Skip to main content
Indiana University
People  |  
Cultural Studies Program

Courses :: CULS C701 Topic: The Promise and Failure of Revolutionary Movements

This course's primary aim is to aid students to research and write scholarly articles and/or potential dissertation chapters. The course will also have a common theme: the promise and failure of Latin American revolutionary movements during the 1960s and 1970s.  The class will begin with some methodological readings that will orient the student about different approaches to historical research. The subsequent readings will address several questions: a). What were the key debates and what was the relationship between scholarship and politics in the 1960s and 1970s? Are the unresolved debates from that era still relevant? B). What were the causes, consequences and historical significance of the Latin American 1968? c) Since 1989, intellectuals and scholars have attributed violence in Latin America and elsewhere to revolutionary utopian thought. How do we evaluate that argument? Specifically, in the Central American case, US policy makers and some academics argue that it was the revolutionary left that provoked the violent response of the state and thus bears a major responsibility for the human tragedy that engulfed the region. During the 1970s, were there other alternatives to achieving social change and democracy in the region? d) Indigenous and women’s movements have also levied significant charges against the revolutionary left for its blindness and insensitivity toward issues of ethnicity and gender. One question that emerges from this discussion is whether or not the left enabled, while limiting, the emergence of these social movements. 
Although students will be encouraged to link their topic with the specific themes of the course, they will not be required to do so. Student research, however, should have some bearing on some aspect of the course.
One-half of the classes will be taken up with group discussions. During those weeks, students will be expected to write 1-2 page commentaries on the readings which will be due by Sunday evening and posted on the One Course site. The commentaries should end with some discussion questions. They will be expected to read the other commentaries and to bring a printed copy of their own to class. The remaining weeks will be devoted to individual discussions with the professor. At the end of the semester, students will offer oral critiques of each other's written work and two class sessions at the end of the semester will be devoted to the students' papers.