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

Fall 2004


Unique Days Time Location Instructor
39115 MWF
10:00 AM-11:00 AM
BEN 1.104

Course Description

In the very first description of the New World written by a European, Columbus constructs his representation of what he took for the "Indies" upon the basis of a binary opposition between the marvelous and the monstrous. This bipolar vision of America has dominated much writing about Spanish America ever since, and noted writer Alejo Carpentier was to identify the early chronicles and relaciones of the colonial period as the foundational texts of what he was to postulate as the underlying principle of Latin American culture: the marvelous real (lo real maravilloso). In this course, we will explore selected, early representations of quests driven by desire (for fame, wealth, power, salvation, safety, liberation) that propel their protagonists through both geographical and discursive spaces constructed around the marvelous and the monstrous. Readings will begin with Carpentier¡¯s now-classic essay on the concept of the ¡°marvelous real,¡± and will go on to include major portions of the Popol Vuh (key pre-columbian representation of indigenous cosmology), Columbus's "Carta a Luis Sant?ngel" (the first published representation of the New World), brief selections from Gonzalo Fern?ndez de Oviedo's Historia general y natural de las Indias and Fray Gaspar de Carvajal¡¯s Relaci?n del nuevo descubrimiento del R?o Grande de las Amazonas, brief selections from Fray Bartolom? de las Casas's Brev?sima relaci?n de la destruici?n de las Indias, brief selections from L?pez de G?mara's Historia general de las Indias , major portions of Bernal D?az's Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva Espa?a, the complete text of Alvar N??ez Cabeza de Vaca's Naufragios, references to the Relaci?n de Gonzalo Guerrero (shipwrecked Spaniard who "went native" and struggled against the conquerors in Yucat?n), selections from Garcilaso de la Vega, el inca's La Florida, the In?s de Hinojosa episode from Juan Rodr?guez Freile's El carnero, selections from the Vida i sucesos de la monja alf?rez (first-person narrative of a fugitive nun, dressed as a man, who served as a soldier in colonial America), and the complete text of Carlos de Sig?enza y G?ngora's Infortunios de Alonso Ram?rez. The course will be conducted in Spanish. In conjunction with the primary readings, the class will read and discuss selected critical essays, representing a variety of points of view and approaches, to assist in developing class paper topics. These will include recent works of textual criticism by specialists such as Rolena Adorno, Sylvia Molloy, Walter Mignolo, Beatriz Pastor, and Margarita Zamora, and Jos? Rabasa, among others. Class discussion is an essential element of this class! The films Popul Vuh (by Patricia Amlin) and Cabeza de Vaca will supplement readings from the texts and the photocopied course reader.

Grading Policy

5-7 page critical essay 25% Mid-term exam 25% Final exam 40% Class participation 10%


Required: Bernal D?az del Castillo. Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva Espa?a. Ed. Joaqu?n Ram?rez Caba?as. M?xico: Porr?a, 1960. Alvar N??ez Cabeza de Vaca. Naufragios. Ed. Trinidad Barrera. Madrid: Alianza, 1989. Tedlock, Dennis, trans. Popol Vuh: The Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life. 2nd Ed. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. Photocopied course reader. (Available at Abel's Copies, 715 W. 23rd, Tower Court, Suite D, 472-5353).


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