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Charles R. Hale, Director SRH 1.310, 2300 Red River Street D0800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512.471.5551

Fall 2003


Unique Days Time Location Instructor
37490 MWF
2:00 PM-3:00 PM
PAR 304

Course Description

They all claim to be telling the truth. Often, what each says contradicts the others. Who is to be believed? Why do they say what they do? In the way they do? This course examines the crucial moment in the forging of Spanish-American civilization, and many of its persistent dilemmas, through the examination of an exuberant and uniquely original body of narrative texts. We will try to answer some key questions about the often violent and always problematic encounter between European and indigenous civilizations through reading narratives written by both the conquerors and the conquered. Readings will include selections from Mayan and Aztec history and mythology, the first published description of the New World (Columbus’s "Carta de descubrimiento"), Cortés’s first-hand account of the conquest of Mexico ("Segunda carta de relación"), selections from Las Casas’s Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias and Bernal Díaz’s Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España, as well as a number of indigenous representations (both pictographic and written) of the conquest and destruction of Tenochtitlan. We will round out the representation of the conquest of Mexico with Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca’s Naufragios. Finally, in contrast with these essentially historiographic (although perhaps highly fictionalized) depictions of the conquest, we will read the first explicitly "literary" (and most highly regarded of its type) representation of the conquest of the New World--Alonso de Ercilla’s La Araucana.


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