SPANISH 385 - Race and Ethnicity in the Hispanic World
Fall 2020, Section 002 - Race and "Blood Purity" in Medieval Spain
Instruction Mode: Section 002 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Spanish (SPANISH)
Department: LSA Romance Languages & Literatures
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of department.
Enforced Prerequisites:
SPANISH 275, 276, or SPANISH 277; or SPANISH 278 (or 290) or AMCULT 224 or LATINOAM 224; or RCLANG 324.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:


Is “race” a universal concept or has its meaning changed over time? Where does the word, and the concept it refers to, come from? Did “race” exist at all before the modern period? This course will raise these and other questions by studying the history of Jews and former Jews in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Spain. This period is recognized as a turning point in the emergence of a new opposition to Jews and minorities in Spanish society based not on religion but on a new concept of “race” and “Jewish blood." After thousands of Jews were forced to adopt Christianity at the end of the fourteenth century, Christian society began to develop a new racialized way to distinguish between recent converts and traditional Christian families. Those with “Jewish blood”, which was “inherited" and which could not be erased or changed, were condemned to face discrimination from jobs and were scrutinized by the Church—eventually in the form of the newly founded Spanish Inquisition—as potentially subversive and perpetually inferior. We will examine the emergence and use of this language of “race” and “blood” in literature, government documents, religious decrees, and art, and will read secondary historical sources about the effects of this new “racial” thinking on religious freedom, social interaction (including marriage and childrearing), and civil organizations. We will use this history as the basis for broader conversations about critical race theory and the role of family, ethnicity, and inheritance in the history of racism in Spain.

This course counts as literature credit for the minor.

Class Format:

Most readings and all discussion and writing are in Spanish. Short lectures will be recorded each week that will be available asynchronously. There will be biweekly discussion sessions that will require synchronous participation. Class discussions, including in-class presentations and lectures, will be recorded in Zoom and made available for later viewing or reviewing. As for course assessment, there will be a series of short quizzes to take in Zoom asynchronously. There will be a few writing assignments that will be discussed in class and worked on in class, but will be done asynchronously. This course relies on in-person meetings and participation, but could be adapted to asynchronous virtual meetings if needed. While it is possible to request to take the course virtually, it is not considered the ideal format, and students are expected to be on-campus for this course unless granted approval by the professor. Efforts will be made to make the content available outside of class for those who are enrolled in the on-campus section but become ill or need to be absent.


SPANISH 385 - Race and Ethnicity in the Hispanic World
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
8/31/20 - 12/8/20
002 (REC)
 In Person
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
8/31/20 - 12/8/20
099 (REC)
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
8/31/20 - 12/8/20
Note: online-only participation section.

Textbooks/Other Materials

The partner U-M / Barnes & Noble Education textbook website is the official way for U-M students to view their upcoming textbook or course material needs, whether they choose to buy from Barnes & Noble Education or not. Students also can view a customized list of their specific textbook needs by clicking a "View/Buy Textbooks" link in their course schedule in Wolverine Access.

Click the button below to view and buy textbooks for SPANISH 385.002

View/Buy Textbooks


Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for SPANISH 385 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi

CourseProfile (Atlas)

The Atlas system, developed by the Center for Academic Innovation, provides additional information about: course enrollments; academic terms and instructors; student academic profiles (school/college, majors), and previous, concurrent, and subsequent course enrollments.

CourseProfile (Atlas)