Approaches to Teaching the Writings of Bartolome de Las Casas

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The work of Bartolom de Las Casas poses a number of challenges in the classroom: students need help seeing the relevance of a sixteenth-century Dominican missionary to their lives, understanding his colonial-imperial context, and negotiating the apparent contradictions among his evangelizing and his varying stances on Indian and black slavery in the New World. The essays gathered in this volume show teachers how to introduce and engage with Las Casas--one of the first voices to criticize European treatment of the native populations of the Americas and crucial today to studies of imperialism, colonialism, and human rights--in a wide range of courses, undergraduate and graduate. Like all volumes in the Approaches series, this collection includes a convenient survey of original and supplementary materials and a comprehensive array of classroom tactics. The first group of essays incorporates Las Casas into the interdisciplinary classroom, while the next group focuses on teaching the Las Casas text most widely used in literature courses: the Brev sima relaci n de la destrucci n de las Indias, a dramatic, largely firsthand view of colonial violence. The essays that follow explore the Spanish friar's letters, treatises, and petitions to the Crown; locate his connection to such broader issues as independence movements in Latin America, inter-European politics, abolition, and human rights; and suggest ways of teaching him alongside colonial figures such as Christopher Columbus and within the literary traditions of a variety of nations and languages.