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Global Students, Global Writers: Education and Literature for and by Non-Europeans in the Early Colonial Iberian World (1492-1620)

Version 2 2024-03-07, 18:24
Version 1 2023-12-21, 07:51
posted on 2024-03-07, 18:24 authored by Carlos Diego Arenas Pacheco

Traditional histories of education in the colonial Iberian world have long focused on celebrating European missionary educators and their pedagogical and literary accomplishments. This dissertation tells the story from another perspective: that of the thousands of non-European students and scholars who encountered European education and literature in colonial schools supported by Spanish and Portuguese missionaries. Through an interdisciplinary examination of documents in over ten languages, including school regulations, ABC books, Latin grammars, and texts authored by Non-European scholars, this dissertation offers a Bildungsroman-like study of the educational experiences and literary output of non-Europeans starting from childhood and early literacy education and ending in the blossoming of individual authors. The main regions covered by this dissertation include Granada, Kongo, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Southern India, Macau, the Philippines, and Japan.

The first half of this dissertation focuses on the deep history of residential schooling for non-European boys and girls. This first half demonstrates that this educational system originated and developed in the early Iberian colonies. Moreover, it argues that residential schooling, with its focus on control over the bodies and minds of students, was intellectually supported by Humanist educational theories. Finally, it offers a critical engagement with school schedules and textbooks as tools of subjectivity formation.

While colonial missionaries used education to exert complete control over the bodies and minds of colonized subjects, the second half of the dissertation argues that non-European scholars used their education for their own literary goals. This half of the dissertation engages with the text and history of the Nahuatl and Japanese translations of Thomas à Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ to demonstrate that missionary translations, often credited to European missionaries, were the work of non-European writers. Finally, it engages with the writings of Chimalpahin, Guaman Poma, Tomás Pinpin, and Fabian Fucan to argue that individual authorship, as one of the hallmarks of modern literature, was not developed exclusively by European authors.

This dissertation seeks to contribute to discussions in multiple fields, including Iberian studies, world literature, translation studies, literacy studies, and Indigenous studies.


Defense Date


CIP Code

  • 30.1301

Research Director(s)

W. Martin Bloomer


  • Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Level

  • Doctoral Dissertation

OCLC Number


Program Name

  • Medieval Studies

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