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"Narratives of Domination and Resistance in the Spanish-American Colonial Period"
The colonization of the indigenous people from the New World entailed their insertion by
the Spanish monarchy into a universal Catholic communitas and into European and
Transatlantic socio-economic and political circuits. A significant part of this colonialist
labor was carried out through writing. The course will examine textual productions in
which the Amerindian was narrated, contested and disputed in his/her pre-Hispanic past
and colonial “modernity” by Spanish, criollo, mestizo and indigenous writers. These
contestations were more than literary or rhetorical, for the debated proximities to or
distances from Christianity of the imagined Amerindian subject in these texts were destined
to influence the perceived legitimacy of his claims as well as her treatment by the Spanish
Crown and colonizers.
As the course moves from the early sixteenth-century onwards and mestizo and criollo
social actors emerged more forcefully in the political and cultural scenes, students will be
able to see how the debates about the Amerindian subject shifted. When Spanish power in
the New World consolidated but the Amerindians did not fully break away from their preHispanic past, Spanish and criollo clerics had to come to terms with the disturbing reality
that colonial Amerindians were—and would be for more time to come—shifting, inbetween Christian subjects. On their part the criollos, aspiring to have their patria chica
considered legitimate and autonomous kingdoms under the Spanish Crown, re-imagined
the indigenous pre-Hispanic past as the grand origin of their local histories and identities,
yet joined the Spaniards in marginalizing the colonial indigenous population. In their
struggle to promote their claims to social recognition, mestizo and indigenous writers
appropriated writing and colonial discourses of authority—especially Christianity—also to
reinvent indigenous antiquity as a precursor of colonial modernity and not as a difference
to be suppressed. But in contrast to the criollos, these mestizo and indigenous writers
would be more critical of Spanish colonial practices of political and ideological domination.
Finally, in the eighteenth century, European writers such as Corneille de Paw, Guillaume
Thomas Raynal and William Robertson challenged the credibility of two centuries of
Hispanic knowledges about the Amerindian pasts and their cultural and political
achievements. We will focus on a criollo reading of the so-called Mexica antiquity as
critique and resistance to the new colonialism of French and British enlightened rationality.
Shamans and Sorcerers in Latin American Literature
In this course we will explore the figure(s) of Mesoamerican shamans and sorcerers as
masters of hybridity and/or as depositaries of marginal, non-Christian epistemologies. The
shaman and the sorcerer were specialists who dealt directly with realms of the sacred.
With the onset of Spanish colonization, the shaman/sorcerer appeared in colonial textual
production as threatening, liminal subjects who showed competence in Western Christian
discourse but who also kept actuating pre-Hispanic spatial, temporal and supernatural
knowledges. As practitioners and/or repositaries of these knowledges, shamans and
sorcerers occasionally took on the role of open figures of resistance, but more often that of
disquieting border actors, moving in directions beyond the control of institutional
With an emphasis in Mesoamerica, the course will move chronologically from the colony to
the twentieth century. We will study contemporary anthropological, testimonial and
fictional constructions of modern Latin American and Latino shaman and sorcerer figures
whose disruptive and/or liberating cultural powers depended on their ability to produce
and move across non-Western times and spaces. The course will close with urban neoshaman Carlos Castaneda, positing him as one of the first successful cross-over Latino
authors. Castaneda’s acclaimed narratives deeply challenged the discipline of anthropology
in the United States and gave a blow to the dominant notion of scientific social truth of his
time with the hybrid pre-Hispanic knowledges of his teacher, sorcerer and shaman don Juan
Theater in the New World and the New World in Golden Age Theater
In this course we examine theater in Spain and Mexico during the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries from a myriad of perspectives. We will approach the different dramatic
productions of this period as complex discourses of cultural domination and resistance, as
ambivalent enactments of colonial power and desire, as displays of the malaises and
pleasures of nationalistic ideology, and as performances of the forging of an American,
creole subjectivity. While questioning the individual texts in their specificity as cultural
artifacts, we will also study them from the point of view of literary history.
Del otro lado del Atlántico: Barroco peninsular y Barroco de Indias
En este curso estudiaremos las prácticas estético-literarias del Barroco español y sus
implicaciones políticas y socio-culturales. Veremos cómo dichas prácticas son
transculturadas a las colonias americanas (con énfasis en México) como códigos de gran
prestigio, exclusividad y autoridad, pero también de disolución y fractura. Buscando
promover y exaltar una identidad criolla a veces, y en otras ocasiones representando el
desajuste y dislocación de la condición colonial, semejantes códigos son imitados,
apropiados, parodiados y/o hiperbolizados por los criollos, creando de este modo un
lenguaje cultural ambos fragmentado y poderoso como el del barroco peninsular, pero
aspirando a representar una diferencia americana. Examinaremos teorías sobre los
barrocos peninsulares y de Indias por críticos contemporáneos y estudiaremos textos en los
géneros de la poesía, la narrativa y la comedia.