Course Code
CMLT 0020 / SPAN 0020 / PGSE 0020
Course Type
Subject Credit
Course Availability

The early modern Spanish and Portuguese literary traditions contain a wealth of epic poems inspired by the classical Greek and Latin epics of the likes of Homer, Virgil and Ovid and by recent historical events related to crusade, conquest, and empire building. There are also a number of Spanish and Portuguese plays by Gil Vicente, Miguel de Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Ricardo de Turia and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz that deal with the relationship between the Iberian Peninsula and the Spanish and Portuguese colonies in India, Africa, and the New World. Collectively, these works explore aspects of cultural exchange and conflict that arose from the encounters of conquistadors, pioneers and governors with other cultures, races and religions.  By choosing to study a selection of these texts, students will explore how early modern Spain and Portugal related to the peoples that they encountered, and they will discuss the multiple perspectives held on issues relating to crusade and conquest. The module aims to challenge some of the long-standing assumptions made about colonization and empire building and re-evaluates the texts through a postcolonial lens where appropriate.

Sample topics:

  • Race and Religion in Luís de Camões’s Os Lusíadas.
  • Confrontation between the Portuguese and Ottaman Empires in Jerónimo Corte-Real’s Segundo cerco de Diu.
  • Patriotism and Sympathy in Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga’s Araucana.
  • Portrayals of the Indigenous in Pedro de Oña’s Arauco domado.
  • The Exploits of Hernán Cortés in Gabriel Lasso de la Vega’s Mexicana.
  • Non-European Encounters in the Final Voyage of Sir Francis Drake in Lope de Vega’s La Dragontea.
  • European Quarrels in a New World Context in Lope de Vega’s Brazil restituído.
  • Medieval Religious Conflict in Gaspar García Oriolano’s Murgetana.
  • Allegory and Symbolism in Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz’s El divino Narciso.

A good number of the texts to be studied are available in English translations and, therefore, knowledge of Spanish and Portuguese is not a prerequisite for the course. However, if you do have the relevant language skills then it should be taught using the original texts: contact the Senior Tutor to discuss this.