H-175v. The Printing Press in Spanish America: 1492–1833

Albert A. Palacios

Course Length: 22 hours
Course Week: 22–26 July 2024
Format: online only
Fee: $1,000

This course will examine the production and consumption of print in Spanish America, with a focus on New Spain—the Spanish Empire’s largest viceroy­alty in the Americas, including present-day Mexico, Central America, most of the Caribbean, the U.S. South and Southwest, and the Philippines. The course will start with the European invasion of the Americas in 1492, analyzing the Spanish Crown’s deployment of the press as a tool to establish sovereignty over Indigenous peoples and their lands during the sixteenth century. It will close with the proliferation of the printed word and image in the wars of independence throughout Latin America (1808–1833).

Through secondary readings, lectures, and group/individual analysis of primary sources—most of which are preserved at the Benson Latin American Collection at UT Austin—participants will explore a broad variety of topics related to the printing press in colonial Latin America. These will include the:

  • establishment of the technology throughout the American hemisphere and the Philippines;
  • diversity of literary genres the colonies produced and consumed, with a particular focus on Indigenous-language acculturation texts;
  • pre-publication censorship and licensing of manuscripts destined for the press;
  • trade practices and the financing of the colonial press, with a special focus on women-run print shops;
  • materiality of books, including the supply and demand of paper and book binding;
  • use of printed visuals;
  • Inquisition’s censorship of circulating manuscripts and printed texts;
  • transoceanic and local circulation of books;
  • development of private and institutional libraries;
  • individual reading practices and the surveillance of readers;
  • rise of periodic literature, their coverage, and audiences; and
  • wars for independence in print.

Throughout the course, special attention will be given to the roles, contributions, and representation of women, Indigenous, Black, and Asian people in Spanish colonial written and printed culture. No prior knowledge of the region, the time period, or the Spanish language is required for this course. This course is intended for participants of any background or discipline.

Course History

Albert A. Palacios teaches this course online (22 hours).


Albert A. Palacios

Albert A. Palacios

Albert A. Palacios is Digital Scholarship Coordinator at LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the School of Information, The University of Texas at Austin. He is also a Digital Humanities Instructor at the National University of Tres de Febrero, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Previously, he served as Film Curatorial Assistant at the Harry Ransom Center (2010–15). He holds an undergraduate degree in Anthropology, a professional degree in Architecture, an M.S. in Information Science, an M.A. in Latin American Studies, and a doctorate in Latin American History, all from UT Austin. His doctoral research reconstructed and examined the preventive censorship process and publishing networks in sixteenth-century Mexico. Currently, he is conducting a comparative analysis of the Mexican censorial mechanism and context with those in Peru and the Philippines. He has published in Book History and Printing History. He co-directs several digital humanities projects, including the NEH-AHRC-funded “Unlocking the Colonial Archive” and the international Primeros Libros de las Américas (First Books in the Americas) digital library.

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