Spring 2012

Food: Power, Identity, Memory

Listed in: Spanish, as SPAN-386



This course will look at some of the most important texts from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century in order to trace the importance that food played in the colonization and development of Spanish America:  Columbus (his initial encounters; search for spices; concerns about feeding his fleet); Bernal Díaz del Castillo and Miguel León Portilla (the conquest of Mexico--are you what you eat?); Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca's odyssey of hunger in the U.S. Southwest; Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, first official chronicler of the Indies and their flora; the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (first important mestizo historian) on the beginnings of the food exchange; Arzáns de Orsúa y Vela on the association between coca and witchcraft in colonial Potosí.

Nuns had their own rules about fasting and discipline of the body: we will look at Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and her late seventeenth-century contemporary Madre María de San José and also examine the turmoil caused by nuns’ unwillingness to give up drinking chocolate.  We will study the famous eighteenth-century Castas Paintings, which pair racial mixtures and autocthonous foods, as well as Concolorcorvo’s travels and his descriptions of the food practices of the gauchos. While poet Andrés Bello celebrated the fertility of the tropical American land, Argentina´s foremost woman writer, Juana Manuela Gorriti, created a celebrity community cookbook which offers a fascinating glimpse of her social, literary and economic context. We will read works by both writers. Since travel literature was an important genre in this century, we will also read Argentine Eduarda Mansilla de García´s 1861 narrative of her visit to the United States and her impressions of the country and of the food.  Conducted in Spanish.

Requisite:  SPAN 199, 211 or 212 or consent of the instructor.  Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Scott.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012