Header image
Bernard Bailyn, Director


Visualizing Difference in Colonial Spanish America: From Bodily
Representations to the Production of Space


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Professor: Mariselle Meléndez

Check here for related images and links from this course web site.

In colonial times the word “image” referred to figures, representations, likeness and appearance. Because images were always connected to a space or to spatial relationships from which they emerged, they were
implicitly marked by social and political agendas. With the arrival of the Spaniards to the Americas, Colonial Spanish America became as Serge Gruzinski suggests in “un fabuloso laboratorio de imágenes” in which
images represented vehicles of all kind of power and personal experiences. This graduate seminar will pay attention to the crucial role that such images played in the conquest and colonization of the so
called “New World.” We will discuss the manner in which indigenous groups, Africans, Europeans and other castas pictured and visualized their existence in the colonial world through written words or visual
systems of recording information. We will examine how visual images offered an account of the practices of negotiation, domination and resistance that were involved in the process of the conquest and
colonization in Spanish America by becoming an intrinsic part of the identity construction of the colonial subject. We will focus on how space, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and the colonial body are
delineated through visual images that aimed to convey a message more accessible to a multilingual society. Examining the colonial world as it was constructed in written and non-written texts offer a clear idea of
the manner in which visual images intersect with political power. Focusing on engravings, frontispieces, drawings, and maps that accompanied many colonial texts as well indigenous visual systems of
recording including codices, and also colonial paintings, we would try to determine the cultural and political agendas that marked the inclusion and creation of such images as a way to convey a visual
message. A part of the course will also be devoted to theoretical discussions pertaining to visual culture and colonialism. Class will be conducted in Spanish.

Book/Article Presentation 15%
Class Participation 20%
Paper proposal including bibliography 15%
(April 11)
Final Paper (May 2) 50%


1. Attendance is expected. More than one unexcused absence and your final class participation grade will be lowered.
2. You should be in class on time. Recurrent tardiness will affect your class participation grade. When needed, we may have to extend the seminar until 5:00 PM. This may be necessary during the days in which
students presentations are scheduled.
3. Class participation is essential. Active participation is expected every week. It is also very important to bring to class the textbooks that we are using. This will make easier for you to follow the discussions.
Short presentations will be given weekly. The goal of these presentations is to get everybody involved in class. Each individual will discuss a passage of the text being read in class. You will need to
explain the relevance of the passage in terms of the issues being discussed in class, and also explain why it interests you. You will have a maximum of 5 minutes to present your point and pose questions to the
4. The final paper should be turned in on Friday May 2 at 1:00 PM. In fairness to all the students in class, late papers (if accepted) will suffer a grade penalty. Details about what is expected in the paper will
be given early in the semester. By Thursday, April 11 you will turn in a three page proposal of your
final paper and a complete bibliography. Basically, the proposal should be the introduction of your final paper. More specific details will be given early in the semester.
5.Academics codes of honor. Every student is expected to follow the codes of honor and academic ethics as set forth in the University’s codes of Policies and Regulations.
Please see: http://www.uiuc.edu/adminmanual/
code/rule-33.html. Infraction of these rules will result in dismissal from the course.
12. Disabled students should contact the professor at the beginning of the semester. If you have special needs related with disabilities please, contact me and we can discuss it privately.
100-97% A+ 79.9-77% C+
96.9-94% A 76.9-74% C
93.8-90% A- 73.9-70% C-
89.9-87% B+ 69.9-67% D+
86.9-84% B 66.9-64% D
83.9-80% B- 63.9-60% D-
59.9-0%% F

1. Colón, Cristóbal. Los cuatros viajes del Almirante. R
2. Gruzinski, Serge. La guerra de las imágenes. De Cristóbal Colón a “Blade Runner”.
3. Guaman Poma de Ayala, Felipe. Nueva Corónica y Buen Gobierno. R
4. Harley, J.B. Maps and the Columbian Encounter.
5. McCormak, Sabine. Religion in the Andes. Vision and Imagination. R
6. Mitchell, W.J. Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation. R
7. Moreno Mengibar, Andrés (editor). Las Casas, Bartolomé. Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias. (This edition only)
8. Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Alvar. Naufragios. R
9. Santa Cruz Pachacuti, Juan. Relación de las Antiguedades deste Reino de Perú. Centro de Estudios Regionales Andinos. (This edition only)
10. Tobin, Beth F. Picturing Imperial Power. R
11. Packet of Photocopies (UP CLOSE-714 South Sixth Street)
12. Cruz, sor Juana Inés. “Respuesta a sor Filotea”
13. CLASS WEB PAGE (http//www.sip.uiuc.edu/melendez/span442) Here you will find visual material and other important links pertaining to our discussion.
* Professor will provide photocopy
R: The book has been reserved. Location: Undergraduate Library

II. REFERENCE BOOKS: Johnson, Julie Greer. The Book in the Americas. R
Lenaghan, Patrick. Defining the Americas. Accounts and Images.

