Jamie Roth
Telephone: 303.458.4912 (office) or 303.458.4915 (sociology desk)
Email: [email protected]
Web Page: or
(Or simply go to faculty web pages)
Office Hours in Loyola Hall, room 24:
Monday, 10:30 – 12:00
Tuesday, 1:45 -3:00
Wednesday, 10:30 – 12:00, 1:45 – 2:45
and by arrangement any weekday
Accommodations: If you have a documented disability requiring academic adjustments for this class,
please contact the Office of Disability Services (303.458.4941, [email protected]). The Disability
Office will review your documentation with you and help determine appropriate, reasonable
accommodations. Make an appointment with the office early in the semester and be sure to meet with me
before any relevant course requirements take effect. Accommodations are not provided retroactively and
adequate lead-time is required.
Note: Most of the feature films are in Spanish (one is in Portuguese) with English subtitles. Several of
the documentaries also have substantial portions in Spanish with English subtitles. If you have difficulty
viewing films with subtitles, this course may not be right for you. The feature films have been chosen for
their critical acclaim and artistic value as well as their attention to social and ethical issues.
Also Note: My desire to offer this course is based on my personal enthusiasm for the topic and my
dedication to social justice for the people of Latin America.
Course Description
Latin American politics and social conditions are explored through a critical examination of
selected feature films and documentaries. The course concentrates on events and conditions
during the last half of the 20th century, continuing into the 21st century. Some of the films
address the historical roots of contemporary circumstances. The role played by the United States
in the hemisphere is also examined.
There are no required textbooks for this course. The “texts” are the movies shown in class.
The web site for this course has links to recommended articles and other sources for the films
and social issues at the heart of the course. It also has links to extensive summaries of the feature
films and some of the documentaries. This will enable you to watch the films without elaborate
note-taking. Simply make a note of the parts of the films to which you want to refer, then
consult the film summaries for more complete descriptions.
In addition to the attendance policy presented below, I expect that students will display an
interest in Latin America and U.S. policy in the region. I hope that students will engage the
issues (which are not always peculiar to Latin America or the U.S.) and enthusiastically engage
in class discussions. If speaking up is not something you like to do, at least listen attentively.
I expect that the research and writing assignments will require a reasonably good university-level
student to devote an average of five (5) hours of work per week in addition to class time to the
Since the basic material for the course is provided in the films shown in class, attendance is
required at every session. If an absence is necessary for any reason, you will be expected to view
the film on your own time. Documentaries, guest lectures and class discussions providing
background on the films, conditions in the countries, and issues raised in the films, are just as
important as the films. These lectures and discussions are more difficult to compensate for,
should you miss them. Nevertheless, “film response papers” (see “Writing Assignments,” page
3) will be graded on the assumption that you were present for the relevant discussions and
Two unexcused absences are allowed. Additional unexcused absences will result in a lowered
final grade. Under ordinary circumstances, absence for any part of a class period constitutes
absence for the entire class period. Excused absences will be very difficult to obtain. For
example, since this class meets only twice a week, only two excused absence will be given for
university-sponsored events. In other words, if you anticipate participation in sports or other
university-sponsored activities that would require you to miss more than four classes, do not take
this course.
Movie Response Papers
For four of the feature films, students will write a response paper containing the following
1) An analysis of the film’s discussion of social issues, and
2) Response to at least four published film reviews, articles of film criticism, or other
articles pertaining to the film or the issue(s) it raises. In most cases, two or more film
reviews are easily available. Most of the feature films have been extensively written about.
These papers must be at least 5 pages long. In most cases it will take more than five pages to
accomplish the requirements of the paper.
Due dates for the response papers are scheduled in the COURSE OUTLINE (next page). The
due dates fall on the Friday of the week after the film has been shown in class. If you miss a due
date for a paper, simply do the next one. There are seven feature films. I will use your best four
response papers to determine your grade.
