Spanish 280: The Spanish Colonies: Improper Laboratories of Modernity

Instructor: Professor Ivonne Del Valle

In this course we will read Spanish texts (written by Spaniards or under the direction of Spaniards) dealing with problems arising in the colonies in the 16th century around several related issues: what constituted just war and a just enemy, when was violence excessive, how to turn enormous populations speaking multiple languages into good Christian subjects and (especially)into good laborers, how to write about a nature that seemed to contradict current scientific ideas? Though all of these issues necessitated rapid and ad hoc responses, they also elicited theoretical contributions that were influential in their time (Francis Bacon reading José de Acosta, and Hugo Grotius reading Francisco de Vitoria, for example) and that even when unacknowledged, at least directly, continue to inform the production of theories explaining power, technology, and religion (Foucault, Bataille, for example). This course aims at bridging the colonies and future theoretical understanding in these areas.

  • Elective Requirement: This course fulfills the elective requirement for the DE in REMS.