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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


SP Myth and Invention: Medieval and Early Modern Iberian and Latin American Culture

SP Myth and invension: Medieval and Early Modern Iberian and Latin American Culture

Course Convenors: Dr Louise Haywood ( and Dr Rodrigo Cacho (, Section of Spanish & Portuguese

This module focuses on the medieval and early modern culture of the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America. The various seminars consider concepts such as myth, history and invention as capital ideas in the formation of literary and ideological identities. Myths such as the imagined community of Christian inhabitants of the Peninsula before the Arab Conquest and the downfall of Spain due to King Roderick’s sins are read against the backdrop of medieval historical sources and modern theoretical discussions. The construction of an Indigenous historical identity in the Quechua text known as Huarochirí manuscript is also analysed in connection with the political and religious imperialistic Spanish discourse developed in the New World. Imperial ideology is closely connected with the ‘myths of inventors’, those deemed capable of renewing conventions and traditions, especially poets such as Garcilaso who, by introducing Petrarchism in the Peninsula was able to disseminate Spanish language on a global scale. Baroque culture gave these principles a final twist, producing condensed religious plays that, thanks to the use of contradictory allegories, merged Christianity and paganism in order to craft a vision of the world where political power is both essential and pointless: myths revert on themselves leaving traces of an empire that is dissolving, inevitably, with the passage of time.     

Preliminary reading:

Simon Barton, A History of Spain, 2nd edn (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), chaps 2-4

Roger Collins, The Arab Conquest of Spain, 710-97 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989; reprt 1994)

Anthony Grafton, What is History? (Cambridge: CUP, 2007)

Derek W. Lomax, The Reconquest of Spain (London/New York: Longman, 1978)

Ignacio Navarrete, Orphans of Petrarch: Poetry and Theory in the Spanish Renaissance (Berkeley; Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1994)

Karen Spalding, Huarochirí, an Andean Society under Inca and Spanish Rule (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1984)

Jonathan Thacker, A Companion to Golden Age Theatre (Woodbridge: Tamesis, 2007)


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