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Jill Robbins, Chair 150 W 21st Street, Stop B3700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4936

Lito Porto

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SPN F322K • Civilization Of Spanish Amer

88935 • Summer 2012
Meets MTWTHF 230pm-400pm PAR 301
(also listed as LAS F370S )
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To grab at a composite is to overlook the particulate. And yet, in order to deal with systems, histories, identities... even language as a semi-stable continuum, we must grab at composites. In our case, as we embark upon the study of a so-called Spanish American Civilization, we are certainly at risk of over-extension, as the contours and constituents of this space are—in spatial, temporal, and qualitative terms—quite vast. The designated space points to “established” cultures which are, in the strictest sense, well over 3200 years old, to more than 360 million living human beings who make their homes in 18 countries (and the “Estado Libre Asociado” of Puerto Rico) which spread across 8.6 million miles2 (22.3 million km2) and range from the wettest lands on Earth (the Chocó region of Pacific Coastal Colombia) to the driest (Atacama Desert in Chile), from the largest tropical rain forest on Earth (Amazon) to the glaciers of Patagonia. The people of this vast space represent hundreds of ethnic and linguistic groups; and though the ethnicities are too many and too diverse to mention, the major indigenous and African linguistic groups are Tupi-Guarani in south-central South America, Maya (Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Quiché, or Yucatec) throughout Central America, Aymara in Bolivia, Quechua in Peru, Nahuatl in Mexico, and Yoruba in Cuba.

      Even this most cursory depiction of the vastness of Spanish America already presents the complexity of our subject. Our positioning vis-à-vis this course, therefore, will actually be where we most often reside in consciousness: between narrative and specimen; that is, between a story that “makes sense” and the details which seem to be left out of the seemingly complete jig-saw puzzle, between a sense of describable identity and a slew of idiosyncratic traits.

      Why then, or how, can we speak of a Spanish American Civilization? Leaving aside the fact that we have probably engaged in the common practice of “othering” the unknown, there is also the fact that the region has undergone four distinct periods or processes: i) a time before European domination; ii) the period of conquest and colonization; iii) the period of national independence; and iv) a “modern” and, in a more complex sense, post-modern period. Though these categories may not look all that different from the periods and processes that occurred to the north, the particular ways that they were experienced in Spanish America certainly did differ. Also, the region differs markedly from the rest of the Americas by way of its predominantly Hispanic and Portuguese cultural heritage, its predominantly Catholic religious culture, and a judicial system based in Roman Law.

 

 

The lectures and discussions will be conducted entirely in Spanish. Very rarely, a particular topic or text may warrant a brief switching into English, but only rarely. On the other hand, you will note that a few readings are in English—these were either originally written in English, in a third language (i.e., Quiché or French), or are too long to include in Spanish. Students are responsible for completing the assigned readings before each class.

SPN 325K • Intro To Spn Am Lit Thru Mod

88475 • Summer 2010
Meets MTWTHF 230pm-400pm BEN 1.108
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