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Course Description

Instructor Information

Professor:  Darién J. Davis

Office:  Axin 335

Office Hours:  Tuesdays and  Thursdays 11:00am-12:30pm and by appointment

Telephone:  (office) ext. #3167

Course Description
In this course we will study the modern history of the Caribbean focusing on Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and Jamaica but making connections to other nations from 1789 to the present day. We will pay close attention to the independence movement, abolition, construction of national cultures, and the impact of Europeans and Africans on each nation, as well as to the connections among these major islands in the 19th and 20th century and to the other islands and mainland nations. We will discuss diverse revolutionary political and cultural movements, issues of poverty and development, and issues of migration.

Class Meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:30 AM-10:45am  (AXN 103)

Readings and Websites

All required readings from books may be purchased from the bookstore or elsewhere. All essays or excerpts will be posted online. Books are marked with an asterisk.  The only  book that we will be reading in almost its entirety is Franklin Knight’s Modern Caribbean


excerpts from Chomsky et al., The Cuban Reader



*James Ferguson, The Dominican Republic:  Beyond the Lighthouse (required)



*Edwidge Danticat, The Dew Breaker

The Agronomist (documentary)

Heading South (dramatic film)



chapters from Franklin Knight,  The Caribbean



Fernando Picó, The History of Puerto Rico







Requirements and Grading:

Participation: 30%

includes 1 map/watershed quiz (10 %)

participation and leading small group discussions (10%)

*questions will be assigned weekly.  At the beginning or end of  class will be broken into 2 or 3 groups with assigned discussion leaders.

Group Presentation (10%)

Mid-Term Exam: 25%

One Three page Paper:  20%

Final Exam 25%

General Discussion Assignments: Students will be assigned several discussion questions over the semester. Discussion will focus on historical events and their connections to contemporary history.  Students should be prepared to answer those questions in class or in assigned groups during class time. If you are not prepared to answer the question you will receive a “0” for discussion.  I suggest you prepare a one-page response outline of the discussion assignment prior to the class discussion.   Most discussions will require that you take a “position” on some aspect of the topic being discussed. Students will also be asked to come up with discussion questions based on the readings. You discussion grade will come from your responses to the prepared questions, your questions, and your ability to respond to the  questions raised by your peers.

Remember: Class begins on time. Excessive tardiness is disruptive to class so please make an effort to be on time or slip in quietly if you have to be late.

In-Class Presentations:

All students will be required to sign up for a group presentation (with at least three other persons in class).  You will be expected to give a brief (timed) presentation  BETWEEN 6-8 MINUTES).  You may choose to present information based on a primary sources, a newspaper article, or some specific event, law or issue in the country that we are studying or approach the assignment creatively by performing a historical re-enactment, presenting a short film clip, etc….  You will be graded on three aspects: 1. The clarity of your presentation (public speaking or presentation); 2.  The viability of your thesis/ideas; 3.  Your research (as indicative of the bibliography).  Please see separate handout for further details. You must hand in a one-page outline with a bibliography including at least three sources. Students may also choose to express their historical knowledge in other formats such as skits, songs or other ways. You may choose to use a power point presentation but do not use the presentation as a crutch. Keep the slides to a maximum of  five slides. Do not write paragraphs on the slides. Use bullet points instead. See me for further details.

Exams: There will be  one map and chronology quiz (20 minutes of class time). There will also be one  midterm due the week before the mid term break. See separate guide for types of questions, and one final. In fairness to all students, exams or mid-terms cannot be rescheduled.

Research Paper: The paper should ideally be 4 pages long but not be longer than 5 pages typed double spaced (Time New Roman ) not including bibliography and notes.  The paper will deal with an issue related to the history of one of the islands we are studying.  You should commit to a general area for study by the midterm. Preliminary proposals may be handed into me at any time before April 4. Final proposals (See guidelines) outlining your paper as well as a working bibliography should be handed in to me by class time on April 18th. Final papers will be due on the last day of the course (Thursday in class). All  late papers will be  docked a letter grade for each day late.

P.D.: The professor reserves the right to make changes to the syllabus in accordance with class dynamics and progress.

Rough draft Full schedule of lectures and readings: SyllabusSp16