This may seem like a strange think to dream about, but one professional goal I have always had is to teach a freshman seminar course. I’ve always thought about what it would be like to teach an honors seminar or something to that effect. Ideally, this course would not necessarily be a history course, but would contain content in my research area of history. In other words, the readings for the course could combine all of my intellectual influences – history, anthropology, literature, social theory, etc. In terms of an assignment for such a course that uses digital tools, I would, of course, have the option for my students to type a paper on a computer. Jokes aside, here is a sample assignment I would give to my students.
Choose one of these three historical moments and construct a timeline – the Cuban Revolution, the Chilean Path to Socialism, or the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua. Your timeline should stretch to at least 50 years before the historical moment and continue to the present. In the time before, select at least five major causal factors and at least five secondary factors or events that led to this historical moment. In the time after your chosen event, show what the legacies of this event were. Be creative – you can examine oral histories, political systems, and whole economic systems for this part of the assignment. Provide at least five legacies of said event. In addition, type a 3-4 page paper giving brief descriptions of why you put different events on your timeline. There should be a minimum of 15 items on your timeline, and each should have at least a paragraph attached analyzing what happened. You should draw on at least 5 primary source documents and 5 secondary source documents. Students who receive the highest grade on this assignment will include photographs, links or screenshots to crucial documents, short video clips, and other expressions of creativity.
Obviously, this assignment will take a lot of elaboration in class about what exactly I am looking for. Nevertheless, I feel like this gives students a chance to be creative, and we will have already covered many of the potential sources in class. It might be wise to include events that happened outside of Latin America come to think of it, but given the significant role of the United States in all three of the events I mentioned finding primary sources in English should not be too much of an issue.