Shipwrecks and Backlands: Getting Lost in Literature (COMPLIT 314A, ILAC 218, ILAC 318)
This course takes students on a journey through tales of getting lost in the Portuguese and Spanish empires. We will read harrowing stories of being caught adrift at sea and mystical interpretations of island desertion. The course begins with sea-dominated stories of Portuguese voyages to Asia, Africa, and Brazil then turns to how the Amazon and the sertão, or backlands, became a driving force of Brazilian literature. Official historians, poets, and novelists imbued the ocean and the backlands with romanticism, yet these spaces were the backdrop to slavery and conquest. Instead of approaching shipwreck and captivity narratives as eyewitness testimonies, as many have, we will consider how they produced 'the sea' and 'the wilderness' as poetic constructions in Western literature while also offering glimpses of the 'darker side' of Iberian expansion. Taught in English with all texts offered both in English and the original Portuguese or Spanish. Optional guest lectures in Portuguese.