
  • To explore the development of cultural identity for the people

Measurable Learning Outcomes

  • Describe the social, literary, political, and economic forces that create a culture.
  • Examine the birth, growth, and changes of a culture.
  • Participate in an intense study of daily life, politics, science, philosophy, religion, architecture, art, music, dance, etc.
  • Develop a critical understanding for what it means to have this cultural identity in relationship to other cultures.


Grading Scale
Grade Points Percent
A 900-1000 90-100%
B 800-899 80-89%
C 700-799 70-79%
D 600-699 60-69%
F 0-599 0-59%
Grade Weights
Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions 250 25%
Cultural Exploration Assignments (2) 100 10%
Research Paper 250 25%
Midterm Exam 200 20%
Final Exam 200 20%
Total 1000 100%

Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1
Assignment Points Due
Introduction 10 Sunday
Syllabus Quiz --
Discussion 1 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 2 10 Sunday
Discussion 3 10
Week 2
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 4 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 5 10 Sunday
Discussion 6 10
Cultural Exploration Assignment 1 50
Proctor Information N/A
Week 3
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 8 10 Sunday
Discussion 9 10
Research Paper Topic Submission --
Week 4
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 10 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 11 10 Sunday
Discussion 12 10
Midterm Exam 200
Week 5
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 13 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 14 10 Sunday
Discussion 15 10
Cultural Exploration Assignment 2 50
Week 6
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 16 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 17 10 Sunday
Discussion 18 10
Week 7
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 19 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 20 10 Sunday
Discussion 21 10
Research Paper 250
Week 8
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 22 10 Wednesday
Discussion 23 10
Discussion 24 10
Final Exam 200 Saturday
Total Points 1000

Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

Week 1: Why Latin America?
  • Chapters 1-2 (pages 3-44) of assigned text, Modern Latin America
  • Review all Instructional Materials

Introduce yourself to your fellow students. Tell us a little about yourself such as what you do for a living, what your goals for the course are, or what you like to do in your spare time. Only share what you are comfortable doing.

Then, read the definition of culture in the Content Section/Week One online. Based on this definition, tell us something you find interesting or unique about your own culture. Original post and at least one peer response required.

Syllabus Quiz
This assessment will test student knowledge and understanding of assignment requirements and dates throughout the course. The Syllabus Quiz will be ungraded; however you will not be able to open Discussion 1 until you complete the quiz.
Discussion 1
Based on your reading, why does Latin America matter to the United States? Why and in what ways? Original post and at least one peer response required. You will not be able to open this discussion until you complete the syllabus quiz.
Discussion 2
What factors and motivations led to Spanish and Portuguese expansion across the Atlantic Ocean? What most “offended” the Spanish and their sensibilities when they encountered the Aztec culture? In what ways did the indigenous peoples both resist and adapt to the European conquest of their territories? Original post and at least one peer response required.
Discussion 3
Your textbook makes reference to several obsolete notions about the people of Latin America: the devious Mexican "greaser," the "Latin lover," the "Frito Bandito" among others. Explain what the authors mean when they state that these notions are "pervasive but misleading" (page 5). How can we correct these obsolete notions?
Week 2: Machismo, Marianismo and Understanding Stereotypes in Latin American Culture
  • Pages 23-24 of assigned text, Modern Latin America
  • Review all Instructional Materials
Discussion 4
The cult of Machismo (masculine superiority) appeared early in Latin America (page 23 in this week’s assigned reading), yet many colonial Latin American families contradicted this stereotype. Explain the evidence the authors present that contradicts this prevailing gender image. Be sure to review the culture box “Elite Women and Economic Power” on page 24. Original post and at least one peer response required.
Discussion 5
Based on the Roberto Duran article, describe the positive and negative characteristics of machismo in Panamanian culture and the societal ideals of manhood. What accounts for Duran downplaying his feminine or anti-machista characteristics? Explain the aftermath and consequences of Duran stopping the fight against Leonard. Describe what this tells us about cultural expectations with regard to behavior. Original post and at least one peer response required.
Discussion 6
After reading the article on Ecuadorian women, explain the concept/ideal of marianismo and the consequences of the “triple burden” on indigenous women. Original post and at least one peer response required.
Cultural Exploration Assignment 1

Cultural Exploration Assignment 1 will look at the common image of the Sleeping Mexican in Mexican Folk art. Research the origins of the Sleeping Mexican and its place in Mexican folk art. Conduct an online search for the "Sleeping Mexican" image and explore the results. Additionally, listen to the audio cast provided in the Content area.

Cultural Exploration 1 should be a short essay response of 300-500 words that utilizes 2-3 sources. Your answers should be supported with original analysis suing cited evidence from your research. Your Cultural Exploration should answer/provide the following information:

  • Explain the role of the Sleeping Mexican in Mexican Folk art. Is the Sleeping Mexican a cultural icon of Mexican folk history or is it disparaging cliché?
  • What in the imagery or its meaning (perceived or actual) makes its use so divisive?
  • Choose an image of The Sleeping Mexican that best fits your perspectives/answers to the prompt. Post the image with your short essay (try to find one different than your other classmates if possible).

