Indigenous Literature

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Course Information
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 

This course concentrates on the historical and literary perceptions of the natives before and during the Spanish Conquest. In order to achieve this purpose, we will focus on the relationship between literary representations of "the other". Also the idea that History is a mixture of truth and fiction will be explored through selections of the Spanish Chronicles on the Conquest. In reading samples of these chronicles we will also study its Eurocentric point of view and how it helped shape the way Europe, from its self proclaimed superiority, defined the New World.

Students will be expected to read, analyze, compare, contrast and discuss each text. So that they discuss and write effectively, their Spanish level should be advanced.

Attendance policy: 

Students are expected to come class every day and to participate in our activities. They are allowed three absences without penalty. From then on, unless there is a justified reason, each absence will mean a point off the final grade. If students plan a trip abroad, is mandatory to get permission from our program coordinator.

Method of presentation: 

Workshops, oral presentations, reading comprehension exercises, class participation.

Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Oral presentation - 10%
  • Workshops, homework, Moodle - 5%
  • Questionaires - 10%
  • 3 Short quizzes - 30%
  • Midterm exam - 15%
  • Final exam - 20%
  • Class participation - 10%

Worshops are exercises in which some chapters are analyzed in detail by students. They will be divided into small groups or pairs.

Each student is expected to prepare an oral presentation about a text. The syllabus establishes specific dates for oral  presentations.

Week Content
  • Introduction: Knowledge and Identity. Who are you? How do we define our culture? What is indigenous literature? Who writes the history?
  • Assignment: What is history acroding to you? What is America?
  • Song: ”Yo no soy de aquí, ni soy de allá’’ by Cabral.
  • Explanation of the syllabus. History and fiction. Workshop: Voltaire.
  • Stereotypes of the indio.


  • Stereotypes.
  • Leopoldo Zea, El pensamiento latinoamericano.
  • Leopoldo Zea, La filosofía en Latinoamérica como problema del hombre.
  • Survey and discussion.


  • Reading: Rousseau y Bufón sobre el indio. 
  • Discusión about history. Relationship between history and literature. Moodle: homework 1
  • Ginés de  Sepúlveda. 

Quiz 1

  • Profile of Guamán. Workshop about "el otro" texts (Guamán Poma, Colón, García  Márquez)
  • Homework: Moodle: Myth and reason.
  • Commenting on images. Example cited by Regina Harrison. Other images about Guamán.
  • Myth, conclusion. Mystifying and demystifying.
  • Todorov, first part.
  • Todorov, second part.
  • Assignment about what las Crónicas are. “Sirenas en el amazonas”.
  • Mario V LLosa.
  • Who tells history? Analysis of las Crónicas of América.
  • Workshop: Bernal Díaz del Castillo.
  • Workshop: Bernal Díaz.
  • Germán Arciniegas: Don Quijote y América.
  • Love/hate relationship and "otherness": América and the "hombres mostrudos".

Midterm exam

  • La leyenda negra. Moodle: Las Casas. Controversia.
  • La leyenda negra. El Padre las Casas (selections).
  • Guest lecture. (History, anthropology, literature, etc.)
  • Film: Y también la lluvia.
  • Workshop. Aricle by Gustavo Gutierrez: “emancipación e identidad.”
  • Aboriginal speech. 
  • La versión de los vencidos. Miguel L Portilla.  
  • Workshop: The myth of Quetzalcoatl. Moodle 4.
  • Enrique Dussel, selections from “De la conquista a la colonización.”
  • Dussel: De la invasión al “des cubrimiento del OTRO.
  •  Wachtel and the death of the gods. “De anuncios y profecías”.
  • Leopoldo Zea. Selections from Poesía azteca.

Quiz 2

  • La flor y canto.
  • Elocution exercises. Philosophy & ritual poetry.
  • Article by Octavio Paz: “Conquista y colonia." Survey
  • Myan myths. El POPOL VUH. Workshop.
  • The origins and the flood. Legend of Issicha Puytu. Myth of Chuhuanjinu o Chusalongo.
  • Piety and Alfredo Costales.
  • Guest lecture: Ecuadorian literature

Quiz 3

  • Novel by Carlos Arcos. Memorias de Andrés Chiliquinga. First 4 chapters.
  • Memorias de Andrés Chiliquinga. Chapters 5-9.
  • Memorias de Andrés Chiliquinga. Chapters 10-17.
  • Memorias de Andrés Chiliquinga. Chapters 18-21.

Final exam


Required readings: 
  • Compendio que incluye artículos de:
  • Leopoldo Zea, La filosofía en Latinoamérica como problema del hombre.
  • Arturo Uslar Pietri, Un juego de espejos deformantes.
  • Zvetan Todorov, La cuestión del otro.
  • Mario Vargas Llosa, Sirenas en el amazonas.
  • Germán Arciniegas, Don Quijote y América.
  • Gustavo Gutierrez, Emancipación e identidad.
  • Miguel León Portilla, La versión de los vencidos.
  • Enrique Dussel, De la invasión al descubrimiento del otro.
  • Octavio Paz, Conquista y colonia.
  • Carlos Arcos: Memorias de Andrés Chiliquinga. Alfaguara.