Posted by: | 24th Nov, 2008

reflections at the end of the day

Having read a couple of passages from these authors before taking this course, it was satisfying to re-encounter them and read them fully within their literary context, along a continuum of evolving philosophical, political, and moral positions about the Americas. It was interesting how the Spaniards attempted to reconcile their identity with that of their newfound “other” and how no matter how much benevolence was shown towards the indigenous people, it always came with notions of superiority and thoughts on how to make them useful to the Spanish Crown. Cabeza de Vaca and Las Casas were deeply faithful to the king, no matter how much havoc was wreaked by his forces in the Americas. We discussed the hegemonic power that the Spaniards sought to exert over the indigenous people, by preaching God to them and teaching them European practices and habits, but what of the Spanish government over its own people, as to convince them of the legitimacy of a nation-building project that enslaves a continent of fellow human beings. Ideology proves to be a more powerful force in certain circumstances than compassion for others or repulsion to extreme violence.

We also saw a new national consciousness arising in colonial Mexico through the texts. It is interesting that the idea of performance and the manipulation of words are prominent here. Both Sor Juana and Lizardi had some scathing criticisms of their contemporary society, but it could only be said through a veil of carefully constructed language. Both of them described utopic alternatives to their current realities; Sor Juana dreamed of a society governed by reason rather than prejudice and trivialities, where mental quality not gender determined the opportunities open to one in life, and Lizardi hoped that Mexico would be ruled by responsible people who were from that land and personally invested in its healthy development, rather than an imposed and inadequate Spanish government. I liked how none of our readings were exactly representative of their genre, but they reveal a great deal about the times in which they were written, through how they decry injustice and stupidity, call for reason and morality, omit certain subjects and favor others.

Leave a response

Your response:


Spam prevention powered by Akismet