In this article I describe my pedagogical approach to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish texts. I contend that by studying the cultural output of a remote historical period, modern students can examine mechanisms of exclusion without feeling compelled to defend their own identity or group. Racial dynamics are significantly different in the early modern period, when structural inequalities targeted religious minorities—the ‘conversos’ who were descendants of Jewish and Muslim inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula. Since students do not personally identify with either the hegemonic identity of the noble Spanish male nor with the converso, they are able to examine racial and gender inequities in a less emotionally charged milieu. Furthermore, the grafting of racial difference onto religious minority that occurs in this era invites examination of the socially constructed nature of race as an identity category. After examining the racial and gender inequities of the early modern era, students are able to discuss the dynamics of systems of exclusion that have persisted into the modern age and, I hope, feel better able to identify and examine modern forms of racial and gender discrimination. Moreover, by examining a historically distant time period, students recognize the historical contingence of ideas regarding what is ‘natural’ and of identity categories themselves.
"What can Renaissance Studies Teach us about Inclusivity?,"
Vol. 30, 83-92.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/headwaters/vol30/iss1/9