Effective: Early Spring 8-Week 2017/2018

LACS 102: Latin American Culture And Society II

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  Course Description

This course continues a survey of the culture of Latin America. It is designed to be taken in sequence with LACS 101 as an intensive study of the people of Latin America. Taking LACS 101 first will enhance your experience of this course. Meets multicultural graduation requirement.

Prerequisite: None

Proctored Exams: Final



  • De Jesus, Carolina Maria. Child of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus (trans. David St. Clair). Penguin Publishing, 2003.
    • ISBN-978-0-45-152910-7
  • Green, Duncan and Sue Branford. Faces of Latin America. 4th ed. Monthly Review Press, 2012.
    • ISBN-978-1-58-367324-9
  • Partnoy, Alicia. The Little School: Tales of Disappearance and Survival. 2nd ed. Cleis Press, 1998.
    • ISBN-978-1-573440-29-5

MBS Information

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

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.

  Course Overview

This course is phase two of a two- course sequence on Latin American culture and society. The course work includes discussion questions, short and long papers, a midterm exam, and a final exam. This course builds on the foundation gained in 101 and dives deeper into specific topics. While a broad look at Latin America is undertaken, many of the topics are examined within the framework of specific countries: Brazil-race, poverty, social structures, ethnicity, and gender; Argentina and Chile- authoritarianism, religion, military, democracy, the Left, and social justice; Mexico- visual culture, muralist movement, female artists and cultural identity. In addition to these topics the following introduce and close out the session:

a) Pre-Latin America, conquest and colonization

b) Popular culture and current events. Latin America is vast and diverse

Brazil alone is slightly smaller than the continental United States. Your knowledge of the culture and society of this region will be expanded through this intensive study.

  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 Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe social, political, and economic forces that have created a culture.
  2. Describe characteristics of a culture.
  3. Articulate a sense of cultural identity in relation to the particular culture studied.


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 Explorations 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 Discussion 10 Wednesday
Discussion 1 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 2 10
Discussion 3 10
Syllabus Quiz -- Sunday

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 4 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 5 10
Discussion 6 10
Proctor Information N/A Sunday

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 8 10
Discussion 9 10
Cultural Exploration 1 50 Sunday

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 10 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 11 10
Discussion 12 10
Research Paper Topic 25 Sunday
Midterm Exam 200

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 13 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 14 10
Discussion 15 10
Cultural Exploration 2 50 Sunday

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 16 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 17 10
Discussion 18 10

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 19 10 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 20 10
Discussion 21 10

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 22 10 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 23 10
Discussion 24 10
Research Paper 225 Wednesday
Final Exam 200 Saturday
Total Points: 1000

  Assignment Overview


Each week will have three discussion topics/questions to answer. All initial posts are due on Wednesday by 11:59 pm CT. All responses are due on Sunday by 11:59 PM, except in week 8, when they are due on Saturday by 11:59 pm CT. Initial responses should to be 100 words but you must emphasis on content and not length. Responses need to be more than, “I agree,” or “good point,” for credit. They should further the discussion and use examples from the text when appropriate. 

Cultural Explorations

Cultural Exploration 1:  You will choose from one of two topics and write a cultural exploration essay and place it in the Dropbox by Sunday 11:59 p.m. of Week 3. This is a writing assignment and must be written in essay format. It needs an introductory paragraph with a clear main idea or thesis statement, supportive paragraphs, a closing paragraph, and a works cited or bibliography at the end of the paper. All sources must be cited properly using one of the following citation methods: MLA, APA, or Chicago Style. The paper should be one page (350-500 words) in length using 12 pt. font and double spaced uniformly throughout. Any overage needs instructor approval. It is worth 50 points.

Cultural Exploration 2: You will have to watch the film Our Disappeared and complete a film review and Q&A document available in the content section. The document will contain short and long answer questions. The directions are available at the top of the document. You must save the work in a Word document and place in the Dropbox by Sunday 11:59 p.m. CT of Week 5. It is worth 50 points.

