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COURSE NAME: "Doing History: The Conquest of the Americas"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2019

EMAIL: gogle@johncabot.edu
HOURS: TTH 10:00-11:15 AM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN 103 or EN 105 with a grade of C or above

This course introduces students to the practice of history, that is, how professional historians investigate, reconstruct, and interpret the past. Students will examine a variety of methodological approaches and theoretical perspectives that historians have employed in studying a particular historical problem (the topic varies from semester to semester). Students will also engage directly in practicing history by analyzing a variety of primary and secondary sources and carrying out a significant research project related to the topic of the semester.
During this semester, this course will explore the early encounters between Native Americans, Europeans and Africans in the Americas, focusing on the 'Spanish' conquest/invasion of the Aztec and Incan Empires.  We will examine a variety of approaches and tools that historians have used to investigate these events, which were fundamental in the development of both modern global history and the ways in which Western scholarship has conceptualized that history.
In successfully completing this course, students will further develop their abilities to:

  • Evaluate/analyze differing scholarly arguments/ interpretations of historical problems
  • Understand how context and audience contribute to shape historical interpretation/perspective
  • Formulate a research question about a historical topic
  • Assemble and critically evaluate primary and secondary sources
  • Be aware of the importance of finding, using and producing reliable information
  • Respect academic integrity and ethical standards
  • Effectively communicate information and ideas orally and in writing in accurate, polished, and persuasive English
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Seven Myths of the Spanish ConquestMatthew RestallOxford University Press9780195176117 Available at the Almost Corner Bookshop

In Class ParticipationThis course will primarily be run as a seminar in which we discuss the assigned readings. As such, your active participation in our discussions is absolutely necessary to making the course work well. The high percentage of your grade that will be based on your participation reflects that fact. You should bring a brief observation or question about the readings that you believe we should discuss to each class. On occasion, additional brief in class or out of class reaction papers may be assigned as components of your participation grade. Please note that behaving in ways that create distractions for other members of the class (including the professor) will lower your participation grade. Such behavior includes, but is not limited to: messaging, checking Facebook or other social networks, catching up on e-mail, watching on-line videos, reading non-class related materials, studying for other courses, shopping on-line, and generally any activity that detracts from your or any other classmate's full participation in what we are doing in the classroom.20%
Primary Source Group Presentation and Papers (c. 5 pages per group member) For the Primary Source Group Presentation (5% of course grade), you will use a variety of primary sources to examine a major aspect or event associated with the conquest of Mexico, presenting your findings to the rest of the class. These presentations should be approximately 20-25 minutes in duration. For the Primary Source Paper (c. 5 pages pre group member, 10% of course grade), you will present a portion of your group's findings (please note that each group member 's paper should focus on a different aspect, component, or source/group of sources regarding your topic). Your grade on these two assignments will be determined by the strength of your analysis, the persuasiveness of your argument (including quality of writing and presentation), and the originality of your thought. You will be divided into groups and provided with further information about these assignments during the second or third week of classes. 15%
Research Paper (including draft, revision, and presentation, 12-15 pages)For the research paper (c. 15 pages), you will explore a topic appropriate for the course chosen in consultation with me. Your paper should build on both primary and secondary sources, and in preparing it, I will guide you through the processes of preparing a first draft and revising that draft to produce a stronger final paper. You also will present this paper to the rest of the class for discussion. For these discussions, each of you will also review at least one of your colleagues’ papers, providing both a written review (for the author and for me) and an oral commentary during the discussion of her/his paper in class. The grade on this assignment will be determined by the strength of your analysis and research, the persuasiveness of your argument (including quality of writing), and the originality of your thought. 30%
Final ExamThe final exam will be composed of three sections. The first section will be one essay question building on the course as a whole (chosen from two options that you will be given the week before the exam). For the second, you will analyze an excerpt from a previously unseen secondary source, relating it to the historical approaches/methods that we have explored over the course of the semester. For the third, you will analyze a brief, previously unseen primary source, explaining what it can and cannot tell us about the 'Conquest of the Americas' and explicitly discussing your reasoning and the tools you use to carry out your analysis. The exam will be open book and open notes. Your grade on the exam will depend upon the analytical strength and persuasiveness of your arguments, your capacity to discuss the material we cover in the course as a whole, and the factual accuracy of your answers. 30%
Historiography Group Presentation and Reaction PaperIn these assignments, you will explore how Western historical scholarship has changed from the late nineteenth century forward in terms of topics, approaches, problems, concerns, etc.. The group presentations should be 12-15 minutes long, and the reaction paper should be 2-3 double-spaced pages long. Your grade on these two assignments will be determined by the strength of your analysis, the persuasiveness of your argument (including quality of writing and presentation), and the originality of your thought. For futher guidance, see "A Brief Dive into Historiography Preparation Presentation and Paper Guidelines" in the shared files section of MyJCU.5%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is a highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

