HISTORY 287 - A History of the Spanish and Portuguese Early Modern World
Winter 2021, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  Online (see other Sections below)
Subject: History (HISTORY)
Department: LSA History
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


How did the world we inhabit come to be? In what circumstances were assumptions about others, and were inter-relationships between different people and parts of the globe, formed?

This introductory course explores the proposition that the world as we know it was born amidst a steady stream of horrors and enchantment. Spanish and Portuguese overseas expansions between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries touched off intrusions, disturbances and complex aftermaths across the lands and among the peoples of the Mediterranean, the Americas, Africa, and Asia.

None of the early modern "empires" that become our theaters of thought and action and consequences turned out as planned. In this inter-connecting world, horror and enchantment coexisted, emerging and evolving together. We will study five major themes -- Power, God(s), Work, Change, and Truth -- highlighting texts and images created in the places and times we are exploring. Our eye will be on dreams and nightmares, on the terrible magnetism of misery, on the ways in which tragedies jostled with new beginnings and abject fear with fascination. We will see how conquests brought dissolution and catastrophe but also possibilities. Change -- most radically projected as religious conversion -- menaces and exhilarates. There is adventure in the anxiety and unfamiliarity of transoceanic travel, slavery in wealth, desire in absence, monster in treasure, chaos in awe.

We will also learn technical and presentational skills as we turn a series of short writing assignments into a collage of audio-texts, creating episodes in a culminating podcast "season" about horror and enchantment in the early modern world. Our investigations and 'casting will include personal dimensions, with the overall goal being a telling of the past differently than is normally the case in academic history-making. For the past is present. In studying the projections and predicaments, dreams and nightmares, doings and un-doings of our historical subjects, we will also be exploring ourselves, and the volatilities and predicaments of our own time and place.

Course Requirements:

  • Participation and engagement in discussions and exercises (30%)
  • four short writing assignments, creative and analytical (40%)
  • a collaborative assignment (5%)
  • a final project and presentation (25%)

Intended Audience:

Students at all levels. Students seeking a mind-stretching introduction, a gateway on to the study of many connecting histories, and students seeking to explore and develop noticing, listening, creative research, writing, and presentational skills.

Class Format:

2 lectures with discussion and exercises; and 1 discussion section per week


HISTORY 287 - A History of the Spanish and Portuguese Early Modern World
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
Note: Remote with a blend of synchronous and asynchronous instruction.

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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.

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