HIST 4527: Mexican American History since 1848 – Syllabus

Fall 2021 | TTh 11:10am-12:25pm

Dr. Natalie Mendoza (she/her)

Email: natalie.mendozagutierrez@colorado.edu

COURSE DESCRIPTION

In this course we will explore the history of Mexican-descent people in the United States from 1848 to the present. We will be guided by questions about equality and inclusion, with special attention to the way the identity of Mexican-descent people has changed over time and the implications of this for how Mexicans and Mexican Americans have or have not been included in the nation. We will proceed with our inquiry this semester by learning how to use historical literacy—the ability to read, think, and write in ways specific and essential to a critical study of the past—as well as by thinking about the role public sites of historical memory play in the national story that is told about the American past, including what they reveal about shared values, identity, and sense of belonging in the nation. For more, see “Guiding Questions for the Semester” below.  

Recommended Prerequisite: HIST 1025 American History since 1865

GUIDING QUESTIONS FOR THE SEMESTER

In what ways have race, class, gender, sexuality, and citizenship shaped the lived experiences of Mexican-descent people (both US-born and immigrant) in the United States?

Similarly, how have these same units of analysis affected the way broader society has either hindered or promoted the full equality, inclusion, and humane treatment of people of Mexican-descent in the United States? We will also examine how people of Mexican-descent have negotiated and responded to these conditions.  

How has the identity of Mexican-descent people in the United States evolved over time? Who has influenced the way this identity formation has taken place?

We will explore how the identity of people of Mexican descent living in the United States has been negotiated since the end of the US War with Mexico in 1848. Underlying this inquiry is a bigger question about what it has meant to be an American. As with the first theme and questions, we will examine the ways in which race, class, gender, sexuality, and citizenship have shaped identity formation, as well as activism, in the Mexican-descent community.

As for who has influenced identity formation, we will examine this question in at least two ways: First, we will consider the role the government has played in defining “American” identity and the implications of this for how the Mexican-descent population has or has not been included in the nation; and second, we will explore how people of Mexican descent have considered their collective identity.

In what ways does the history of Mexican America appear in public sites of historical memory in the United States?

In exploring this question, we will consider the role public sites play in shaping the national story that is told about the American past, as well as what the inclusion or exclusion of Mexican Americans in public sites of historical memory reveal about the nation’s shared values, identity, and sense of belonging in the nation.

COURSE LEARNING GOALS

The four learning goals I’ve set for this course (below) align with Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) the History Department developed through its History Teaching & Learning Project (2017-2019).

  1. Develop historical literacy—the skills and concepts we need to answer questions about the past
    • How to read, write, and think about primary sources (Substantive Essentials: SLOs 1.2-1.4)
    • How to read, write, and think about other sources of historical knowledge (Substantive Essentials: SLOs 1.2-1.4)
    • How to use key historical concepts (the 5 Cs) and units of analysis to make sense of the past (Conceptual Foundations: SLOs 2.1-2.4, History and Perspective: SLO 5.2)
  2. Demonstrate a deep understanding of identity and belonging in the history of Mexican America (Substantive Essentials: SLOs 1.1 and 1.4)
  3. Examine and analyze the construction of historical narrative (Analysis of Historical Narrative: SLOs 3.1-3.4; Production of Historical Knowledge: 4.1-4.3)
  4. Make an argument for why history matters to the present (History and Perspective: SLOs 5.2-5.3)

COURSE STRUCTURE & SCHEDULE QUICKVIEW

Our course structure is organized around four categories with distinct goals and tasks designed to help us answer our guiding questions this semester: 1) three weeks on history in the public imagination, 2) five units (nine weeks) on Mexican American history, 3) one self-directed study week, and 4) two project workshop weeks. See the detailed schedule below.

As for class meeting structure, we will be following the “flipped classroom” method[1], which means our time together in-person will be student-centered and will prioritize active learning in contrast to a lecture model that can oftentimes (but not always) be teacher-centered. Research shows that students learn better when they actively and frequently do something with course material than if not.[2] What does that look like for our class? As we move through each of the five units on Mexican American history, for instance, you will regularly practice applying historical literacy skills (learning goal #1, above) to course materials before and during our scheduled class meeting times. There will be, in other words, little to no lecturing from me during class (but certainly in the materials you engage before our in-person meetings).

