WesMaps - Wesleyan University Catalog 2017-2018          Summer Session       Home       Archive       Search
Exploration, Conquest, and Insurrection: The History of the Amazon 1542 to Present

HIST 322
Fall 2017
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: LAST 322
Certificates: The Study of Education

Dark, wild, primitive, Edenic and infinitely wealthy: the Amazon has been many things in many times and places. From the disgruntled Spanish conquistadors who first traversed the jungle's rivers in search of cinnamon, to the 19th-century scientific expeditions of enlightened explorers, to contemporary environmentalists, the Amazon remains a mysterious object of inquiry. It still incites the imagination of travelers, filmmakers, and politicians alike. This seminar investigates the multiple ways in which the Amazon and its peoples have been portrayed in chronicles, scientific writings, and film. We will confront the historical circumstances, motives and ideologies that prompted each of these depictions and how, in turn, they shaped the colonization of the region. We will pay close attention to genre, and to themes such as cross-cultural encounter, imperialism, and the representation of indigenous societies. We begin in 1542 with the chronicle of Francisco de Orellana. As the first Spaniard to navigate the entire length of the Amazon River, Orellana influenced how Europeans imagined the jungle well into the 19th century. Subsequently, we apply readings in history of science and anthropological theory to Claude LÚvi-Strauss account of Amazonian tribes in Tristes Tropiques (1955). Students will then conduct independent research into a representation of their interest. Possible topics include scientific expeditions in the region, the jungle and modernization, global warming, or human rights. Finally, we will reflect on the Amazon as a metaphor for the human condition with Werner Herzog's film Fitzcarraldo (1982).
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS HIST
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (EDST-MN)(HIST-MN)(HIST)
Past Enrollment Probability: 75% - 89%

Last Updated on OCT-22-2017
Contact wesmaps@wesleyan.edu to submit comments or suggestions. Please include a url, course title, faculty name or other page reference in your email ? Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, 06459