Week 1 – Introduction

Thursday, August 19, 2021


  • Syllabus and Course Website

Week 2 – History and Theory I

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

We start this week by examining assumptions we often make about the relationship between the past and the present. It is not uncommon for people to imagine the present as better than the past, particularly given the rapid technological changes of the last 150 years. Walter Benjamin asks us to examine such assumptions, that History is a story of progress, as well as what the obligations of the present are to the past. This is a curious reading. Treat it like a puzzle, and see if you can unlock Benjamin’s claims.


  • Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” Illuminations (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019).

Bring to class a list of categories and concepts divided into two columns: HISTORICISM and HISTORICAL MATERIALISM. As you read Benjamin’s text, add any concepts, keywords, or categories to one of these two columns. Historicism here is what Benjamin associates with progress, history-as-progress, etc.

Thursday, August 26, 2021


  • Joan Wallach Scott, “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis” The American Historical Review 91, no. 5 (1986): 1053-075.

As you read this article, consider how Scott defines gender. Is gender as a category of historical analysis essentially women’s history? If not, how does it differ? Take notes on the reading and be ready to discuss in class.

Week 3 – History and Theory II

This week we will continue thinking about larger historical questions in relation to theory and methodology.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021


  • Jeanne Boydston, “Gender as a Question of Historical Analysis,” Gender & History 20.3 (Nov 2008): 558-583.

How does Boydston, writing in 2008, differ from Scott writing some twenty years before?

Thursday, September 2, 2021


  • Pete Sigal, “Latin America and the Challenge of Globalizing the History of Sexuality,” The American Historical Review Volume 114, Issue 5 (December 2009), 1340–1353.

Due: Write a 1 page reaction to the last two weeks of reading, drawing from our discussions of History, Gender, and Sexuality. What do you see as the most difficult challenges in doing the history of gender and sexuality?

Week 4 – Before the Conquest I

Over the next few weeks we will compare how three pre-conquest societies were organized by gendered systems- the Inca, the Mexica, and the Spanish. Pay close attention to the metaphors by which gendered roles were understood. How did mythologies, family, sexuality, work, etc. expressed in gendered terms? What do those terms tell us about normative expectations and their differences in the three societies?

Tuesday, September 7, 2021


  • Handbook of Inca Mythology, pp 1-28.

Thursday, September 9, 2021


  • Frank Salomon, “Indian Women of Early Colonial Quito as Seen Through Their Testaments,” The Americas 44:3 (Jan. 1988), 325-341.

  • Selections from Guaman Poma de Ayala, El Primer Nuevo Crónica y Buen Gobierno, Trans. John V. Murra, et. al. Mexico: Siglo Veintiuno, 1992 [1615]. Text and drawings.

Due: Write a research memo on Salomon’s article. Instructions for how to write a research memo are available here.

Week 5 – Before the Conquest II

Tuesday, September 14, 2021


  • Schroeder et. al. Chapters 1, 2, 5.

Thursday, September 16, 2021


  • Rosemary Joyce, “Gender, Performance, Power, and Reproduction” and “Becoming Human: Body and Person in Aztec Tenochtitlan,” in Gender and Power in Prehispanic Mesoamerica (Austin: University of Texas, 2000).

Due: Write a one page reaction paper to the week’s readings. Can you identify parallels between the chapters in Schroeder and Joyce?

Week 6 Before the Conquest III

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

What distinguishes practice and prescription in early-modern Spanish societies? Are prescriptive norms historically more significant than popular norms?


  • Poska, Allyson. 1996. “When Love Goes Wrong: Getting out of Marriage in Seventeenth-Century Spain,” Journal of Social History 29.4: 873-882.


  • Behrend-Martinez, Edward. “Manhood and the Neutered Body in Early Modern Spain.” Journal of Social History 38, no. 4 (2005): 1073-1093.

Thursday, September 23, 2021


  • Taylor, Scott. “Credit, Debt, and Honor in Castile, 1600-1650” Journal of Early Modern History 7:1-2 (January 2003), 8-27.

Due: Choose one of this week’s readings and write a research memo on the article.

Week 7 – Fall Break

Due: Topic and preliminary bibliography for your final paper.