EXPLANATION OF FINAL GRADE BREAKDOWN & ASSIGNMENTS

Your final course grade consists of five (5) weighted categories: Participation and Preparation (25%), Unit Analyses (30%), Project Workshop Week #1 (10%), Project Workshop Week #2 (15%), Final Project (20%). The following includes some brief explanation of what you will need to do to earn points in these five categories. For detailed instructions, see the course Canvas site.

Participation and Preparation (25% of total course grade)

  • Syllabus & Canvas Review    
  • Quickwrite #1: What is History?                                           
  • Quickwrite #2: Revisit – What is History?                            
  • Quickwrite #3: Revisit (again) – What is History?               
  • Plan for Self-Directed Study Week                                       
  • Reflection for Self-Directed Study Week                 
  • Prep Tasks: The purpose of Prep Tasks is to help you prepare for in-class discussion and activities. These are nothing onerous—perhaps a guiding question for thinking about the course materials for the day, or selecting a quote from the primary sources—but will certainly make for a better discussion during class, will better prepare you for any activities we may do, and, most importantly, will provide you with examples and evidence from class that will ultimately help you complete the unit analyses. There are twenty (20) Prep Tasks (see schedule below for dates). Please note that I will drop the five (5) lowest Prep Task scores at the end of the semester as I calculate your final course grade.

Unit Analyses (30% of total course grade)

  • 4 Unit Analyses (1000-1250 words each): The analyses are meant to help you demonstrate what you learned in each unit in terms of Mexican American history, but also to see how well you apply historical literacy skills to the course materials. There are five units, but you will write analyses for only four of the units. Please note that I will drop the one (1) lowest score in the unit analyses category at the end of the semester as I calculate your final course grade.

Final Project Museum or Monument Proposal (materials for completing proposal here)

For the final project, you will write a proposal for a public site memorializing some aspect of Mexican American history. Your main task will be to choose a historical person, event, or idea from the course materials we’ve studied in common and make an argument for why your chosen topic warrants its own monument or museum exhibit for public consumption. To help you develop this argument you will also examine the way the history of Mexican America appears in existing public sites of historical memory and how this shapes the national story that is ultimately told about our past. Lastly, you will have two opportunities to complete some preparatory work—through two project workshop weeks—that will assist you in completing the final project, the proposal.

  • Project Workshop Week #1 – Preliminary Analysis (10% of total course grade): For the first workshop you will submit a Preliminary Analysis of Mexican American history in the public imagination. You will identify 3-6 public sites of historical memory that focus on, or which you think ought to include, some aspect of the history of Mexican America. The goal is to do gain a general sense of how the history of Mexican America does or does not appear in public sites of historical memory. You will share and discuss your preliminary analysis with your peer group in workshop #1 during week 8; the Preliminary Analysis is due Friday of the Project Workshop week.
  • Project Workshop Week #2 – Proposal Draft (15% of total course grade): For the second workshop, you will draft a Proposal in which you share an idea for creating either a museum exhibit or monument that draws upon our course materials. This does not need to be a perfect draft. You will want to have at least thought about the evidence you’d like to use to describe the topic you’ve chosen (from course materials and, if you choose, your own independent research—but you will have to consult with me if you select this option) and what the monument or museum exhibit will look like. Again, understand that what you will be sharing is a draft, and that the purpose of the workshop is to help you further develop your ideas at this stage in the project—it’s okay if you’re still not sure about a topic or why it should be shared with the public. You will share and discuss your draft with your peer group in workshop #2 during week 13; the Proposal Draft is due Friday of the Project Workshop week.
  • Final Project – Final Draft of Proposal (20% of total course grade): The final project itself—what you submit on the final exam day—is a finalized version of the Proposal you will have already been working on for weeks, during the project workshops and in the self-directed study week.

EXTENSIONS; GRACE PERIOD

I will grant extensions on deadlines in the event that you need it due to illness or COVID-related issues. I cannot stress this enough: Please do not hesitate to contact me if you are having any issues with completing the course, especially for circumstances beyond your control. I am here to support you in your learning, but can only do so if you communicate with me. 

24-Hour Grace Period Policy To account for technical difficulties, I allow for a 24-hour grace period for submitting assignments on Canvas; during this period the grades earned for these assignments will not be penalized. Assignments submitted after the grace period will be penalized for every 24 hours of lateness thereafter. When in doubt, contact me, even if I’m not able to respond right away.

