HILA 463: The Spanish Inquisition
Spring 2022

Prof. Chad Black
Email: cblack6@utk.edu
Phone: 974-9871
Office: 2627 Dunford Hall, 6th Floor
Office Hours: Wednesday 2:00-4:00, or by appointment

  1. About
  2. course objectives
  3. policies


The Spanish Inquisition lives on in the popular imagination more than five hundred years after it was established in 1478. Monty Python taught us no one expected it. Mel Brooks turned it into a song. This dark humor worked to de-fang an institution associated with the worst impulses of religious intolerance and persecution. This course will look at the long history of the Spanish Inquisition on the Iberian peninsula and in the Americas to go beyond secret trails, torture, and autos-da-fe to understand why the Inquisition was established, its institutional role was in Spanish rule, and its legacies for the modern world.

course objectives

  1. To introduce students to the forces, events, and conflicts that defined the establishment and operation of the Spanish Inquisition.
  2. To understand and use a variety of sources that provide the core of historical inquiry.
  3. To learn and improve skills in reading, synthesizing, and writing about historical scholarship.


Qualified students with disabilities needing appropriate academic adjustments should contact me as soon as possible to ensure that your needs are met in a timely manner with appropriate documentation.

Masks: The University is currently requiring students, faculty, and staff to mask indoors. We will comply with this requirement. The Delta variant of this virus is extremely contagious, with an R0 somewhere between 5-9 (one person will infect on average 5-9 people). This turns the classroom into a potentially high-risk situation. Wearing a mask for 75 minutes indoors is a small price to pay to be back in University community.

Attendance: Attendance is mandatory. If you cannot attend, please email Dr. Black or your TA ahead of time. We’re not making an Inquisition into your absences, so the reasons you can’t attend are not as important as giving us the heads up. If you have any symptoms or have been exposed to COVID, please do not come to class! Just send us a quick email, and get tested.

Deadlines: Assignments must uploaded to Canvas by the end of the day on which they are due. Late papers will not be accepted with out prior arrangement. If you will not be able to complete an assignment on time, you must contact me and your TA ahead of time. If you contract COVID or some other illness, please let us know so that we can work with you.

Cell Phones, Laptops, Zoom: Cellphones should be put away during class. Please do not text or post to the Group Me during class. It is very distracting to people around you, and to the professor. Laptops may be used to take notes, but I would ask you to seriously consider using paper instead. If you want or need to use a laptop, please consider sitting towards the back of the room so as to minimize distractions behind you. If we have to utilize Zoom at some point, please practice the kind of respectful manners that I’m sure you have become used to over the last 15 months. In class and on Zoom, I would invite you to interrupt me with questions during lecture.

Research shows that analog note-taking improves learning. Consider having paper with you. Based on the prevailing literature, hand note-taking– both while reading and in class– leads to substantially better educational outcomes. Consider taking notes by hand even though you’ll be watching on your computer.

Drop-in Hours: Students are strongly encouraged to speak with me and the TAs outside of class. The advantages include: extra help on an assignment or preparation for exams; clarification of materials covered in lecture, discussion of comments on your work; discussion of this or related courses. I have an open door policy during my drop-in hours. I will be there, and you are welcome to come by for any reason. Your TAs have the same. I’m also available via zoom by appointment.

Changes: I reserve the write to change this syllabus as the semester progresses. This is not a contract, but rather a document to guide expectations and clearly communicate weekly assignments. Please bring the syllabus with you to our class meetings. Or, keep up with it on the course website. We’ll have to remain flexible as the outlook for our fourth pandemic semester is still uncertain.