Short Essay Titles
Please select titles for your 2,000-word essays from the following list.
You are welcome to write on a different topic, but you must first clear the title with your seminar tutor.
Please note that this is not a list of titles for the 3,000-word essay. Designing your own topic is part of the work of writing the essay. You must however discuss your proposed long essay, including its title, with one of the module tutors, who will be able to advise you on how to approach it. Specifically, you need to get the title approved by one of the module tutors before you embark on research for the essay.
Titles Term 1
- Why were the Aztec and/or Inca Empires simultaneously so successful and so vulnerable to conquest by Europeans?
- "Fortune, rather than greater statecraft or vision." Discuss with reference to Cortes's conquest of the Mexicans and/or Pizarro's defeat of the Incas.
- Should the Spanish arrival in the Americas be described as a "conquest"?
- How did the "Old" and "New" Worlds change after 1492?
- Assess the role of the Church in the colonisation of the Americas.
- What role did race play in the making of a colonial order in the Americas?
- "Spain protected Indians so as better to exploit them." Discuss.
- How successful were the inhabitants of Spanish America (Indian, African and/or Creole) in manipulating the Spanish legal system for their own benefit?
- How did Spain and Portugal maintain control of their colonial possessions and what differences/ similarities emerge between the two?
- "Creole societies in colonial Spanish America were virtually independent from Spain." Discuss.
- How and why did Portuguese patterns of colonisation differ from those of the Spanish?
- "The sugar mill shaped colonial Brazil." Discuss with reference to society, politics, and economics.
- Assess the degree and significance of resistance and social mobility for enslaved people in colonial Latin America.
- "The Iberian Enlightenment and the Bourbon/Braganza 'Revolution in Government' created the basis for nation states in Spanish America and/or Brazil." Discuss.
- How were ordinary people (Indians, the Castas, slaves, etc.) involved in the Spanish American revolutions of Independence?
- "Reactions to events in the Peninsula rather than revolutions of national liberation." Discuss this view of the independence movements in Spanish America and/or Brazil.
- Civil wars or revolutions: which better describes the movements for independence in mainland Latin America?
- To what extent, and why, has the Brazilian independence process been seen as relatively "peaceful"?
- How did Creoles attempt to build national sentiment after Independence?
- Why were Creoles so intolerant of political opposition?
- To what extent were caudillos popular and legitimate rulers? Answer with reference to one or more post-independence political leaders.
- How significant was the role of slavery in building Brazil's Second Empire from 1822 to the mid-1860s?
Titles Term 2
- Why were Brazil and/or Cuba so much slower than the rest of Latin America in abolishing slavery?
- Why was slavery abolished in Brazil and/ or Cuba?
- "By the beginning of the twentieth century, economic development in Latin America had only benefited foreign investors". Discuss.
- Does 'Order and Progress' adequately describe Brazil's Old Republic and/or Porfirian Mexico?
- "Late nineteenth and early tweentieth-century ideas of 'modernisation' were incompatible with Latin American societies." Discuss.
- How successful was the Mexican Revolution in integrating Indians into the Mexican nation?
- "Popular, democratic and nationalist". Is this a fair assessment of the Mexican Revolution? Why or why not?
- Was Lazaro Cardenas a revolutionary or a populist leader?
- "The popularity of leaders such as Getulio Vargas or Juan Peron is best explained by their use of propaganda and the personal images they cultivated". Discuss.
- What had 'the masses' gained from populist governments in Latin America by the 1950s?
- "Peron was a more successful ruler than Vargas because of Eva Peron." Discuss.
- What was 'popular' in populism?
Assess the impact of the United States on Cuba’s revolutionary tradition.
- "Nationalism is more important to the understanding of the Cuban Revolution than Socialism." Discuss.
Why were popular expectations in Chile so high in 1970 and why by September 1973 had they been dashed ?
Was Pinochet's dictatorship a typical example of right wing reactions to socialist government in Cold-War Latin America?