READINGS & OTHER COURSE MATERIALS

There are no books to purchase for this course. All of the required readings and other course materials are available to you on our course site on Canvas—I have either provided links or PDFs, or you can locate these materials through the university library. There are, though, two books I do recommend if:

  • You need background or a refresher on US history: Eric Foner, The Story of American Freedom (New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1998); electronic copy available in university library
  • You’d like to have additional background on Mexican American history: Zaragosa Vargas, Crucible of Struggle: A History of Mexican Americans from Colonial Times to the Present Era (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017, 2011); physical copy available in university library

COURSE SCHEDULE


Weeks 1-3:
History in the Public Imagination

WEEK 1

Tuesday 8/24 | Welcome, Course-at-a-Glance; What is History?

Thursday 8/26 | History in the Present

BEFORE CLASS:

IN CLASS:

DUE to Canvas on Friday 8/27 at 10pm

Syllabus & Canvas Review

QUICKWRITE #1 What is History?

WEEK 2

Tuesday 8/31 | What is Historical Literacy?

BEFORE CLASS:

IN CLASS: PRIMARY SOURCE SET (5 items); access on Canvas site only

  • Alcaraz, Origin of the War (1850)
  • Annexation (1845)
  • Great War Meeting (1848)
  • Jose Maria Tomel y Mendivil (1837)
  • Juan Bautista Vigil y Alarid Speech (1846)

Thursday 9/2 | Doing History with Primary Sources

BEFORE CLASS:

IN CLASS:

  • Primary Source Set from Tuesday 8/31

WEEK 3

Tuesday 9/7 | Confronting the Past in the Present

BEFORE CLASS:

Thursday 9/9 |What is Historical Memory?

BEFORE CLASS: 6 SHORT VIDEOS; 3 SHORT READINGS – watch & read in order shown below

  • 5 SHORT VIDEOS (combined under 10 minutes): Historical Memory, Choice Programs at Brown University; access on Canvas           
  • READING: Christopher McKnight Nichols, “Confronting the Past: Difficult Questions and Public History Today” Oregon Historical Society (February 4, 2020)
  • VIDEO (just under 3 minutes): “Brené Brown on Empathy,” YouTube Video (December 10, 2013)
  • READING EXCERPT: Heather L. Bennett, “Affect and Historical Empathy: Introduction,” in “Hashtag History: Historical Thinking & Social Media in an Undergraduate Classroom in Singapore” (PhD Dissertation, Drew University, 2019); PDF excerpt on Canvas site
  • READING: Jonathan W. Wilson, “Who Gets Historical Empathy?” (March 19, 2019) Teaching United States History website
  • Prep Task #5

DUE to Canvas on Friday 9/10 at 10pm

QUICKWRITE #2 Revisit: What is History?


Weeks 4-5:
Shifting Borders and Identities, 1848-1910s

WEEK 4

Tuesday 9/14 | White by Treaty – US War with Mexico (1846-1848)  

BEFORE CLASS:

  • VIDEO LECTURE: “White by Treaty: US War with Mexico (1846-1848)”; access on Canvas site only
  • VIDEO LECTURE: “Capitalist Imperialism”; access on Canvas site only
  • Prep Task #6

IN CLASS: PRIMARY SOURCE SET (5 items—set we read in week 2); access on Canvas site only

  • Alcaraz, Origin of the War (1850)
  • Annexation (1845)
  • Great War Meeting (1848)
  • Jose Maria Tomel y Mendivil (1837)
  • Juan Bautista Vigil y Alarid Speech (1846)

Thursday 9/16 | Land Loss & Resistance

IN CLASS: PRIMARY SOURCE SET (6 items); access on Canvas site only

  • Cortina Pledges Resistance (1859)
  • El Clamor Público articles (1856)
  • Las Gorras Blancas Proclamation (1890)
  • Miguel Antonio Otero, My Life on the Frontier (1880)
  • Petition Antonio Maria Pico et al (1859)
  • Report of Mexican Commission on Northern Frontier (1873)

WEEK 5

Tuesday 9/21 | Dispossession through the Eyes of Women

BEFORE CLASS:

  • DOCUMENTARY CLIP (~13 minutes): The West, “Tejas and the Alamo”
  • DOCUMENTARY CLIP (~6 minutes): The West, “Republic of the Rio Grande”
  • PRIMARY SOURCE (~9 pages): Jovita Gonzalez, “America Invades the Border Towns,” Southwest Review Vol. 15, No. 4 (Summer 1930): 469-477; access on Canvas site only
  • Prep Task #7

Thursday 9/23 | Review for Unit Analysis #1; Discuss Project Workshop Week #1 (week 8)

IN CLASS:

