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Hidden Histories: Untold Stories

Margo Chavez-Charles, margocc2126@yahoo.com

COURSE DESCRIPTION

If the United States is “the most powerful nation in history” such dominance confers tremendous responsibility. Defining that responsibility and determining the use of
that power is a task that the American people have delegated to policy makers and politicians, but as we enter into a time when our country is making crucial global decisions, should we as citizens slip into complacency? As members of a democracy, our responsibilities should include participation and awareness. We need to know who we are as a nation. And so we need to know who we have been. In this course we will look at some seminal events in modern American history that formed us as a nation, events such as our 20th century wars and social movements. We will review the “official story,” but also look at what has been left out of the story that we tell about ourselves. Since literature is a powerful tool that draws us into events and helps us to learn about history, we will use some fiction as an entrance into certain periods of history. We will use contemporary non-fiction as well, including excerpts from a classic of “alternative” history, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. This is an interdisciplinary class using fiction, non-fiction, poetry, music and film to approach our history and its hidden stories. Students will investigate the events that have defined us and continue to define us, carrying on a debate that will help us to assume our responsibilities as informed citizens.

READINGS AND TEXTS

Required Readings:

  • Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States and The People Speak: American Voices, Some Famous, Some Little Known 
  • Lillian Hellman, Scoundrel Time 
  • Tim O’Brian, The Things They Carried
  •  Stephen Kinzer, Overthrow 
  • Aguilera and Fredes, Chile: The Other September 11th 
  • Reading packet of selected articles and essays to be purchased in Honors Office

 

FILMS AND OTHER COURSE MATERIALS

Viewing of excerpts from feature films, documentaries, and You Tube are a regular part of the class work.

 

COURSE FEE (if applicable) & BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF HOW FEES WILL BE USED

Course Fee of $10. Guest speakers are invited and several of them live in Santa Fe. The course fee is used to offer an honorarium that will at least cover their gas expenses.

 

STUDENT REQUIREMENTS

Regular attendance; active participation in class discussions; response papers; one longer essay of 5 pages; final research paper; participation in group led class and final presentation on research

 

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR

Margo Chávez-Charles holds a B.A. in English from the University of New Mexico, and M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language and Teaching French from the School for International Training in Vermont, and an M.A. in Liberal Education from St. John’s College. Her special interests include literature, interdisciplinary education, intercultural communication, social justice, and the history of ideas. She also regularly works for the Conexiones program in Spain and Latin America.