See the above discussion of the participation grade.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Important Course Policies
All assignments must be submitted in the form of both hard and electronic copies (e-mail them to me as .pdf, .doc, or .docx files).

All late work will be penalized by at least one letter grade.  No late work will be accepted following the final examination.

Any documented case of academic dishonesty on any assignment will result not only in a failing grade for the assignment in question but also in a failing grade for the course as a whole. Please remember that, as the University's policy states, "Plagiarism can be deliberate or negligent; students are responsible for ensuring that any work submitted with their name on it is properly referenced."  If you have questions about how to cite material properly, refer to the appropriate sections of the MLA Style Manual or Chicago Manual of Style--if you have questions as to whether particular pieces of material should be cited, ask me. Note that submitting work that you have previously submitted (or plan to submit) for credit in another course is also a form of academic dishonesty, unless you obtain explicit approval from both instructors to do so. For this course, no such double submission is allowed. Please note that your papers may be submitted to turnitin.com to check their content for plagiarism.

Accessing Shared Documents on MyJCU and Other Course Readings

1. Go to the internal web site (MY JCU).
2. After you have logged in, click on the course post-it for Fall 2019, HS 200. Then click on shared files.
3. Please note that handouts in the form of pdf documents may not open with some internet browsers (in particular there seem to be incompatibilities with Chrome).  If a source doesn't open, try another browser; if the problem persists please e-mail me.
4. Be sure to check the handouts page frequently for changes and updates. Similarly, I will post messages on the MyJCU board should I need to contact you in between class meetings (e.g., in the case of an unexpected class cancellation).
5. All other course readings are either in the form of the books listed above or available on-line through the links on this syllabus.
6. J-Stor Readings--While on campus, you should be able to access these readings simply by clicking on the links on the syllabus.  On the page that appears, you can find links to download the full article as a PDF file or to print it out.  Off-campus you may need to go to the website for the Frohring Library, click on the link for "Databases" and "J-Stor" and then if need be search for the article manually.

Recommended Reading on Historical Theory and Methodology

You may find the following books (all available in JCU's library) useful in furthering your understanding of historical methods and theory:

Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob, Telling the Truth About History.
Richard J. Evans, In Defense of History.
Mary Fullbrook, Historical Theory.
Martha Howell and Walter Prevenier, From Reliable Sources: An Introduction to Historical Methods.
Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History.
Robert Chadwell Williams, The Historian's Toolbox.

COURSE SCHEDULE  (N.B.  The schedule and specific readings listed below may change.)--last updated October 16

PART ONE:  Introductions

9/3. What is 'History' as a Practice? 

9/5. Perspectives, methodologies, theories?
Appleby, Hunt, and Jacob, "Truth and Objectivity," in Telling the Truth About History, 241-270 (Shared Files, MyJCU)
Fulbrook, Historical Theory, 3-11, 27-30 (Shared Files, MyJCU)

9/10. Approaches and 'Types' of History
Arnold, History: A Very Short Introduction, Chapters 5-6 (Shared Files, MyJCU)
During this week, we will schedule individual meetings to start developing research topics.

9/12. A Brief Dive into Historiography (a.k.a. How has History as a Practice Changed?), Part I
Discussion of The American Historical Association's Guide to Historical Literature--First, Second, and Third Editions (See Shared Files, MyJCU for how to prepare--we'll also discuss this in class beforehand.)

