The Conquest
Fall 1999

This course is taught simultaneously at the following three universities:

The Conquest of Mexico / New York University
Tisch School of the Arts
Department of Performance Studies
Instructor: Diana Taylor
Assistant Julie Anne Taylor

A Conquista do Brasil / Universidade do Rio de Janeiro
Programa de Pos-Graduaçao em Teatro
Instructor: Zeca Ligiero
Assistants: Sylvia Heller and Cristiane Moura

La Conquista del Perú/ Pontíficia Universidad Católica del Perú
Facultad de Ciencias y Artes de la Comunicación
Coordinator: Luis Peirano Falconí
Assistant: Juan Salas

Codex Azcatitlan
Bibliotheque Nationale de France,
Paris 1995

Participants register here

If you are not a student registered
for this course, but would like more
information, please contact us.

The Conquest
Fall 1999, Course Description

Simultaneously taught at three universities in Brazil, Peru, and the United States, this course analyzes the politics of performance in the conquest of the Americas. From the time of the European "discovery" through the establishment of European colonial authority, we witness a radical change in social epistemology, as one cultural order came to partially eclipse another. Performance was instrumental to both indigenous and European colonial epistemology, and was a primary means through which both cultures maintained or contested social authority. We analyze the profound changes wrought o n these performance cultures in their encounter with the other, and examine how performance was strategically altered and used by various social groups in order to achieve their ends. Through a careful review of primary readings and critical texts, we wil l gain an appreciation of the complex function of performance in the political drama of new world conquest and colonization. Throughout, we remain attentive to the fact that the meanings of new world performance are relative and contextual, derived from t he different cultural, social, and ideological frames of reference which are brought to bear on the material.

The course begins with an introduction to SPECTACLE IN ITS PRE-COLUMBIAN CONTEXTS, in which we approach the meaning and power of performance from the vantage of pre-Columbian American cultures. Our first unit examines PRE-CONQUEST PERFORMANCE as a complex mode of social behavior central to the production and maintenance of social, political, and cosmic order. Unit 2 explores THE POLITICS AND POETICS OF ENCOUNTER, in which we approach the colonial encounter itself as a foundational performative moment. We compare how performance was differently apprehended by the European and Native American communities, reflecting distinct systems of signification and religious belief. Unit 3 examines the THEATRE OF CONQUEST, asking how theatre was used in the military an d spiritual conquest of the Americas. Finally, Unit 4 explores the THEATRICALITY AND COLONIAL AUTHORITY, analyzing the role of theatre and theatricality in the maintenance of European colonial authority and power.

This is the first course to be taught under the auspices of the new Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. As such, the course is being taught simultaneously at NYU, at the University of Rio de Janeiro, and at the Pontífica Universidad Católica del Peru in Lima. Each course follows a similarly structured syllabus, and shares key an essential reading list. However, each will have a different emphasis: NYU will focus on Mexico, UNI-RIO on Brazil, and the PUCP on Peru. The three courses will be c oordinated through this shared website, which houses course readings, translation software, and other material related to the course. In addition, students from all three countries are expected to participate in an ongoing discussion list, collaborations with students from the other institutions, and weekly live-chat sessions with instructors and students. For each unit of the course, we have organized one interactive web-based event.

If you are not a student registered for this course, but would like more information, please contact us.