  • Review for Unit Analysis #1 – make sure you have access to your notes and the readings from unit 1 (weeks 4-5) during class
  • We will discuss what you can expect from and will need to prepare for Project Workshop Week #1

Weeks 6-7:
Violence & Removal in the American Southwest, 1910s-1930s

WEEK 6  

Tuesday 9/28 | “The Mexican Problem”: Race and Immigration in the American Southwest

BEFORE CLASS:

  • VIDEO LECTURE: “Racial Restriction & Exemption in Immigration Policy”; access on Canvas site only
  • Prep Task #8

IN CLASS: PRIMARY SOURCE SET (2 items); access on Canvas site only

  • John Box Speech to Congress, Congressional Record, 69 (1928), No. 3
  • California Development Association, “Survey of the Mexican Labor Problem in California” (c. 1928)

Thursday 9/30 | Eugenics: Sterilization & Criminalization of Mexican-descent in California

BEFORE CLASS:

  • VIDEO LECTURE: “Pacific Colony: Eugenics and Sterilization of Mexican-descent Women in Early 20th Century”; access on Canvas site only
  • SCHOLARLY ARTICLE (14 pages): Miroslava Chávez-García, “Youth of Color and California’s Carceral State: The Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility” The Journal of American History 102, issue 1 (June 2015): 47-60
  • Prep Task #9

DUE to Canvas on Friday 10/1 at 10pm

Unit Analysis #1

WEEK 7

Tuesday 10/5 | “Refusing to Forget”: Memory & Anti-Mexican Violence on the Texas-Mexico Border

BEFORE CLASS:

IN CLASS: It would be great if you could access these websites in class via an electronic device; if you are not able to do this, do make sure to bring notes for reference during our class discussion

Thursday 10/7 | Deportation & Repatriation during Great Depression; Review for Unit Analysis #2

BEFORE CLASS:

  • READING (8 pages): Natalie Mendoza, “Deportation and Repatriation during the Great Depression” (2021); access on Canvas site only
  • Prep Task #11

IN CLASS: PRIMARY SOURCE SET (2 items); access on Canvas site only

  • Carey McWilliams, “Getting Rid of the Mexican” The American Mercury (March 1933)
  • Letter (excerpt), Mexican Consulate to Mexican-descent people in San Diego (August 1932)
  • Review for Unit Analysis #2 – make sure you have access to your notes and the readings from unit 2 (weeks 6-7) during class

Week 8:
Project Workshop Week #1 – Preliminary Analysis: What’s Our National Story?

Tuesday 10/12 | What’s Our National Story?

BEFORE CLASS:

IN CLASS:

  • Materials from weeks 1-3 History in the Public Imagination – make sure you have access to these during class

Thursday 10/14 | Peer Workshop and Discussion

BEFORE CLASS:

  • Be prepared to discuss what you found in your Preliminary Analysis and any initial Proposal ideas

IN CLASS:

  • Peer workshop and discussion

DUE to Canvas on Friday 10/15 at 10pm

Preliminary Analysis (w/notes from workshopping)


Weeks 9-10:
Emergence of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, 1920s-1940s

WEEK 9

Tuesday 10/19 | League of United Latin American Citizens

BEFORE CLASS:

  • VIDEO LECTURE: “LULAC: Citizenship & Identity in the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement”; access on Canvas site only
  • PRIMARY SOURCE (11 pages): George I. Sánchez, LULAC Speech, “Minority Groups and Democracy” (1939)
  • Prep Task #13

Thursday 10/21 | “Labor Rights are Civil Rights”

BEFORE CLASS:

  • PRIMARY SOURCE (5 pages): Emma Tenayuca and Homer Brooks, “The Mexican Question in the Southwest” The Communist (1939); access on Canvas site only
  • Prep Task #14

DUE to Canvas on Friday 10/22 at 10pm

Unit Analysis #2

WEEK 10

Tuesday 10/26 | “Americans All!”: Mexican Americans in the World War II Era

BEFORE CLASS:

  • VIDEO LECTURE: “World War II: The Fight for Democracy”; access on Canvas site only
  • READING (6 pages): Natalie Mendoza, “Mexican Americans during World War II” (2021); access on Canvas site only
  • Prep Task #15

IN CLASS: PRIMARY SOURCE (1 item)

  • Pictorial Booklet, Spanish Speaking Americans in the War: The Southwest (1943); access on Canvas site only

Thursday 10/28 | Mendez v. Westminster – NO CLASS/office hours by appointment only this week

ON YOUR OWN:

  • VIDEO LECTURE: “Mendez v. Westminster: Race and Language in the Legal Challenge to Mexican American School Segregation”; access on Canvas site only

Weeks 11-12:
Continuity & Change – Politics, Identity & Gender, 1950s-1970s

WEEK 11

Tuesday 11/2 | La Causa: the United Farm Workers Movement

BEFORE CLASS:

  • VIDEO LECTURE: “Creating a Farm Labor Movement”; access on Canvas site only
  • Prep Task #16

IN CLASS: PRIMARY SOURCE (1 item)

  • UFW Newsletter, El Malcriado: The Voice of the Farm Worker (August 1, 1968)

Thursday 11/4 | Chicanismo: Identity, Ideology, and Activism

BEFORE CLASS:

  • VIDEO LECTURE: “Chicanismo: Identity, Ideology, and Activism”; access on Canvas site only
  • Prep Task #17

IN CLASS: PRIMARY SOURCE SET (2 items); access on Canvas site only

  • UMAS, “The United Mexican American Students, August 1968-July 1969, Historical Growth and Development and Proposal (excerpt—just about 10 pages); full 61-page document available on Boulder Latino History Project website
  • UMAS, “Areas and Objectives of Projects and Departments Concerning the United Mexican American Students and the University of Colorado” (summer 1969)

WEEK 12

Tuesday 11/9 | Hispanic Conservatism

BEFORE CLASS:

  • SCHOLARLY CHAPTER (22 pages): Geraldo Cadava, “The Roots of Hispanic Conservatism in the Wartime West” in World War II and the West It Wrought edited by Mark Brilliant and David M. Kennedy (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2020); electronic copy of book available to you through university library
  • Prep Task #18

Thursday 11/11 | No Más Bebés (No More Babies); Review for Unit Analysis #4

BEFORE CLASS:

  • Documentary: No Más Bebés directed by Renee Tajima-Peña (2015); watch first 45 minutes (will watch rest in class); streaming video available to you through university library
  • Prep Task #19

IN CLASS:

  • Finish watching No Más Bebés
  • Review for Unit Analysis #4 – make sure you have access to your notes and the readings from unit 4 (weeks 11-12) during class

Week 13:
Project Workshop Week #2 – Draft: Museum or Monument Proposal

Tuesday 11/16 | Peer Workshop and Discussion

BEFORE CLASS:

  • Be prepared to discuss any ideas you have; if possible, bring in a Proposal draft, even if incomplete

IN CLASS:

  • Peer workshop and discussion

Thursday 11/18 | Peer Workshop and Discussion  

IN CLASS:

  • Finish Proposal draft
  • If time, develop Self-Directed Study Plan for Week 15

DUE to Canvas on Friday 11/19 at 10pm

Proposal Draft

Self-Directed Study Plan for Week 15


Week 14:
No Class – Fall Break


Week 15:
Self-Directed Study Week

Tuesday 11/30 | Self-Directed Study Time – NO CLASS/add’l office hours during class meeting time

Thursday 12/2 | Self-Directed Study Time – NO CLASS/add’l office hours during class meeting time

DUE to Canvas on Friday 12/3 at 10pm

Unit Analysis #3


Week 16:
Racializing Legality in Immigration Debates, 1960s-1990s | Semester Wrap-Up

Tuesday 12/7 | Racializing Legality in Post-1965 Immigration Debates

BEFORE CLASS:

  • READING (9 pages): Natalie Mendoza, “Racializing Legality in the Post-1965 Immigration Debates” (2021); access on Canvas site only
  • Prep Task #20

IN CLASS: PRIMARY SOURCE SET (3 items); access on Canvas site only

  • “High Tide of Immigration” Judge (1903)
  • Immigration Quota Political Cartoon (1921)
  • Magazine Cover American Legion, “Our Illegal Alien Problem” (1974)

Thursday 12/9 | Semester Wrap-Up

IN CLASS:

  • Debrief & discuss Quickwrite #3: What is History?

DUE to Canvas on Thursday 12/9 at 10pm

QUICKWRITE #3 Revisit (again): What is History?


DUE to Canvas on final exam day, Tuesday 12/14 no later than 4pm

Final Project – Museum or Monument Proposal

Reflection on Self-Directed Study Week

Unit Analysis #4


[1] Cynthia J. Brame, “Flipping the Classroom,” Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University website, https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/flipping-the-classroom/

[2] For one study, see: Louis Deslauriers, et al., “Measuring actual learning versus feeling of learning in response to being actively engaged in the classroom,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (24 September 2019): 19251-19257.

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