Research Paper

Topic, Thesis, and Bibliography (Due Week 4)

You will choose a topic related to the themes covered in the course. You must submit your chosen topic, an annotated bibliography containing at least four sources (one of which must be from course materials), and a tentative thesis statement in the Dropbox. You should submit it for final approval by 11:59 pm CT Sunday of Week 4. This part of your research paper is worth 25 points.

Final Paper (Due Week 8)

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate an understanding of a Latin American cultural concept, icon/figure, political, or socioeconomic issue.

 The completed Research paper must be 800-1,000 words in length, 12 point font, double-spaced throughout, with 1-inch margins and numbered pages. Papers must include a title page and a 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. You must not use research papers that are completed in previous courses. However, you are allowed to build on a previously researched topic.

The grading of the Research paper will be based on the above criteria; a full grading rubric will be provided to you in the Content area, along with full assignment expectations and guidelines. You must submit it to the Dropbox by 11:59 pm CT Wednesday of Week 8. The final research paper is worth 225 points.

Quizzes and Exams

Syllabus Quiz: The syllabus quiz will test your knowledge of assignment due dates and requirements found in syllabus. This quiz is ungraded; however, you will not be able to access Discussion 1 until you complete the quiz.

Midterm Exam: The midterm is an open book exam, worth 200 points; it will not be proctored. It will cover the readings and cultural exploration assignments covered in Weeks 1-4. It is composed of approximately 25 questions, including multiple choice, true/false, and  fill-in-the-blank items. It will open on Monday of Week 4 and will be due by 11:59 pm CT Sunday. You will have 2 hours (120 minutes) to complete it. It can be found in the Quizzes area of the course.

Final Exam: The final is proctored. It will cover all the readings and cultural exploration assignments completed during weeks 5-8. It is composed of approximately 25 questions, including multiple-choice, true/false, and fill-in-the-blank questions. It will open at 12:01 a.m. CT Tuesday of Week 8 and will be due by 11:59 p.m. CT Saturday of the same week. You will have 2 hours (120 minutes) to complete the final exam.

  Course Outline

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


Green and Branford: Introduction (pages 1-51; 109-125)

"The Columbian Exchange." Khan Academy. Web link in course Content.

Introduction Discussion
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.
Discussion 1
Examine the native civilizations of the Aztecs and the Incas. How did they differ culturally and politically. What characteristics made these cultures sophisticated?
Discussion 2
Describe how the land was used prior to the conquistadors’ arrival. How did land usage change after the conquest? Include various types of labor and types of farms. How does land usage compare to today?
Discussion 3
Investigate the Columbian Exchange in geographical, ecological and biological ways. How did this interchange shift cultural norms and cultural identity? Identify how certain old world items/food/crops used by the indigenous were adapted for other uses by the Europeans.
Syllabus Quiz
The syllabus quiz will test your knowledge of assignment due dates and requirements found in syllabus. This quiz is ungraded; however, you must complete it in order to gain access to Discussion 1.

Green and Branford: pages 51-60; 126-137

De Jesus: preface and first half of the book

Cockrum, Thayne. Overview of Brazilian Culture and Society. (article in course Content)

Discussion 4
Describe the origins of the favela (shantytown). Who lives there and how did favelas come to exist in Brazil and Latin America in general?
Discussion 5
What does the urban trash collector, such as Carolina, represent in Brazilian society and culture? How is she viewed by those outside of the favela?
Discussion 6
Looking at the role of women under these conditions, why are they often more affected by extreme poverty than men? Use examples from your readings to support your conclusions.
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.

