In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue and discovered or destroyed, conquered or civilized the Americas. Sixty years later, in 1552, López de Gómara, the private secretary of Hernán Cortes, wrote, “The greatest event since the creation of the world (excluding the incarnation and death of Him who created it) is the discovery of the Indies [i.e. Americas].” He was, himself, a participant the conquest of Mexico. From the very beginning, not only the magnitude, but also the meaning of the Conquest of the Americas has been a point of controversy and acclaim. The history of Early Latin America, however, does not begin in October 1492. Indigenous bands and great civilizations inhabited North and South America for more than ten thousand years prior to the arrival of Europeans on the shores of Caribbean islands. Thus, in this class we will concentrate on the pre-Colombian period, the conquest period, and the ensuing three hundred years of Spanish (and to a limited extent) Portuguese rule. The lectures will move both chronologically and topically. We will concentrate on two key geographic areas of examination— central Mexico, home to the highly structured pre-Columbian societies of the Maya and the Mexica, among many others, and later the center of Spanish control in its northern kingdoms as the Viceroyalty of New Spain; and, the central Andes, land of the Inca Empire and its subject polities (among others), and home of the Viceroyalty of Peru, the center of Spanish power in its southern kingdoms. Our class will cover a tremendous breadth of time and territory, and as such the lectures, readings, and discussion sections are designed to draw your critical attention to issues, including ethnicity, gender, slavery, culture, and power, as well as the institutions and structures that patterned native, African, and European experiences of Spanish and Portuguese imperialism.