I teach at the undergraduate and graduate levels in History at Lakehead University. For more information about the Department of History at Lakehead University  click here.

Graduate Students

Prospective graduate students should contact me directly to obtain information about my interests at the graduate level. My research interests are broad and international in focus. I expect students to be able to work in more than one language and to be open to inter-disciplinary approaches to History. For more information about the graduate program in History click here

Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate instruction is regulated by the university and students should consult the Lakehead University Calendar for information about programs of study.

The following is a list of courses I teach at the undergraduate level. Students are advised that these courses are subject to prerequisites and that they may not be offered in a given year. Please consult the Lakehead University Course Timetable to find out which of the following courses are being offered in the current academic year.


Brief Course  Descriptions

History 2513
Colonial Latin America and the Caribbean
Designed to give students a general knowledge of the history of Latin America and the Caribbean from the arrival of Columbus to the early 19th century struggles for independence from Spain.

History 2515
Modern Latin America and the Caribbean
Designed to give students a general knowledge of Latin American and Caribbean History during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

History 3501
20th Century Central America and the Caribbean
A course designed to give students a general understanding of the main events in the evolution of Central American and Caribbean history since 1900. The focus is on the issues of gender, class, race and ethnicity within the context of the social, political and economic development of the region during the twentieth century.

History 3710
International Development in Historical Perspective
Examines the key institutions, themes, concepts, and theories that define the twentieth-century history of international development. The course focuses on economic, social, political, and environmental aspects of development in the "Third World."

History 4502
Themes in Modern Latin American History
Examines modern Latin American history, society and culture from an interdisciplinary perspective. Students are offered a multi-faceted understanding of the human condition in Latin America. The course will address four themes in particular: the wounds and legacies of history; the elusive quest for economic "development", politics, revolution and counter-revolution; and the dynamics of culture and cultural change.

History 4703
Tensions of Empire
A seminar course offering an historical perspective of the origins of the problems of constructing states, societies and economies in colonial and post-colonial regions of the world from the 16th to the 20th century. The emphasis is on the nature of imperial activity since the 1500s and the shifting relationships between Western powers and what became known as the "developing world". It is an exploration of the legacy of colonialism, colonization, and neo-colonialism.

Sample Assignments

See the sample book reviewsample comparative book review, and sample research paper for exemplification of the writing requirements for courses offered by Dr. Harpelle. Although expectations vary with the level of sophistication expected of students in different years of the program, the form, structure and compositional coherence, (i.e. the criteria to be applied in the marking of essays), is the same in all assignments of a particular nature. Details of the requirements for term work can be found by following the links listed above to the outlines for specific courses.

Students interested in the literature on selected topics in World History may wish to visit the bibliography provided with this website

Writing a Critical Book Review

A critical review is an evaluation of a book's strengths, weaknesses and validity. It is used to inform readers of a book's value through explanation, interpretation and analysis. The reviewer must present information that will allow the reader to make a value judgement about the book. Therefore, a critical review is not a book report. It does not offer a mere summary of the contents of the monograph.

Reviews of a single book must have an introductory section to establish a focal point for discussion. The introduction establishes a direction for the rest of the review. The second part characterizes the author's treatment of the subject, and the final section brings the paper to a conclusion. A conclusion must deal with the essence of the author's arguments and must follow from the direction established in the introduction. Students are free to agree with the author on every point, disagree with the author on every point, or any combination of the two. The important thing is that students offer insights into what contribution they believe the book makes to the literature on the subject and who, if anyone, might benefit from reading it. (See a sample review of one book)

Reviews of two or more books contain the same elements as reviews of one book, but the emphasis is on comparison. Therefore, the introductory section establishes a focal point of comparison between the two books. The second part characterizes each author's treatment of the "issue." The final section brings the paper to a conclusion by way of synthesis or repudiation. In other words, the conclusion offers a suggestion of an interpretive orientation consisting of elements of both perspectives under review or an argument against one or both authors. Once again, Students are free to agree or disagree with the authors on significant points. The important thing is that students offer insights into what contribution they believe the books make to the literature on the subject and who, if anyone, might benefit from reading them (See a sample review of two books)

Guidelines (Students should refer to the course outline for the current year to know which book is which).

  • The first assignment is a critical review of book number one.
  • The second assignment is a critical review of book number two.
  • The third assignment is a critical comparative review of book number one and book number three.
  • The fourth assignment is a critical comparative review of book number two and book number four.
  • The first two review essays, should be six pages in length and the last two should be eight pages long.
  • The first book review is worth 10%, the second is worth 15%, the third is worth 20%, and fourth is worth 25% of the final mark.
  • Reviews should begin with a full bibliographic citation (author, title, publisher and date of publication).
  • The books will be discussed in class and students are expected to participate in all of the discussions.
  • Students are advised that late assignments will be assessed a penalty of one percent of the final mark per day for each day that elapses between the due date and the actual date of submission.
  • Students are advised that they are responsible for knowing what plagiarism is and for avoiding it.

Questions to be Considered while reading the assigned book

  • Is there any bibliographic information about the author given? What are the author's qualifications and authority?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Define the general problem area. What does the author intend to discuss? Why?
  • Does the author build on past research?
  • What is the objective or purpose of the research? Is it clearly stated?
  • Does the author define any terms? Are the definitions specific and useful?
  • Are references given? Are the references recent, important?
  • What are the author's major findings and conclusions? Have these been supported by the author's analysis, arguments, findings or evidence? Has the author overlooked anything?
  • Does the author accomplish his or her objective? Does the author do what he or she has set out to do?
  • Does the author suggest areas for further research or discussion?

(Please note that these questions are meant for you to develop a critical understanding of the reading and are not meant as a guide to writing the review)