Naked And Alone In A Strange New World: Early Modern Captivity And Its Mythos In Ibero-American Consciousness

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Title: Naked And Alone In A Strange New World: Early Modern Captivity And Its Mythos In Ibero-American Consciousness
Author: Allen, Benjamin Mark
Abstract: This study compares and contrasts early modern (1500 - 1650 ) American captivity narratives of Jerónimo de Aguilar , Gonzalo Guerrero , Juan Ortiz , Cabeza de Vaca , Hans Stade , Hernando d'Escalante Fontaneda , Fray Francisco de Avila , and Francisco Núñez de Pineda y Bascuñán . Although originally touted as "true histories ," they should be seen primarily as literary works imitative of popular heroic lore that suffused 16th -century Iberia and Europe . Because the chroniclers penned the narratives years after the experience , subjective memory supplanted objective empiricism . The narrators employed acceptable literary conventions highly imbued with Christian and medieval ritual and imagery to express physical and mental rites of passage . Considering the mythical archetypes and that very little factual corroboration exists , this dissertation argues that the narratives should not be regarded as reliable records of historical events . They are , however , cultural artifacts that are useful in understanding the larger psycho -social dynamics of the transatlantic world ; thus , they aid construction of a histoire des mentalités that contributes to an understanding of the mythos that defined the captivity experience as a microcosm of the larger play between European and American peoples . Through a textual -contextual analysis premised on structural , functional and psychoanalytic theories of myth and ritual , the study posits that the first -person narratives evidence the captives' negotiation of the dichotomous European and Amerindian cultures in attempts to survive and gain acceptance . The writing of the narrative served as a rite of passage back to Christendom and as an expression of the spiritual essence of the ordeal that defied description . It can also be demonstrated that other contemporary authors , like Garcilaso de la Vega , el Inca , employed mythical convention to make sense of captivity experiences for the reader and to embellish Spanish exploits so as to justify imperial prerogatives . While contemporary narrators cast their characters as Christian heroes , post -colonial Latino authors celebrated some of the early captives as embodiments of mestizaje considering their rejection of "Spanish -ness" and embrace of "Indian -ness ." This juxtaposition of contemporary with post -colonial treatments of the early modern captivity sagas further substantiates that , because of their mythical aura , the narratives offer unique insight into individual and cultural mentalities , but they are not reliable records of what actually happened during the captivity experience .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /10106 /1038
Date: 2008-09-17

Citation

Naked And Alone In A Strange New World: Early Modern Captivity And Its Mythos In Ibero-American Consciousness. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /10106 /1038 .

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