9/17. A Brief Dive into Historiography (a.k.a. How has History as a Practice Changed?), Part II
Group Presentations on Major Historical Journal Contents, 1880s-2010s (See Shared Files, MyJCU for how to prepare--we'll also discuss this in class beforehand.)

PART TWO: Exploring
the 'Conquest' of Mexico through a Revisionist Critique

9/19. The Story?: Early Paradigms and Revisionism
Restall, xiii-xix, 1-26 (Introduction, Ch. 1)
Prescott, The Conquest of Mexico (excerpts), required pp.401-405; recommended all of Book IV, Chapter III (Shared Files, MyJCU)
A Brief Dive into Historiography Reaction Paper Due

9/20. OFFICIAL JCU FRIDAY MAKE-UP--The King's Army?: History from Below, part I
Restall, 27-43 (Ch. 2)

9/24. Sources and Resources: Making the Most of the Library (We will Meet in the Library)
Guest Instructor: Manlio Perugini, Research Librarian

9/26. Sources and Resources, Part II: Preparing for the Primary Source Group Projects
Schwartz, "The Spanish Sources" and "The Indigenous Historical Traditions" (Shared Files, MyJCU)
Burkholder and Johnson, "The Conquest of Mexico" (Shared Files, MyJCU)

10/1. Spanish Conquistadors?: History from Below, part II
Restall, 44-63 (Ch. 3)

10/3. When Did It End?:  Problems of Terminology and Periodization
Restall, 64-76 (Ch. 4)

10/8. Conquest through Communication?:  Problems of Language, Part I
Todorov, The Conquest of America (excerpts) (Shared Files, MyJCU)

10/10. Who did the Speaking?: Problems of Language, Part II
Restall, 77-99 (Ch. 5)
Preliminary Bibliography and Paragraph Outlining Research Topic Due

10/15.  Gods and Natives?:  The Problems of Conversion
Review Restall, 77-99 (Ch. 5)
Restall, 100-130 (Ch. 6)

10/17.  Superiority and 'Civilization'?:  Narratives and Metanarratives
Restall, 131-157 (Ch. 7, Epilogue)

10/22.  Primary Source Group Presentations

PART THREE:  Exploring the 'Conquest'--Other Problems, Approaches, and Interpretations

Cultural Frontiers and Conversions:  Ethnohistory and Gender Analysis

10/24. Ethnohistory and Gender Analysis: An Introduction
Irene Silverblatt, "Introduction" to Moon, Sun, and Witches: Gender Ideologies and Class in Inca and Colonial Peru (Shared Files, MyJCU)
Primary Source Paper Due

10/29. Gender and Conversion on the Frontier: Franciscans and Pueblos in New Mexico
Gutiérrez, "Franciscan Evangelization in New Mexico" (Shared Files, MyJCU)

10/31. The Workings and Meanings of Conversion in the Yucatan
Farriss, "The Cosmic Order in Crisis" (Shared Files, MyJCU)

11/5. Gender, Conversion and 'Resistance': 'Witchcraft' in the Andes
Silverblatt, "Cultural Defiance: The Sorcery Weapon" (Shared Files, MyJCU)

The Material World: Environmental History and Material Culture

11/7. Ecological Imperialism?: Making Use of the Sciences
Miller, "Nature's Conquests" (Shared Files, MyJCU)

11/12. Through the Lens of Material Culture
Bauer, Goods, Power, History (excerpts) (Shared Files, MyJCU)

  YOUR RESEARCH--Research Paper Drafts Due One Week Before you are Presenting

11/14. Presentation/Discussion of Research Papers

11/19. Presentation/Discussion of Research Papers

11/21. Presentation/Discussion of Research Papers    

11/26. Presentaiton/Discussion of Research Papers

PART FIVE: Public History, Memory and Meanings

12/3. Commemorating the Conquest?
Michel-Rolph Trouillot, "Good Day, Columbus" from Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (Shared Files, MyJCU)

12/5. Conclusions
Final Draft of Research Paper Due  (When you hand in your final draft of your research paper, you should also hand in the earlier draft with my comments as well.) 

FINAL EXAM--TBA (Final Exam Period December 9-13)