* IMPORTANT: Later in the semester we will attend a class at the Rare Book Collection in our Library. It will probably be on a Thursday. The librarians will introduce us to relevant material (including manuscripts
and first editions) of texts pertaining to the colonial period.

Week #1 January 15-17
- Introduction
Week #2 January 22-24
Mitchell, Picture Theory (pp. 1-165); Barthes, Roland. “Rethoric of the Image” (pp. 70-73)*
Week #3 January 29-31
- Tobin, Picturing Imperial Power (pp.1-109, 202-226); Rogoff, Irit “Studying Visual Culture” (pp.14-26) *
Week #4 February 5-7
- McCormak, Religion in the Andes. Vision and Imagination… (pp3-204)
Week #5 February 12-14
- Gruzinski, La guerra de las imágenes (pp.11-200)
Week #6 February 19-21
- Colón, Cristóbal (Diario del primer, segundo y tercer viaje); Harley, Maps and the Columbian Encounter (pp.1-60); Images related to Columbus and
America in Class WEB PAGE
PRESENTATION: Zamora, Margarita. “Gender and Discovery” in Reading Columbus .

Week #7 February 26-28
- Las Casas, Brevísima relación…; “Imágenes de violencia” and “Canibalismo” in Class WEB PAGE;
PRESENTATION: Conley, Tom. “De Bry’s Las Casas” in Amerindian Images and the Legacy of Columbus.
Week #8 March 5-7
- Cabeza de Vaca, Naufragios; Selections of the film “Cabeza de Vaca”
PRESENTATION: Rabasa, José, “Reading Cabeza de Vaca, or How We Perpetuate the Culture of Conquest” in Writing Violence on the Northern Frontier.
Week #9 March 12-14
- Bernal Díaz, Historia verdadera de la Conquista de Nueva España (Selección) y Lienzo de Tlaxcala from the Códice Florentino in UP CLOSE PACKET
PRESENTATION: Mignolo, Walter, “Signs and their Transmission: The Question of the Book in the New World” in Writing Without Words. Alternative Literacies in Mesoamerica & the Andes.
Week #10 March 19-21 (SPRING BREAK)

Week #11 March 26-28
- Guaman Poma, Nueva Corónica y Buen Gobierno (Volumes 1 and 2); See also Guaman Poma’s link in the CLASS WEB PAGE
Week #12 April 2-4
- Santa Cruz Pachacuti, Relación de las Antigüedades deste Reyno de Perú; “Habitantes del Perú” in the CLASS WEB PAGE
PRESENTATION: Cummins, Tom. “Representation in the Sixteenth Century and the Colonial Image of the Inca” in Writing Without Words. Alternative Literacies in Mesoamerica & the Andes.
Week #13 April 9-11
- Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, “Respuesta a sor Filotea”; Selection from the film “Yo la peor de todas”; Sor Juana’s Portraits” and the site “The sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Project” in the CLASS WEB PAGE
PRESENTATION: Haraway, Donna. “The Persistence of Vision” (pp.191-198) in The Visual Culture Reader
Week #14 April 16-18
- Cuadro de Castas (Casta Painting) in CLASS WEB PAGE, See also the links: “Casta Painting” and “Casta Paintings” in CLASS WEB PAGE; Judovitz, ”Introduction: The Culture of the Body” in The Culture of he
Body (pp.1-12);* Mirzoeff, Nicholas, “Visual Colonialism” (pp.282-289) in The Visual Culture Reader*

PRESENTATION: Young, Robert J.C, “Culture and the History of Difference” in Colonial Desire. Hibridity in Theory, Culture and Race.
Week #15 April 23-25
- OFFICE CONSULTATION-Devoted to the research paper
Week #16 April 30
- OFFICE CONSULTATION- Devoted to the research paper

  © 2009 by The President and Fellows of Harvard College. Created January 16, 1998; last revised February 24, 2011.