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HISTORY 372B: Colonial Mexico: Images and Power (HISTORY 272, ILAC 214, ILAC 314)

How did images maintain, construct, or transform political power during the conquest and colonization of Mexico? The creation and destruction of visual materials in this period had a complicated relationship with power. The pictographic codices that celebrated the expansive Aztec Empire were created after its fall; and the conquistadors' indigenous allies painted some of the most triumphalist narratives of the conquest. Friars accused indigenous peoples of "idolatry" both to justify the destruction of their images and objects, and to construct legal defenses of their humanity. Colonial authorities frequently claimed Afro-Catholic festivals were seditious. In light of such complexity, official histories that recount the top-down consolidation of royal and viceroyal power are suspiciously simple. What counter-narratives do images and other visual phenomena from this tumultuous period offer? This course introduces students to major texts from Colonial Mexico (royal chronicles, conquistadors' tales, letters, poems, festival accounts) alongside a fascinating trove of images (painted codices with Nahuatl texts, feather mosaics, and indigenous heraldry) and considers how experiences of images and spectacles were transformed into textual accounts ("ekphrasis" or the literary device of description). Taught in Spanish.
Terms: Aut | Units: 3-5
Instructors: ; Hughes, N. (PI)
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