History 319W
Latin American History and Film


Summer 2008

June 2-20, 2008
12:30pm- 3:45pm

PLS 1119

Prof. Daryle Williams
Department of History
2115 Francis Scott Key Hall
(301) 405-4267
Office Hours: By appointment

Course Description and Organization

HIST 319W tackles four interrelated problems of history and historical interpretation in the era of cinema: 1) How do motion pictures represent the past?; 2) How do historians, moviegoers, and filmmakers approach historical film?; 3) How do specific traditions and techniques of filmmaking represent and interpret the past?; and, 4) how do movies shape the writing of academic historical interpretation?

In addressing these problems, we look at academic and popular readings of a number of motion pictures that purport to say something about selected episodes/themes in the history of modern Latin America. The majority of the films screened will be feature-length, commercial films, but we will make some forays in documentaries and educational films.

The course meets every day of the Summer Session IA (June 2-20, 2008). Class sessions will last three hours and fifteen minutes, including a break.

The Summerterm Format

Our summerterm format is very well-suited for the study of film. The extended daily sessions provide sufficient time to screen and discuss each film and related readings. The single greatest drawback to this format is that a semester's worth of work must be squeezed into three weeks, rather than fourteen. The pacing is, obviously, much faster than a conventional semester. It will be very difficult to make up for missed work. Therefore, it is extremely important that all students budget their time so that they are able to dedicate at least 90 minutes per day beyond in-class time to meet all course requirements.

Course Requirements

The First Writing Assignment, due on Friday, June 6, asks that you develop a five-page critical response to the Forum about film and history published in the December 1988 American Historical Review. Your response should be framed in the voice of a university student of history. You are encouraged to draw upon the films screened during the first week of class.

The Second Writing Assignment, due Monday, June 16, asks that you write a five-page review of a selected film screened during the second week of class. Additional instructions will be distributed in class.

There will be a final exam, to be held Friday, June 20. The examination will include identifications and essays based, in part, upon film screened during the third week of class.

Grading Policies

Final grades will be determined by the following formula:

25% First Writing Assignment
25% Second Writing Assignment
25% Final Examination
25% Participation

Active participation and lively discussions enrich everyone's learning experience. It is important that all students use the in-class discussions to engage the assigned materials and one another. Active participation will work in your favor should your final grade fall on a borderline.

Late papers will not be accepted without prior approval. With the exception of legitimate excuses, late papers may be subject to a grade penalty of one full grade for each day late.

Statement of Academic Integrity

Essential to the fundamental purpose of the University is the commitment to principles of truth and academic honesty. Because academic dishonesty, which refers to cheating, plagiarism, or helping someone else to cheat or commit plagiarism, jeopardizes the quality of education and depreciates the genuine achievement of others it must be reported to the Honor Council. The Code of Academic Integrity guides this and all other courses taught at the University of Maryland. Violations may result in a failing grade and/or referral to a University disciplinary committee. The full text of the Code is available on-line at: http://www.studenthonorcouncil.umd.edu/code.html.

The Honor Pledge

Under the provisions of the resolution adopted by the University Senate on April 9, 2001, and approved by President C. Dan Mote on May 10, 2001, all students will be asked to write by hand and sign the following pledge on all written assignments and examinations, unless otherwise instructed: "I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this assignment/examination." For additional information on the Student Honor Pledge, visit: http://www.umd.edu/honorpledge.


Students are expected to watch all assigned films during the regularly scheduled class sessions. Most of the films are available for re-screening at Nonprint Media Services in Hornbake Library.  Many of the films are also available through commercial video rental/sales outlets.

Assigned Readings

The following readings are required:

"AHR Forum" American Historical Review 93:5 (December 1988) [JSTOR]

Rosenstone, Robert, "History in Images/History in Words: Reflections on the Possibility of Really Putting History onto Film," pp. 1173-1185.

Herlihy, David, "Am I a Camera? Other Reflections on Films and History," pp. 1186-1192.

White, Hayden, "Historiography and Historiophoty," pp. 1193-1199

O'Connor, John E., "History in Images/Images in History: Reflections on the Importance of Film and Television Study for an Understanding of the Past," pp. 1200-1209.

Collier, Simon, "Nationality, Nationalism, and Supranationalism in the Writings of Simon Bolivar," Hispanic American Historical Review 63:1 (1983): 37-64.  [JSTOR]

Dorfman, Ariel. "Afterward from Death and the Maiden," Southwest Review 85:3 (Summer 2000): 350-5. [EBSCO]

Guevara, Ernesto "Che" "Man and Socialism in Cuba" (1965) Available in an official translation at http://www.marxists.org/archive/guevara/1965/03/man-socialism.htm.

Said, Edward. "The Dictatorship of Truth: An Interview with Gillio Pontecorvo," Cineaste 25:2 (2000): 24-25. [EBSCO]

Sweig, Julia. Inside the Cuban Revolution: Fidel Castro and the Urban Underground. New edition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004.

Weschler, Lawrence. A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

The following reading is recommended:

Chasteen, John Charles. Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America. Second ed. New York: Norton, 2005.

All assigned monographs will be available for purchase through the University Book Center and online vendors. These books will also be held on two-hour reserves at the Course Reserves Desk of McKeldin Library.

Required full-text journal articles can be freely accessed, read, and downloaded through the ResearchPort link of the University Libraries homepage.

Film Resources

The University Libraries have prepared a very extensive list of resources related to the study of cinema and the motion picture industry. The list includes major print and electronic resources such as Film Literature Index, International Dictionary of Films and Filmmaker, International Index to Film Periodicals, Lexis-Nexis Academic, MLA International Bibliography, and the Internet Movie Database.

For a complete list, see: http://www.lib.umd.edu/MCK/GUIDES/film_reviews.html

Course Schedule

Week IA: History and Film

"AHR Forum" American Historical Review December 1988 [JSTOR]

Week IB: The Wars of Independence: Liberty or Farce?

The Price of Freedom (1991)
Simon Bolivar
Burn! (1969)
Manuela Saenz: La Libertadora del Libertador (2000)
Bolívar Soy Yo! (2002)

Collier, "Nationality, Nationalism, and Supranationalism…" [JSTOR]
Selected writings of Simón Bolívar
Said, "The Dictatorship of Truth" [EBSCO]

Week II: The Cuban Revolution: Idealism and Disillusionment

Los Diarios de Motocicleta/The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
Я - Куба/I Am Cuba (1964)
Memorias del subdesarrollo/Memories of Underdevelopment (1968)
Mauvaise conduite/Improper conduct (1984)
Before Night Falls (2001)
Azúcar amarga/Bitter Sugar (1996)

Sweig, Inside the Cuban Revolution
Guevara, "Man and Socialism in Cuba" [LINK]

Week III: The National Security State

Capital Sins: Authoritarianism and Democratization (1993)
O que é isso companhiero?/Four Days in September (1997)
Cabra-Cega (2004)
O Olho do Furacčo (2003)
La Historia Oficial/The Official Story (1982)
Death and the Maiden (1995)

Weschler, A Miracle, A Universe
Dorfman, "Afterward from Death and the Maiden" [EBSCO]