This lecture explores various manifestations of monsters, the monstrous, and the disastrous (such as shipwreck) in the learned and popular spheres of early modern Spain and Portugal. It considers the hermeneutics of these forms of “deviance” in maritime expansion and exploration, and how such forms become situated within evolving ideas of authority and the imaginative dimensions of historiographic discourse. The paper also considers what the textual evidence of Iberian monstrosity and deviance may contribute to critical debates on these topics occuring in other literatures. Texts to be considered include the chronicles and histories of Gomes Eanes de Zurara (first historian of the Portuguese exploration of Africa), João de Barros, Antonio de Torquemada’s Jardín de flores curiosas, and popular pamphlet literature.
Sponsored by Renaissances, a research project in the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages Research Unit.