H-170v. Spanish American Textual Technologies to 1700

Hortensia Calvo Christine Hernández Rachel Stein

Length: 10 hours
Format: Online

This course will explore the history of textual technologies in the region now referred to as Spanish America, from the pre-contact period to the colonial period (c. 300 BC to c. 1700 AD). The framework of “textual technologies”—as opposed to “the book”—encompasses the variety of material modes of writing and recording employed before and after 1492. We will cover a broad range of topics, from stone inscriptions and painted texts on artifacts of a variety of materials to knot-tying, writing with ink on linen paper, and manual printing on the moveable-type press. This online course is a condensed version of a longer in-person course to take place at The Latin American Library (LAL) at Tulane University in New Orleans in 2022. 

Among the central questions the course will explore are: How did the diverse cultures of Spanish America—both pre- and post-contact—materialize sacred texts, histories, genealogies, tributes, cartographies, geographies, accountings, and politics? How have scholars historically categorized, classified, and interpreted Latin American writing, texts, maps, and books, and in what ways have Eurocentric epistemologies influenced and inhibited these conceptualizations? How did cross-cultural encounters figure in Latin American textual technologies, and what frameworks and theories have been used to account for the text as site of contact? What social and political roles did Latin American textual technologies play in different temporal and geographic contexts? 

The course will leverage the rich special collections and archives of the LAL. Readings and discussions will revolve around such highlights as rubbings of Maya monuments and stelae; original and facsimile Mesoamerican painted manuscripts and maps; American incunabula (1559–1600) and early imprints from other countries in the region; early Spanish American notarial, administrative, and ecclesiastical manuscripts; and early European imprints about the Spanish Indies. There are few repositories in the United States with such a range and depth of materials to study the history of the Latin American text. This course will mix a variety of pedagogical approaches such as lectures, group discussions, and small-group analysis of rare materials.  

A reading knowledge of Spanish is desirable, but not required. Please note that most of the rare books and manuscripts we will be working with will be in Spanish and Indigenous languages of the Americas. Secondary readings will be in English and Spanish.  

Click here to view the course description for the in-person version of this course, “Spanish American Textual Technologies to c.1820.”

Course History

Hortensia Calvo, Christine Hernández, and Rachel Stein teach this course online (10 hours).
This course is not currently being offered. Please do not list on any RBS fellowship or scholarship applications.

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  • Hortensia Calvo
  • Christine Hernández
  • Rachel Stein

Hortensia Calvo

Hortensia Calvo has been the Doris Stone Director of The Latin American Library at Tulane University since 2003. She holds a Licenciatura in Philosophy from the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, an M.A. in Spanish and Spanish American literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Ph.D. in Spanish from Yale University. Her research interests and publications include the Spanish and Spanish American literary Baroque and the social history of books and print culture in Latin America. She is also the co-author of Cartas de Lysi: La Mecenas de Sor Juana en Correspondencia Inédita (Madrid: Vervuert-Iberoamericana, 2015), a critical edition of recently discovered correspondence by María Luisa Manrique de Lara y Gonzaga, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz’s mentor. Before coming to Tulane, she taught literature at Yale and Princeton Universities and served as Librarian for Latin America and Iberia at Duke, where she also taught in the Romance Studies Department. At Tulane she oversees all administrative functions, collection policies, programs, and services of The Latin American Library. Since 2006, she has served as Executive Director of the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM).

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Christine Hernández

Christine Hernández serves as Curator of Special Collections of The Latin American Library at Tulane University and has coordinated digitization initiatives at The Latin American Library since 2012. She received her A.B. in Spanish and Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, where she was Phi Beta Kappa, and earned her M.A. and her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Tulane University in 2000. She specializes in Mesoamerican archaeology with practical experience in the Greater Southwest of the US and Southeast Louisiana. She has published widely on the archaeology of Mesoamerica, specializing in the prehistory of Michoacán and the El Bajío region of north-central Mexico, and prehispanic painted Maya and highland central Mexican codices. Her published works include journal articles and chapters in edited volumes by publishers like Dumbarton Oaks, University of Florida Press, Ancient Mesoamerica, Ancient America, Middle American Research Institute, and BAR. She has co-authored several volumes with Dr. Gabriel Vail, the most recent of which is Re-Creating Primordial Time: Foundation Rituals and Mythology in the Postclassic Maya Codices (2013), published by University Press of Colorado.

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Rachel Stein

Rachel Stein has been Research & Instruction Librarian at The Latin American Library at Tulane University since 2018. She holds a Ph.D. in Latin American and Iberian Cultures from Columbia University. Her doctoral research examined the printing of books on America, Africa, and Asia in seventeenth-century Lisbon, tracing global production networks across coordinates as diverse as Mexico City, Isla Margarita, Buenos Aires, Bahia, Antwerp, Portuguese Morocco, and Goa. She has published reviews in The Papers of the Bibliographic Society of America and The Journal of Early Modern History and has a forthcoming article on integrating second language and special collections pedagogy. Rachel has been a Senior Fellow with the Andrew W. Mellon-Rare Book School Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography since 2014. Her research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and Fundação Luso-Americana para o Desenvolvimento (Portugal).

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