SPAN 3211: Interpreting Imperial Spain, 1492-1800

3 Credits

The term “Siglo de Oro” has been used historically in Spanish to describe the epoch of Spain’s imperial expansion in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Beginning in 1492, the Catholic Monarchs, Isabel, and Fernando consolidated Spanish power over the other kingdoms in Iberia, expelled the Jews, and began the conquest of the so-called “New World.” The following years saw an influx and their kingdom became globally influential, eventually becoming a world empire. But, for whom was this a “Golden Age”? In this class we will explore the historical, political, and social trends that shaped what it meant to be “Spanish” and the territory thought of as “Spain.” The definition of “Spanish” was created in apposition to various Others—the various people and groups that were relegated to the lower echelons of the social hierarchy. Religion played an important role in the shaping of this identity. We will apply contemporary theories—such as those around forms of racism, classism, Othering—from the field of cultural studies to cultural and historical developments within the Spanish Golden Age. For example, being “Spanish” was based in the idea of “Cristianos viejos”/Old Christians (who had no trace of Muslim or Christian blood in their family lines). We will explore other peoples and groups in Spain/Iberia and their contributions to what would become the Spanish nation. Among the themes studied in class: —rhetoric of difference, including the limpieza de sangre or notions of blood purity —gender: what did it mean to be española? —the Spanish colonies in the Americas and the people who lived there —systems of power: Old Christians, nobility and conquerors —the institutionalization of “Spain” —the subversive concept of the Baroque: Miguel de Cervantes against the “State” prereq: A grade of C- or better in SPAN 3104W or SPAN 3104V or TLDO 3104W or ARGN 3104W or SPAN 3105W or SPAN 3105V or TLDO 3105W or SPAN 3107W or SPAN 3107V or TLDO 3107W

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