History/LAS 465

Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Early Latin America

Spring 2010

Professor Chad Black
Email: cblack6-at-utk.edu
Office: 2629, 6th Floor Dunford Hall
Office Hours: T 11:00-12:00, 1:30-2:30

Hear me one moment– | Un instant me escuchen,

I’m all set to sing | que cantar quiero

of a moment that stood | un instante que estuvo

outside of time! | Fuera del tiempo!

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz [1689]

[Women and men] make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly found, given and transmitted from the past.
Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte

Scholars and activists frequently claim that the current status of women in Latin America stems from a colonial legacy of gender oppression and sexual repression. And yet, the status of women has changed substantially, not always for the better, since the colonial period. Similarly, sexuality in the colonial period contradicts modern notions of an evolution of sexual constraints constructed through public and private divisions of social space. This course examines the sources, methodologies, and theoretical approaches that shape the history of women and sexuality in early Latin America. The readings represent ethnic, racial, and class-based distinctions among women and emphasize the importance of using diverse approaches in the reconstruction women’s history and culture, particularly for indigenous and African women. The course ends with an analysis of how female figures from the colonial period, such as La Malinche and the Virgin of Guadalupe, have been incorporated into modern political agendas by intellectuals and political activists. Students will read, analyze, and discuss both primary and secondary sources to understand how history is conceived and written.

Course Policies

Please note: If any special accommodations are needed to complete the requirements of this course, please come see me at the beginning of the semester. No make-up exams or incompletes will be given without medical documentation.

Absences: Multiple absences from the class meetings will be noted and will affect a student’s participation grade.

Deadlines: Assignments must be emailed to the instructor no later than the beginning of class on the day they are due, or at some other specified time established by the professor. It is important to be technologically savvy in today’s world. Much of our communication occurs through email, including the sharing of documents and other work product. Late papers will not be accepted for any reason without prior arrangement. This includes technology problems. You’re responsible for attaching your work correctly and sending it in on time.

Cell Phones and Laptops: Please silence our cell phones prior to class. Please do not text during class. I’m not so vain as to think students are live twittering my compelling lectures, so leave the SMS for outside of class. Laptops are allowed only if students use them responsibly. In the case of our class, that means to access readings or to take notes. Anything else is inappropriate (emailing, facebook, etc.). If I find a student using a laptops for non-course related activities, that student will be asked to put the laptop away, and not bring it back to class. If this happens repeatedly, the rule will change to no laptops.

Plagiarism: Plagiarism occurs when someone knowingly or unknowingly presents the words or ideas of another person as her or his own. Any work turned for this class must meet University standards for academic honesty. Any students who are unsure about how to apply these rules are urged to consult with Professor Black prior to turning in any written work. Plagiarized assignments will result at a minimum in a zero/F for that assignment, and can result in failure of the class and/or turning the matter in to student judicial affairs at your professor’s discretion.

Deadlines: Assignments are due in class and must be handed in at the start of the class session. Late submissions will only be accepted in cases of documented family or medical emergencies.

Office Hours: Students are strongly encouraged to speak with me outside of class. The advantages of talking with me include: extra help on an assignment or preparation for an exam; clarification of materials covered in lecture, discussion of my comments on your work; discussion of this or related courses. I am available during office hours on a first-come, first-served basis; if you cannot come by during office hours, please contact me via email or phone and I will be happy to set up an appointment with you.


The following texts are required for purchase and are available at the UT Bookstore:

  1. Gauderman, Kimberly. Women’s Lives in Colonial Quito. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003.
  2. Schroeder, Susan, Stephanie Wood and Robert Haskett, editors. Indian Women in Early Mexico. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999.
  3. Seed, Patricia. To Love Honor and Obey. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992.
  4. Sexual Encounters/Sexual Collisions: a special issue of Ethnohistory. Durham: Duke University Press, 2007. [Also available through EBSCOHOST.]

All other readings will be available on the course website on the Schedule and Readings page.