The response papers should be regarded as formal writing assignments. They should conform to
high standards of grammar, style, spelling, and punctuation and be well organized and clear.
Appropriate citations and references should be given for all quotations and for all ideas you have
gotten from any source. You should write your own text, using quotations sparingly. See the
statement about plagiarism in this syllabus and consult the Writing Center if you are unsure
about how to avoid plagiarism. Also consult the Writing Center for advice about how to cite and
list references appropriately. You should expect to write more than one draft of each paper.
The film response papers should be addressed to the same hypothetical audience as the research
paper and oral report: thoughtful but mostly uninformed people who are likely to care about the
social issues and the movie itself. In other words, you should not address the papers specifically
to me. You should tell enough of the story to indicate the film’s setting, identify major
characters, and reveal significant bits of the action, but you should not write a synopsis. The
purpose is to discuss the issue(s) the film raises and to evaluate how effectively it discusses the
issue(s). You should examine the filmmaker’s ideological assumptions, provide background on
the social conditions or events depicted (using class discussions and lectures, documentaries
shown in class, or other sources), and in other ways help prospective viewers make sense of and
evaluate the film’s message. Your papers will be evaluated on the extent to which you clearly
and comprehensively discuss the films’ central messages.
Part of this process involves comparing your understanding and evaluation of a film with those
of others. Some film reviewers and critics are more concerned with film techniques, acting
performances, etc., than with social messages. Such reviews and criticisms can still be used as
points of comparison with other perspectives on a film, but you should look for reviews and
critical essays that address the social issues or moral commentary of the film to which you are
responding. Film criticisms are generally more elaborate and analytical than film reviews and
are therefore more provocative sources for comparison and insight.
Papers are due in my mailbox in Loyola 24 on Thursdays at 2:30.
There is a link to guidelines for writing response papers on the web page for this course, which can be
found at
January 17
Jan. 22-24
Jan. 29-31
“Like Water for Chocolate”
Discussion, documentary
Mexico and Central America
Response Paper due Thursday, Feb. 1
February 5-7
Feb. 12-14
El Salvador
Discussion, documentary
Central America
Response Paper due Thursday, Feb. 15
Feb. 19-21
Feb. 26-28
“Strawberry and Chocolate”
Discussion, documentary
Response Paper due Thursday, March 1
March 3-11
Spring Break—Have a nice time!
March 12-14
“Four Days in September”
Discussion, documentary
Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia
Response Paper due Thursday, March 22
March 26-28
April 2
“The Mission”
Paraguay, Bolivia
Response Paper due Thursday, April 5
April 4-9
April 11-16
“The Official Story”
Discussion, documentary
Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia
Response Paper due Thursday, April 19
April 18-23
Response Paper due Thursday, April 26
1. This schedule is necessarily tentative because of the possibility of snowstorms, illness,
equipment failure, and other disruptions during the semester. It will be revised if
2. At least one film response paper must be submitted by mid-term. In other words, you
must write a response to “Like Water for Chocolate,” “Salvador,” or “Strawberry and
Chocolate.” You can, of course, write responses to all three.
3. Please note due dates carefully.
The following criteria apply to all final versions of the film response papers, the Research
Portfolio summaries, and the final draft of the Summary Papers.
“A” work responds fully to the assignment and is distinguished by clear and effective use of
language. It is thorough, without extraneous material or digressions. There is a clear line of
argument; it is internally consistent. Definitions are provided for terms that might otherwise be
misunderstood, and terms are used consistently throughout the paper. Appropriate examples are
provided. The paper is well written: conventions of spelling, word usage, grammar, punctuation,
and style are observed, and references are indicated and listed in a standard format (MLA or
APA). An “A” paper shows both a high level of comprehension and a significant attempt to
engage the issues.
“B” work reflects a fairly good understanding of the assignment. It is organized and clear,
largely free from serious errors in mechanics. Such work contains evidence of a serious attempt
to understand and organize information in an orderly fashion. The writer’s intentions are
reasonably clear. In other words, “B” work is much like “A” work, but is less consistent in
meeting the requirements.