Week 8 – The Colonial Crucible I

In the 16th and 17th centuries, new societies were forged in a crucible of conquest, disease, labor, and politics. How were men and women differentially affected by these shifts?

Tuesday, October 5, 2021


  • Schroeder, et.al., Chapters 3-4

Thursday, October 7, 2021


  • Schroeder, et.al., Chapter 7

Due: Write a 1 page reaction to this week’s readings.

Week 9 – The Colonial Crucible II

Tuesday, October 12, 2021


  • Karen B. Graubart, “‘Women were governing before the Spanish entered this kingdom”: The Institutionalization of the Cacica from the North Coast of Peru,” pp. 139-164 in Ochoa and Guengerich, editors, Cacicas: The Indigenous Women Leaders of Spanish America, 1492-1825 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2021).

Thursday, October 14, 2021


  • Lane, Kris. Captivity and Redemption: Aspects of Slave Life in Early Colonial Quito and Popayan.” The Americas 57:2 (Oct. 2000), 225-246.

Due: Research memo on either the Lane or Graubart pieces.

Week 10 – Marriage and Family

Tuesday, October 19, 2021


  • Socolow, Susan Migden. “Permission to Marry: Eighteenth-Century Matrimonial Files.” In Colonial Lives: Documents on Latin American History, 1550-1850, ed. Richard Boyer and Geoffrey Spurling. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2000 (236-248).

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Due: Research memos on 4 of your paper sources.

Week 11 – The Religious Option

There were formal and informal forms of spiritual power for men and women in the colonial period. Why were they chosen? How were they pursued? Who did they threaten?

Tuesday, October 26, 2021


  • Behar, Ruth. “Sexual Witchcraft, Colonialism, and Women’s Powers: Views from the Mexican Inquisition.” In Sexuality and Marriage in Colonial Latin America, ed. Asunción Lavrin. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1992 (178-206).

Thursday, October 28, 2021


  • van Deusen, Nancy E. “Defining the Sacred and the Worldly: Beatas and Recogidas in Late-Seventeenth-Century Lima.” Colonial Latin American Historical Review 6:4 (Fall 1997).

  • Holler, Jacqueline. “The Spiritual and Physical Ecstasies of a Sixteenth-Century Beata: Marina de San Miguel Confesses Before the Mexican Inquisition.” In Colonial Lives, Documents on Latin American History, 1550-1850, ed. Richard Boyer and Geoffrey Spurling. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2000 (77-100).

Due: Write a 1 page response to the case of Marina de San Miguel.

Week 12 – Sexuality and Society I

We will approach a general discussion of sexuality across the colonial period by considering the acts that the church and state punished as “unnatural.” What is the significance of “natural” and “unnatural” in organizing power in society? Which defines the other? What do we learn about daily life by reading cases on the most extreme expressions of sexual desire in the colonial period?

Tuesday, November 2, 2021


  • Tortorici, Introduction and Chapter 1.

Thursday, November 4, 2021


  • Tortorici, Chapters 2 and 3.

Due: One-page reaction paper to the first half of the book.

Week 13 – Sexuality and Society II

Tuesday, November 9, 2021


  • Tortorici, Chapters 4 and 5.

Thursday, November 11, 2021


  • Tortorici, Chapter 6 and Conclusion.

Due: One-page reaction paper to the second half of the book.

Week 14 – The 18th Century Reaction

The 18th century was an age of reactionary family politics under the guise of enlightened reform. How did the Age of Enlightenment in colonial Spanish America represent one step forward, two steps back? How did some religious figures express this reaction in new approaches to pregnancy and the fetus? How did the reformist state use sexuality as a location to discipline society and to what ends?

Tuesday, November 16, 2021


  • Baptism Through Incision: The Postmortem Cesarean Operation in the Spanish Empire 41-93.

Thursday, November 18, 2021


  • Black, Chad. “Negotiating Adultery in Bourbon Quito,” Routledge Reader on Colonialism and Sexuality. London: Routledge Press, 2021.

Due: Write a one-page response to Baptism through Incision. Consider how this treatise was politically reactionary.

Week 15 – Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

No class, but your historiography paper is due.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Week 16 – Wrap it up

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

A final discussion on the semester. What relevance does early modern gender and sexuality have to today?

Final self-evaluation due December 7th.