POL 380: Politics of Latin America - Spring 2016

General Information

Professor Chad Rector Tuesdays and Fridays 11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
St. Joseph Hall, Room G105


I have fixed office hours on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10:20 to 10:50 a.m. and 1:50 to 2:30 p.m. (on each of those days that classes are scheduled). At those times please feel free to come by my office without an appointment. I also have rotating office hours at least 4 hours per week (usually much more); to meet me at one of those times you must make an appointment. To see the schedule and make an appointment use this calendar. (You must be logged in to gmail or Marymount email. Scroll to the right to see future weeks.) All meetings are in my office, Ireton G108.

There are three assigned books for the course:

Course Assignments and Grades

Course grades will be based on a weighted average of the following:
  • Exam #1. 10%. Identify and explain any 5 concepts, from a list of 10. List of terms. 45 minutes of class time. February 16.
  • Exam #2. 10%. Identify and explain any 5 concepts, from a list of 10. List of terms. 45 minutes of class time. April 12.  
  • Term paper. 70%. Term papers are at least 4000 words long (about 16 pages), and explore in depth a political issue involving Latin America. Components of the assignment are due in several steps, emailed to me. Assignments are due at midnight at the end of the specified day. See here for a lot more detail about the term paper assignment. 
    • Topic paragraph. 5%. February 21. 
    • Summaries of four scholarly articles. 5% each, total 20%. March 2, 7, 17, and 20.
    • Case study draft. 5%. April 7. 
    • Initial draft. 15%. April 14. 
    • Final draft. 20%. May 8.
    • Class presentation. 5%. As assigned, in late April. 
  • Peer reviews. 10%. Two reviews (5% each) of other student drafts, following an assigned format. As assigned, in mid April. You may write up to 2 additional high-quality reviews, for up to 3% in extra credit points each.

Extra credit:
  • Class participation. Students may earn up to 5% for sustained, constructive contributions to class discussions. 
  • DC event. 5% for a first event and 3% for a second. Attend an event in the DC area on the subject of Latin America and write a blog post summarizing your experience. Specific instructions about attending and reporting on events are here. Posts must be well-written to receive credit; I will send back poorly-written posts for revisions before they are accepted. You will receive 5 extra credit points for one event and post, and 3 points for a second. All blog posts submitted by the day of the final exam. (Blog posts are kept private by default, but we may make selected posts public by mutual agreement.)
  • Extra peer reviews. Students who turn in a complete draft on time may complete up to two additional peer reviews for up to 3% each. Email me within four days of turning in your draft to get an extra credit assignment. I will give specific due dates with each assignment, but in any case these must be completed no later than April 20.
  • Wikipedia edit. Properly edit a wikipedia article to include a sensible reference to a properly-cited scholarly article (one you used for one of your summaries) and email me a link to the log. See this tutorial or attend the class session of POL 250 in the library classroom on Wednesday March 16 starting at 10:15 a.m. Up to 4% for a well-formatted edit. This must be completed by April 20.   

Two additional mandatory course requirements do not count for any points:
  • Map test. A test of basic Latin American geography. Fill in the names of selected countries on a blank map. Spelling doesn't count. The test will be administered at the beginning of each class starting the second week. You may take the test as many times as you wish until you pass, up to once per class meeting including the second exam. Any student who fails to pass the test by the second exam will automatically fail the course. The answers to the map test are here.
  • Attendance. Any student who misses 7 or more class sessions will automatically fail the course.

Papers will be marked down one point for each day (or fraction of a day) late. Any assignment or paper that is turned in on time may be rewritten for partial credit, except for the draft and final paper. Students who miss an exam will have one chance to take a makeup and will be marked down unless they have a valid medical or university business excuse. Students will not be penalized for missing a class assignment for a recognized religious holiday. Exams will be written in class without books, notes, computers, phones, audio devices, or other aids.

I do not, in general, grant extensions on major assignments. If you think you have gotten an extension from me but you do not have something in writing from me that specifically says that, then you probably haven’t. Like, if you tell me in person that your paper is going to be late, and I say “okay” or I give you advice on how to complete it, that isn’t me giving you an extension – that’s me saying that I understand that your paper is going to be late. It is only an “extension” (a promise from me that you may turn in a paper late without being penalized) if I have said so, explicitly, in an email message.

There is no such thing as an "excused" absence. If you tell me that you are going to miss a class and I say "okay" or something polite like that, the absence will still count toward one of the 7. If you feel like you have a legitimate reason why you will miss 7 or more class sessions during the semester I suppose you could try talking it through with me. 

I may, at my discretion, check any written assignments for plagiarism at any time during or after the semester, using electronic or other means. Students found violating the Marymount principles of Academic Integrity will fail the course and be formally charged through the University’s Academic Integrity process. By enrolling in the course you acknowledge that you have reviewed the University’s standards of academic integrity.
Make an appointment with Professor Rector

Course Schedule and Readings

1. Introduction

January 12
Mexico (slides)

January 15
Argentina (slides)
Read: Smith, Introduction and Chapter 1

January 19
Research design
Read: Baglione, Chapter 1

January 22
Snow Day
Read: Smith, Chapter 2

2. Institutions

January 26
Snow Day
Read: Smith, Chapter 3

January 29
History (slides) and Military Coups (slides)
Read: Smith, Chapter 4

February 2
Presidentialism (slides)

February 5
Democratic stability (slides)
Read: Smith, Chapter 5

February 9
Elections (slides)

February 12
Proportionality (slides)
Read: Smith, Chapter 6

February 16
Exam #1 and paper topic discussion

3. Representation

February 19
Party strategies
Read: Smith, Chapter 7

Topic paragraph due February 21

February 23 - meet in library
Parties and ideology
Read: Díez, Part 1

February 26
Interlude: finding articles (sample)

March 1
Read: Díez, Part 2 (reference, reference)

Article Summary #1 due March 2

March 4
Exam #2 Gender and society and paper organization discussion

Article Summary #2 due March 7

Spring Break

4. Research papers

March 15
Read: Baglione, Chapters 3 and 4

Article Summary #3 due March 17

March 18

Article Summary #4 due March 20

March 22
Organization Demagogues (slides)
Read: Baglione, Chapters 5 through 8

Easter Break

5. Inclusion

March 29
Read: Smith, Chapter 8

April 1 
Economic equality
Read: Smith, Chapter 9

April 5
Political economy and Exam #2

Case study draft due April 7

5. Term papers

April 8
Organization workshop

April 12
Writing workshop and Exam #2

Initial draft due April 14

April 15
Draft review

April 19
Draft review

April 22

April 26

April 29

May 6, noon-2:30

Term paper due May 8