Green and Branford: Pages 159-173;174-186

De Jesus: second half and epilogue

Discussion 7
Explain how race (include both African and indigenous) in Latin America is viewed as a social and cultural creation as well as the result of one’s genetics. This week’s video will especially help you with the social and cultural part of this question, but don’t overlook the value offered by this week’s readings on this topic.
Discussion 8
How does Carolina’s lifestyle and family structure relate to what you have read in your textbook Faces of Latin America? Draw comparisons between the two readings. Explain how her race, socioeconomic position, and gender are connected and/or influence her life.
Discussion 9
Explain how the two social constructions machismo and marianismo have historically hindered women in Latin American culture and society. Describe the religious and ethnic origins of the terms.  Use Carolina’s diary and/or the textbook to provide an example for each to support your answer.
Cultural Exploration 1

Choose one of the two topics below and write one page cultural exploration essay and place it in the Dropbox.

Topic A:

How has society and culture changed for women in Latin America over the last 40 years? 

Note: This topic is addressed in Faces of Latin America, but you are encouraged to research outside of course materials in addition to your textbook to complete this assignment.

Topic B:

Choose a Latin American country other than Brazil and examine the history, culture, and society of Africans in that particular country (e.g., Afro-Peruvians, Afro-Cubans, Afro-Hondurans etc…).

Note: The Black in Latin America series is available in full videos through the college’s Stafford Library. Countries in this series include Haiti/Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Cuba. You are not required to use the video series to address this topic.


Green and Branford: Pages 67-87

Partnoy: First half

Osiel, Mark. "Constructing Subversion in Argentina's Dirty War." Representations. No. 75, Summer 2001, pp. 119-158. Web link in course Content.

Discussion 10
Explain how the military came to be professionalizedin Latin America. What were some of the reasons two-thirds of Latin Americans lived under military dictatorships by 1976?
Discussion 11
Discuss the “intellectual justification” for the military to defeat subversive activity by any means necessary. How did national security doctrine define subversion? Examine and explain how the doctrine was applied to Alicia Partnoy and her friends at the Little School.
Discussion 12
In countries such as Argentina and Chile, the military dictatorships’ (juntas’) attempts to eliminate politics and revitalize the economy backfired. Explain how their failures at these two things helped create a pathway for the emergence of social organizations and a transition to democracy.
Research Paper Topic
Choose a paper topic related to the themes of the course. Submit your topic, a tentative thesis statement and an annotated bibliography of four relevant sources (one of which must come from course materials) to the Dropbox titled “Paper Topic.” Please use an approved citation method (MLA, APA, or Chicago Style) when listing your sources.
Midterm Exam

It is an open book exam, worth 200 points, and will not be proctored. It will cover the readings and cultural exploration assignments covered in Weeks 1-4. It is composed of approximately 25 multiple choice, true/false, and fill-in-the-blank questions.

It will open on Monday of Week 4 and will be due by 11:59 pm CT Sunday. You will have 35 minutes to complete the exam, so it important to know and understand the material. It can be found in the Quizzes area of the course.


Green and Branford: Pages 88-106; 195-206

Partnoy: second half pp. 68-136

Agosin, Margaret. "Threads of Hope: The Chilean Arpillera." International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life. Brandeis University.  (You will find a link in the course Content.)

Arditti, Rita. "'Do you know who you are?' The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo." Women's Review of Books. Vol. 24. No. 5., September/October 2007. pp. 1-5. (You will find a link in the course Content.)

Osiel, Mark. "The Making of Human Rights Policy in Argentina: The Impact of Ideas and Interests on a Legal Conflict." Journal of Latin American Studies. Vol. 18, No. 1, May 1986, pp. 135-180. (You will find a link in the course Content.)

Discussion 13
Describe the conditions from which the left, guerrilla movements, emerged. Why were they mostly unsuccessful and what accounts for their acceptance of the democratic process?
Discussion 14

Many countries including Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and El Salvador, to name a few, experienced similar clashes between peasant groups, leftist movements and military regimes.  During this time period, many movements and groups of women emerged for the first time to protest against the regime’s state terrorism. Describe the following two movements:

  1. Arpilleras Movement of Chile and
  2. The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo of Argentina
Explain their methods of social protest, their direct actions, their goals and accomplishments. What do these movements tell us about the civil society under military dictatorships?
Discussion 15

In an effort to heal the collective trauma of the nations that lived under the culture of military oppression and to help regain a sense of identity as individuals and as nations, civilian governments implemented two phases of legal action: 1) Truth commissions, followed years later by, 2) Justice via prosecutions ending the culture of impunity that had protected military leaders.