Additional assignment expectations and requirements can be found in the Content area. Once you complete your short essay, submit it to the appropriate Dropbox by 11:59 pm CT Sunday.

Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.
Week 3: Case Studies in the Revolutions of Mexico and Cuba: Cause and Consequences
  • Pages 47-62 (Mexico) and pages 112-137 (Cuba) of assigned text, Modern Latin America
  • Review all Instructional Materials
Discussion 7
Identify the central causes and consequences of the Mexican Revolution. How did it change society and the political climate? Be sure to examine the reforms implemented by each president following the revolution. Original post and at least one peer response required.
Discussion 8
What were the political and social conditions on the island of Cuba prior to the revolution? Explain to what extent the Cuban Revolution emerged from these conditions and those created by Fidel Castro. Original post and at least one peer response required.
Discussion 9
Describe the U.S. policies and actions toward Cuba after the revolution. How did U.S. policy become a useful scapegoat for the Cuban leadership? Original post and at least one peer response required.
Research Paper Topic Submission

This week, you will choose a research paper topic from the list provided in this week’s (Week 3) Content area. You can also create your own topic, but it must be submitted for approval.

Your thesis statement, outline and sources may change as you dive deeper into your research. This is expected and allowed.

In addition to choosing/creating your topic, you should plan the use and citation of at least four sources in your papers. Your Skidmore and Smith textbook should be utilized as one of your sources.

Your chosen topic, outline, at least four sources (one of which must be from course materials), and thesis statement be posted in the Research Paper Topic Discussion post by 11:59 pm CT Sunday. The final Research paper will be due at 11:59 pm CT Sunday of Week 7.

Week 4: Revolutions, Guerilla Movements in Cuba and Central America, Daily Lives of Women, Nationalism and Populism
  • “Cuba: The Contemporary Theme (1990-Present)” - pages 137-141
  • “Central America: Politics and Policy: Guatemala”- pages 102-106
  • “Strategies for Economic Development: The Socialist Alternative, Revolutionary Movements” - pages 354-358
  • “Latin American in the World Arena, 1800s-1880s: The Nationalist Impulse, The Revolutionary Challenge” - pages 450-455
  • Review all Instructional Materials
Discussion 10
Briefly summarize Fidel Castro’s speech, “What is Cuba’s Sin?” Does it change, clarify, or expand any previous impressions you had about Cuba? How does it compare to what you’ve read in your textbook? Where have you obtained your previous knowledge of Cuba and does it change when you examine primary documents like Fidel Castro’s speech? Original post and at least one peer response required.
Discussion 11
Compare and contrast the daily lives and culture of the two Guatemalan women you learned about in the online interviews from this week as children, then as young adults. Include issues of race, socio-economic conditions, social injustice, class privilege, and other areas relevant to analyze. Original post and at least one peer response required.
Discussion 12
Based on the interviews and your textbook readings this week, draw on your knowledge of what was happening in Guatemala in the 1960s-1980s, and answer the following question: What was the impetus for these young women to join the guerrilla movement? Identify and describe any common threads between their stories. Original post and at least one peer response required.
Midterm Exam
This week you will complete the Midterm Exam. The Midterm Exam will be worth 100 points, and will not be proctored. It will cover the readings and Cultural Exploration Assignments we've completed thus far. The Exam may be composed of 25 multiple-choice, true/false, and short essay questions. It will open at 12:00 am CT Monday of Week 4 and will be due by 11:59 pm CT Sunday of the same week. You will have 2 hours to complete the Midterm Exam.
Week 5: The Andes: How export-led growth changes society and culture
  • “The Andes: Soldiers, Oligarchs, and Indians”) -Pages 142-155
  • “The Curse of Oil” - page 181
  • “Colombia. Politics and Policy: Patterns of Change” - pages 191-195, 196-197
  • Review all Instructional Materials
Discussion 13
It is only logical that the Andean countries took advantage of their natural resources to develop their countries. What have been the benefits and problems to the economy as a result of being reliant on export? Original post and at least one peer response required.
Discussion 14
What cultural shifts have occurred in the social structure of the Andean countries due to economic changes created by the export-led growth? Include social issues, socio-economic hierarchies, and geodemographic shifts in your discussion. Note how the indigenous populations have fared in this transition to a modern Latin American culture and society. If they have fared better in some regions as compared to others, what might the reason be? Original post and at least one peer response required.
Discussion 15
Coca culture: From the online article and the film available in the Content area, describe the origins of the Coca culture in Peru. How is it tied to Peruvian national identity? How has the evolution of the Coca culture affected the tightly knit traditional native communities? Explain the views of the Andean Council on the coca plant. Original post and at least one peer response required.
Cultural Exploration Assignment 2

Cultural Exploration Assignment 2 will explore economic development and export topics. Students will be required to choose one of two prompts and complete a short essay response of 300-500 words that utilizes 2-3 sources. Your Cultural Exploration should address one of the following prompts (full prompts and additional resources can be found in the Content area):

