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Withdrawn Module: Saints and Sinners, Devils and Demons: Popular Religion in Early Modern Spanish America (AM422)

Please note that this module was available
from 2013 to 2014, but has since been
withdrawn and is no longer available.


Tutor: Dr Alice Brooke

This undergraduate final-year Advanced Option module will introduce students to the religious culture of Early Modern Spanish America through the study of a wide range of religious expressions and devotional practices. It will provide students with a grounding in the historical background to the study of religious culture in post-Conquest Spanish America, as well as an introduction to key concepts in the study of religious texts. The module will look at the pre-Conquest religious practices; the religious culture of the Spanish Counterreformation; the Encounter between Spanish and indigenous religious practices; evangelistion and conversion; the impact of the Inquisition; the rise of indigenous religious figures and saints; popular expressions of religious devotion; the lives of women religious; religious dissent and heterodoxy; and the legacy of early modern religious practices today. By grounding the module in a study of both Spanish and indigenous religious practices, it will give the students the tools to analyse and to questions notions of syncretism and hybridity, as well as to place questions of orthodoxy and heterodoxt into their historical context.

Each seminar will approach the given topic using a combination of primary sources (including autobiographical writings, poetry, drama, scientific treatises and inquisitional documents) with a grounding in the historiography of religion in the early modern period, with particular focus on the Americas. Attention will be paid to how religious practices emerge and develop, and how they are responded to by individuals and ecclesiastical authorities. It will address the methodological challenge of writing the history of a religious culture which transcends the boundaries between formalised religious groups, and in which the line between orthodoxy and heterodoxy is often difficult to draw.

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