“C” work is inconsistent in responding to the assignment and in expressing the writer’s
intentions. The paper provides details, examples, substantiation for claims, etc., but does not
reveal clear comprehension of the topic or a concerted effort to grapple with issues. The focus of
the paper appears to address the question, but the presentation of relevant material is disjointed,
or evidence is misapplied, or inaccurate evidence is provided. The paper is not thorough, well
organized, or internally consistent, or it may not be particularly careful about grammar, spelling,
style, etc.
“D” work shows difficulty in addressing the assignment. The writer’s intention is not clear.
There are logical or evidential errors in the argument. The topic is dealt with in a merely
perfunctory way. The paper lacks adequate substantiation. Digressions overtake the central
issues. Grammar, spelling, punctuation, word usage, and/or citations are poor.
“F” work is largely unresponsive to the assignment. It lacks focus or any discernible line or
argument. Details, examples, or other sorts of evidence are absent or misapplied. The paper
utterly fails to say anything that suggests comprehension of the topic. Organization, grammar,
spelling, etc. are very poor. The work has virtually nothing to commend it or has not been done
at all.
These grading criteria are based on guidelines developed by professors Alice Reich and Eleanor
Swanson. They are basically the same as the criteria used in CCS 400, “The Second World
War,” taught by professors Brockway, Clayton and Guyer, Fall Semester, 1995, and Spring,
Although students are encouraged to seek out sources of information and analysis, and to
cooperate with each other in preparing for class and doing research, certain basic standards must
be adhered to in the process. The most serious violation of academic ethical standards is
plagiarism, “the appropriation or imitation of the language, ideas, and thoughts of another
[person], and representation of them as one’s original work” (Random House Dictionary of the
English Language, 1983). In other words, plagiarism is the theft of another’s intellectual or
academic work and its use in place of one’s own, whether the work has been published or not.
This includes what other students have written for previous versions of this course or for any
other course. Plagiarism is also fraud, since it is an attempt to trick the teacher and the
institution into awarding grades, credits and degrees that have not been earned.
Sanctions will be imposed against anyone who plagiarizes from any written work, published
or not. The severity of sanctions will vary with the extent of the plagiarism. A student who
purchases a paper, has someone else write the paper, or reproduces a paper from a printed source
or from the Internet will be given an “F” for that assignment with no opportunity to make up the
work. A student who paraphrases a few lines from a source or fails to provide acknowledgement
for a source will be graded down, usually to a “D” unless the infractions occur repeatedly within
a particular paper, in which case the grade will be lowered to an “F”. Plagiarism of any degree
in two assignments will result in an “F” for the course.
If, during the semester, you are accused of plagiarism and you believe the charge is unfair or
the sanction too severe, you may appeal to the Dean of Regis College. See the section,
“Academic Dishonesty Policy,” in the College Bulletin for the proper procedure.
Nothing in this policy is meant to discourage appropriate teamwork, such as sharing class
and reading notes, letting each other know how and where to find film reviews, discussion of the
films and issues, etc. You may even quote each other—if you acknowledge whose ideas and/or
words you use. But each person must write her/his own papers. If there is considerable
similarity in organization and language between two or more response papers submitted by
different students, I will regard the similarity as evidence of plagiarism.
Ideas and wording gained from my class lectures and from class discussions, whether from
another student or me, are in the public domain and, therefore, may be used without attribution,
although accurate quotation and attribution are appreciated. Class lectures by invited guests are
not in the public domain and must be cited.
