Discovery and Conquest

We 3:00PM - 6:00PM / 136 Cathedral of Learning /  CRN 29340

This course examines the different narratives, epistemologies, and politics prevalent during the emergence of Europe as center of the modern world—what is often called, the period of discovery and conquest. During this process were laid out Latin American societies and cultures, including many of the contradictions that characterize them today. After going over some introductory theoretical readings, the course examines three sets of textual corpuses. First, the evolution of Spanish texts as their writers faced the challenges of narrating discovery, cultural contact, conquest, and colonization. We will examine the tropes of the master imperial narrative as well as its moments of hesitation and open critique. Second, the emergence of a new mestizo consciousness that expressed itself in the work of indigenous intellectuals. We will see how their texts contested Spanish claims of mastery, at times strategically appropriating epistemological certainties of the master narrative, at time using elements of Spaniards critical of Spanish colonialism, and at times deploying alternative (native) epistemologies. Third, the context within which Spaniards and Amerindians produced their contesting texts: the slow emergence of England as a competing imperial power. In particular, we will study the way in which early English colonial narratives struggled to make Englishmen different from, and superior to, Spaniards. Although the course focuses on the colonial period, much of what we’ll be discussing has its contemporary echoes in Latin America, and establishing past/present connections is part of its goal. Class discussion and written assignments can be in either English or Spanish, but oral and written
comprehension of both languages is indispensable.

Number of Credits


Gonzalo Lamana

Course Term


Course Category

Category C: Cultural Antagonisms and Cultural Crises

Course Year