In this course, we will study the narratives of the spiritual and military conquest of Mexico and Peru. These texts express a variety of perspectives coming from the conquistadors, missionaries, mestizos and Amerindians. The Spanish authors wrote reports (cartas de relación), chronicles and polemic essays to either justify, question or support the conquest. They attempted to conquer the natives through missionary theater, sermons and through visual arts. The mestizos and Amerindians, in turn, redefined the conquest and exalted their pre-Columbian culture by employing a combination of European literary genres and their own artistic traditions. We will examine the discursive conflicts that emerge from these two conquests paying special attention to the production of knowledge, the authority of the author and the concept of identity. The analysis of these texts as well as the reading of key secondary sources will help us understand the field of colonial literature, its historic transformations and the theories that support it.
In the first half of the course we will read several texts about the conquest of Mexico beginning with Spanish and native perspectives about the military conquest. We will continue learning about the debate of the just war, and we will end this part analyzing the texts of the spiritual conquest expressed in the missionary theater. In the second half of the course we will compare portions of chronicles about the conquest of Peru. We will focus on how these authors (three Spanish, one mestizo and two Amerindians) construct their own identities, represent the encounter at Cajamarca, the origin of the Andean civilizations and the spiritual conquests through the catholic saints.
Tentative list of readings