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One World or Many? Representing Distance, Time, and Place in Iberian Expansion

Information about course offerings for the current academic year can be found on the Latin American Studies section of the Stanford Bulletin Explore Degrees website. More detailed course descriptions including the times and locations can be found by searching on Explore Courses.

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The travelers, missionaries, and historians that reflected on Iberian overseas expansion during the early modern period often asked themselves a crucial question: was there only one world or many? Could the New World, unknown to the ancients, be entirely detached from the rest of human history? Many of these chroniclers continued to think that the world was divided into three parts: Europe, Asia, and Africa. In their descriptions of the Americas, they drew heavily on histories and travel reports pertaining to other epochs and locales, especially contemporary Asia and ancient Rome. Local authors and artists in the New World in this period used world history and news of distant conflicts to reflect on the immediacy of their historical experience. In this course, we will consider the ways in which historians, conquistadors, missionaries, and indigenous authors in New Spain (Mexico), Brazil, and Peru contemplated themselves in the looking glass of remote times and places: from Greco-Roman Antiquity to Lutheran Germany, from the Ottoman Mediterranean to the Apocalyptic End of Times. Students will reassess the importance of this archive to early modern studies writ large and challenge the scholarly tendency to frame the Iberian Peninsula as the center and the Americas as the periphery. Primary sources will include sixteenth and seventeenth-century chronicles, reports, poetry, theater, pictographic codices, feather mosaics, and maps. Reading knowledge of Spanish and a willingness to work with Portuguese required. Course to be taught by Nicole T. Hughes.

Course ID: 
219 593
Letter or Credit/No Credit
Course Tags Human: