In 1738, Alexander Cruden when referring to the power of the visual image stated: "All agree that it is an admirable invention: To paint speech, and speak to the eyes, and by tracing out characters in different forms to give color and body to thoughts." Visual images have historically been used by many societies as forms of expression and constructions of reality. They have functioned as instruments to capture and explain the world or humans' own perceptions of their surroundings. They have helped to preserve cultural history as well as the memory of the past. However, visual images always conceal the potential for interpretation in different manners, depending upon who is producing the image, why it is produced, who is observing it, where it is located and to what type audience it is directed. As Gillian Rose argues, "All visual representations are made in one way or another, and the circumstances of their productions may contribute towards the effect they have" (17).

This graduate seminar will pay attention to the crucial role that visual images played in the conquest and colonization of the so-called "New World." We will discuss the manner in which indigenous groups, Africans, Europeans and other castas pictured and visualized their existence in the colonial world through written words or visual systems of recording information. We will examine how visual images offered an account of the practices of negotiation, domination and resistance that were involved in the process of the conquest and colonization in Spanish America by becoming an intrinsic part of the identity construction of the colonial subject. We will focus on how space, place, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and the colonial body are delineated through visual images that aimed to convey a message more accessible to a multilingual society. Examining the colonial world as it was constructed in written and non-written texts offer a clear idea of the manner in which visual images intersect with political power. Focusing on engravings, frontispieces, drawings, and maps that accompanied many colonial texts as well indigenous visual systems of recording including codices, and also colonial paintings, we would try to determine the cultural and political agendas that marked the inclusion and creation of such images as a way to convey a visual message. A part of the course will also be devoted to theoretical discussions pertaining to visual culture, space and colonialism. Class will be conducted in Spanish.

Among the authors to be included are: Christopher Columbus, Gonzalo Fernéandez de Oviedo y Valdés, sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Juan Ignacio de Molina, Guaman Poma de Ayala, Antonio de Valadés, Jorge Juan, Antonio de Ulloa, among others. Theoretical readings include: Gillian Rose, Walter Mignolo, Doreen Massey, Elizabeth Grosz, J.B. Harley, Henri Lefebvre, Charles W.J. Withers, Santiago Castro-Gómez, and others.