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SPAN7203 - Early Colonial History of Latin America, 1492 – 1700

Value: 0.5 course units
Dr Alexander Samson
Teaching structure:
one 3000 word essay (40%); and one unseen two-hour written examination (60%).

Module Description:

This module provides an introduction to the history of the age of exploration and empire through a series of key texts associated with the early colonial history of Spanish America, from the first account account to reach Europe of the Americas, Columbus’ Letter to Santangel to the first feminist in the New World, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz’s defence of herself as a writer and Mexican subject in the Respuesta a Sor Filotea. It evaluates the historiographical and theoretical debates surrounding the ‘discovery’, the conquistadores and colonial period, examining notions from postcolonial theory and the subaltern to the cartographic and imperial imagination.

Preparatory Reading and Set Texts:

  • Christopher Columbus, ‘Carta a Santangel’ in Barry Ife (ed. and trans.), Letters from America: Columbus' First Accounts of the 1492 Voyage (London: KCL, 1992), pp. 45 - 65.
  • Hernán Cortes, Cartas de Relación, ed. Angel Delgado Gómez (Barcelona: Castalia, 1993)
  • Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Naufragios, ed. Juan Francisco Maura (Madrid: Cátera, 1989).
  • Alonso de Ercilla, La Araucana, ed. Isaías Lerner (Madrid: Cátedra, 1993).
  • Lope de Vega, Arauco domado por el excelentísimo Señor D. García Hurtado de Mendoza, in F. Ruiz Ramón (ed.), América en el teatro clásico español: estudios y textos (Pamplona: EUNSA, 1993), 75-140. Electronic version on the website.
  • Juana Inés de la Cruz, The answer: La respuesta, including a selection of poems, ed. and trans. by Electa Arenal and Amanda Powell (New York: Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 1994).