The Writing Center is a free resource for all Regis College undergraduates. At the Writing
Center, a trained undergraduate writing consultant will work individually with you on anything
you are writing, at any point in your writing process, from brainstorming to organizing to
polishing. The Writing Center can help you avoid plagiarism as well as give helpful advice on
your writing projects. Appointments are recommended. The Writing Center is in Loyola Room
1. Call 303.458.4039.
The purpose of the Junior Seminar is to cultivate an international perspective on fundamental
questions about peace and security in the global community. In keeping with our Jesuit mission,
the Junior Seminar builds on the Sophomore Seminar’s study of diversity in the United States to
further our students’ understanding of the systems of power and privilege that determine
relationships and interactions among the world’s diverse cultures. This seminar works to develop
the skills of research, analysis, argument, and synthesis that are essential to conducting a
sophisticated and critical examination of contemporary challenges to peace, security, and justice
in international society. Further, the Junior Seminar emphasizes interdisciplinary teaching and
Thematic Center
Students examine conflict and choice about issues that affect peoples’ lives and wellness
throughout the world. Issue areas that are appropriate topics for analysis in the Junior Seminar
include: politics of gender; human rights; social and economic justice; ethnicity and race;
nationalism; international violence and terrorism; international organization; globalization; war
and peace; human behavior and genocide; popular culture; global climatic change; technology
transfer and modernization; regionalism; world health; revolution and resistance.
This examination is to be conducted using methods of analysis that explicitly integrate different
disciplinary perspectives.
The Junior Seminar seeks to expand knowledge of the various ways Americans in the United
States identify themselves in relationship to peoples in other countries. The seminar also
encourages students to see world events and conditions from the point of view of people who are
not citizens of the United States. The intellectual goals of the Junior Seminar are to enable
students to better assess the behavior and policies of the United States in the evolving
international order and to achieve a more inclusive frame of reference for their reflections on the
question, “How ought we to live?”
Guiding Questions
*What is the student’s role in this course?
*What are the opportunities for students to integrate personal and academic experience (e.g.,
their major fields of study)?
*How will the experience of this seminar help in answering the question of how one ought to
live as an active and responsible global citizen?
*How will the experience of this seminar encourage the development of an international
perspective as a framework for viewing contemporary international problems?
*What pedagogic strategies are best suited to developing the student’s ability to research and
write either a major academic paper or a series of analytical essays?
*What understandings do Regis students need to acquire to deepen their respect for the value of
Selected Examples of Junior Seminars
World War Two and the Human Experience of War
Voices in International Diversity: Twentieth-Century Latin American Literature
Global Peace and Justice
International Terrorism
Contemporary Africa: Endurance and Transformation
The United States and the Middle East
Living American, Living Italian (for students participating in the Italy Study Abroad Program)
The Legacy of Communism in Contemporary Russia
Latin America in Film
Communication Goals of the Junior Seminar
In all sections of the Junior Seminar, the student works closely with the course faculty and the
University librarians to conduct advanced research in scholarly sources for the purpose of
writing either a major length seminar paper or a series of shorter analytical essays. Students
present their research findings to the Regis community in a formal reading.
Suggestions for Achieving Thematic and Communication Goals
*Develop coursework that addresses international conflict and cooperation from
multidisciplinary perspectives.
*Develop coursework that examines the cultures of non-US national and/or ethnic groups.
*Develop coursework that draws explicitly on the disciplines of comparative politics and
international relations.
*Develop coursework that addresses the dynamics of global change over time from a crosscultural perspective.
*Encourage students to explore study abroad options.
*Design research projects that require students to incorporate primary as well as secondary
sources, including materials from electronic data bases.
*Incorporate library instruction with library faculty as a required component of the research
*Incorporate formal and public oral presentations of research findings as a required component
of each Junior Seminar course.
*Develop coursework in world history as a basis for understanding the construction of national
and regional identities.
Faculty Development and Course Assessment
*Junior Seminar instructors will meet as a team prior to the beginning of the semester in which
they offer the sections of the seminar to discuss syllabi, strategies for engaging students in the
research writing process, and arrangements for public presentations of research findings.
*The Junior Seminar faculty will meet individually with the library faculty prior to the beginning
of the semester to discuss how library instruction will be incorporated into the course.
*Each Junior Seminar will be evaluated by students.