  • Topic 1: The Yasuni Initiative of Ecuador and the Curse of Oil: balancing the protection of the environment with economic development. Explore the culture of the Kichwa Villages and their fight to protect Yasuni rainforest from government led oil exploration. Examine the arguments for and against development of this reserves and where things currently stand.
  • Topic 2: Coffee: The Legal King of Colombian Exports. Use your textbook to examine the “other” export Colombia is known for: coffee. Colombia is often associated with drug trafficking and king pins. However, coffee was the first export to propel Colombia to the world stage. Discuss how the cultivation and exportation of coffee transformed Colombia. Identify and discuss social, cultural, and political implications of the development of the coffee export economy. Be specific, cite sources, support your points with external facts and research, and develop a thesis statement that directly addresses this topic.

Additional assignment expectations and guidelines can be found in the Content area. Once you complete your short essay, submit it to the appropriate Dropbox by 11:59 pm CT Sunday.

Week 6: How Music and Dance are tied to National Identity (Argentina and Brazil)
  • “Brazil” - pages 296-340
  • “Argentina” - pages 236-267

Also be sure to review “Samba & Carnival” on page 320, “Rhythms of Popular Culture” on page 245, and “Popular Culture, Theater, and Sports” on page 415. In addition, review all Instructional Materials.

Discussion 16
Describe the origins of the Argentinean Tango and the Brazilian Samba. Explain the similarities and differences in how the Tango and Samba crossed international and class boundaries, eventually becoming accepted by the elite classes of Argentina and Brazil. Original post and at least one peer response required.
Discussion 17
What impact did these dances (Argentinean Tango and Brazilian Samba) and music have on their country’s national identity? How did it unite social classes, races, and ethnic groups? Original post and at least one peer response required.
Discussion 18
Describe the political and socio-economic conditions during the time these dances and music emerged to their prominent places as national assets. To what extent did politics influence their rise in popularity? Original post and at least one peer response required.
Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.
Week 7: Writers, Artists, Race, and Identity
  • Pages 396-414 (“Culture and Society”) of assigned text, Modern Latin America
  • Review all Instructional Materials
Discussion 19

Racial hierarchies remained strong in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. How did intellectuals, writers, and artists reshape national identities using symbols of the indigenous, Africans, and people of mixed racial background? Original post and at least one peer response required.

Discussion 20

Brazilian modernism looked to Europe for inspiration but then argued that artists should create their own unique Brazilian works. Explain this apparent paradox. Original post and at least one peer response required.

Discussion 21

Examine the painting titled “Five Girls of Guarantingueta” (1930) by Brazilian modernist Emiliano de Cavalcanti. Explain many of the modernist elements in this painting. (See a black and white image in your textbook page 410, or a color image in the content area). Original post and at least one peer response required.

Research Paper

The completed Research paper must be 900-1,000 words in length, 12 point font, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins and numbered pages. They must include a title page and separate works cited page (not included in word count). A thesis statement must be present within the first two paragraphs of the completed paper. Citations and reference pages must be formatted according to MLA, APA, or Chicago formatting. Papers going significantly beyond the required word length must receive permission from the instructor.

The grading of the Research paper will be based on the above criteria and a full grading rubric will be provided to students in the Content area along with full assignment expectations and guidelines.

Week 8: The Globalization of Latin American Culture
  • “The Making of Mass Media; Popular Culture, Theater and Sports” - pages 414-416
  • “Latin American Culture Enters a World Market” - pages 416-430
  • Review all Instructional Materials
Discussion 22
How did the United States as the “Colossus of the North” affect cultural production in Latin America throughout the twentieth century? Cultural production could include anything from arts and literature to popular culture, mass media, film and sports. Original post and at least one peer response required.
Discussion 23
How has globalization transformed Latin American culture? Original post and at least one peer response required.
Discussion 24
How have other cultures been transformed by Latin America? Original post and at least one peer response required.
Final Exam

This week you will complete the Final Exam. The Final Exam will be worth 200 points, and must be proctored. It will cover all the readings and Cultural Exploration Assignments we've completed thus far. The Exam may be composed of multiple-choice, true/false, and short essay questions. It will open at 12:00 am CT Tuesday of Week 8 and will be due by 11:59 pm CT Saturday of the same week. You will have 2 hours to complete the Final Exam.

Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.


Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted.

Students submitting late Cultural Exploration Assignments or Research Papers will automatically be penalized 20% for each day it is late. Late penalties can only be waived and an Exam can only be reopened if the student contacts instructor before the due date of the assignment and has extenuating circumstances for turning it in past the deadline. The Instructor reserves the right to ask for additional documentation to confirm the extenuating circumstances. No extra credit work is available. Being sick (unless hospitalized or otherwise incapacitated) does not excuse you from contacting me before assignment due dates. The nature of the online environment allows convenient contact via email or by using the pager tool to notify instructor of extenuating circumstances where being sick or unable to work will result in late assignment submission.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.

Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.


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