Explain the two phases as they relate to Argentina and what each phase accomplished. Why and how did the demand for Justice take priority over truth and reconciliation? How did this process help to restore and heal the society and culture?

Cultural Exploration 2
Watch the film Our Disappeared in the course and complete the film review and Q&A document available in the Content section. The document contains short and long answer questions. Directions are available at the top of the document. Once complete, please save as a Word document and place in the Dropbox.

Green and Branford: Pages 209-219

Pomade, Rita. "Mexican muralists: The Big Three -- Orozco, Rivera, Siqueiros." Mexconnect. May 5, 2007.  (You will find a link in the course Content.)

Discussion 16
How did the Mexican Muralists express society’s values (or what it should value) in the post-revolutionary period? How did they reflect Mexico’s history along with these values?
Discussion 17
What role did Jose Vasconcelos play in the post-revolutionary government? What were his goals for rural schools and Mexico’s poor? Include his ideas on “aesthetic culture” in your discussion.
Discussion 18
Summarize what you believe muralism contributed to 20th century art, culture, and Latin American identity.
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.

Deffenbach, Nancy. “Frida Kahlo, Heroism of a Private Life” inHeroes and Hero Cults, pages 171-197  (Weblink in the course Content).

Cummings, Joe. “Diego, Frida and the Mexican School” by Joe Cummings. MexConnect (Weblink in the course Content)

Discussion 19
Describe Frida Kahlo’s dual heritage. How did Frida Kahlo synthesize or bring together her two cultures in her everyday life and in her art? (Include examples of her artwork when appropriate.)
Discussion 20
Explain Frida Kahlo’s artistic relationship to Mexican Muralism. How do art critics describe her work in contrast to muralism? In what ways did Kahlo’s artwork deviate from this masculine avant-garde esthetic? (Include examples of artwork when appropriate.)
Discussion 21
Analyze and explain why Frida Kahlo and other Latin American female artists of the early twentieth century are considered pioneers and/or heroines of Latin American society and culture.
Green and Branford: Pages 219-248
Discussion 22
How do many artists and writers view North American influence in media, cinema, and everyday lives of the society?
Discussion 23
Explain the role of television (telenovelas), sports, and religion in Latin American popular culture. Describe some of the social and political issues that unfold or play out through them.
Discussion 24
Do an online search of a reputable news website on a current issue in Latin America. Summarize the article, pointing out cultural, historical, political, and social issues it addresses. Point out any connections the article makes to other cultures, countries, current events etc., or any relevance to what you’ve learned in the course. Be sure to identify the website and paste the link into your post.
Research Paper
Your final research paper is due by Wednesday of Week 8.  See the Assignment Overview above and detailed information about the assignment in the Content area of the course.
Final Exam

The final exam is proctored and worth 200 points. It will cover all the readings and cultural exploration assignments completed during weeks 5-8. It is composed of approximately 25 multiple-choice, true/false, and fill-in-the-blank questions. It will open at 12:01 a.m. CT Tuesday of Week 8 and will be due by 11:59 p.m. CT Saturday of the same week. You will have 120 minutes 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 Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com 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 sar@ccis.edu.

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 or quizzes will be accepted.

Late work will be accepted for papers (cultural explorations and research paper). You will be automatically penalized 20% of the possible points for the assignment for each day late. This penalty may be waived in extenuating circumstances (e.g. military deployment, hospitalization, death in the family).  Please contact your instructor in advance. Additional documentation may be required to waive the late penalty.

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.