This curious anthology assembles unaltered course syllabi and reading lists (complete with typographical errors) from 62 U.S. college and university courses offered by 25 professors during the early 1980s, without commentary of any kind. There is no indication of how the offerings were solicited or selected; there is no suggestion that they are either remarkably innovative or representative. Some indeed suggest brilliant pedagogy in Latin American history; but others are merely pedestrian. A less promising evening’s reading would be hard to imagine at first glance. I cannot help wondering how such a collection ever came to be published, remembering with chagrin how reluctant, and even hostile, the profession was a little more than a decade ago, when E. Bradford Burns (a fine teacher, here represented) and others sought to encourage their colleagues to write serious essays for publication about the theory and practice of the teaching of Latin American history—so that the best ideas available about that part of our craft could get wider circulation and be put to work with more students for the benefit of society at large. Nevertheless, surprisingly, this nonbook turns out to be quite interesting on close examination. It should probably be perused by anyone who teaches Latin American history for a living and who is ever at all weary of the enterprise, or who is not so arrogant about his or her own established procedures as not to be on the lookout for new ones. There are some excellent ideas here for survey and “country,” as well as topical courses, and a few promising gimmicks for seducing students into learning. Even the reading lists contain some surprises and suggestions for redirection. For me, the high points were Hugh Hamill’s note on how to run a lively discussion group, Michael Conniff’s annotated bibliography of Latin American historical fiction, the women’s history syllabi of Georgette Dorn and Donna Guy (read as a challenge to include more material on women in the teaching of general courses), Judith Elkins on the history of Latin America’s Jews, Anani Dzidzienyo and Leslie Bout on teaching Afro-Latin American history, and the several syllabi for the history of Brazil. The publication, then, is a useful one in its way. Perhaps the most that could be asked of it is that it contribute to encouraging the rest of us to take teaching seriously enough to be willing to talk about it with one another, to exchange ideas about how to do it better, and even to take some measure of responsibility for helping our graduate students prepare for taking up their own work as teachers when the time comes.
Book Review| February 01 1987
Latin American History
Latin American History. Edited by Bratzel, John F. and Bout, Leslie B.Jr.
Markus Wiener Publishing, Inc.,
250. Paper. $14.50.
Hispanic American Historical Review (1987) 67 (1): 145–146.
David G. Sweet; Latin American History. Hispanic American Historical Review 1 February 1987; 67 (1): 145–146. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182168-67.1.145
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