For the first phase of the semester (up to Spring Break), you will submit reading reviews for each of three weeks (the only one not eligible is week 1). Each review should be three pages long. The idea is to demonstrate the depth and creativity of your reading and your ability to connect with previous readings. Please submit them to collab before the start of class for the week in question. Each of you will have a folder.
Margaret DavisProfessor Brian OwensbyHILA 3559: The Great Encounter29 January 2019Malintzin’s Choices and The Broken Spears: A Comparative Reading ReviewCamilla Townsend’s Malintzin’s Choices: An Indian Woman in the Conquest of Mexico and Miguel León-Portilla’s The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexicoboth offer accounts of the Spanish conquest of Mexico as it was led by Cortes and brought the downfall of Montezuma and his Aztec empire. However, these texts do so from differing perspectives which gives the reader a unique lense through which a highly mythologized but incredibly significant event in history. While León-Portilla presents the conquest of the new world as it was experienced by the Aztecs, Townsend grapples with the exchange between how the Spaniards and Aztecs experienced Mexican conquest differently by presenting the viewpoint of Cortes’ interpreter, Malintzin. León-Portilla’s The Broken Spears, weaves together its retelling of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico solely utilizing Native accounts which were written after the events described had transpired. This allows the story to paint the picture of savage Europeans bent on a destructive course against a cultivated Aztec culture. The story provides context of pre-Hispanic culture in the Aztec Empire. It goes on to recount the omens regarding, futile efforts against, encounters with, and final victory of Cortes and his allies, meanwhile combining native sources which give the reader insight into emotional reactions and supernatural interpretations which were unique to the Aztecs. The grief and shock of total defeat is evident in the elegies of Tenochtitlan which conclude the book. Some important factors for critically evaluating the book’s account of
Mexico’s conquest are that the accounts used in this book all are from the native point of view and are thus subject to their personal interpretation of the events as well as the fact that these sources had to be translated from Nahuatl to Spanish and then to English and have possibly lost dimensions of meaning in this process. However, León-Portilla is careful to make his sources and their shortcomings or exclusive insight known so the reader can see the interaction of a rangeof perspectives.