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The Darker Side of the Renaissance: Literacy, Territoriality, and Colonization
by Walter Mignolo
University of Michigan Press, 1995
Paper: 978-0-472-08437-1 | Cloth: 978-0-472-10327-0
Library of Congress Classification F1409.7.M56 1995
Dewey Decimal Classification 980.013

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ABOUT THIS BOOK
Winner of the Modern Language Association's Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize.
The Darker Side of the Renaissance weaves together literature, semiotics, history, historiography, cartography, geography, and cultural theory to examine the role of language in the colonization of the New World.
Walter D. Mignolo locates the privileging of European forms of literacy at the heart of New World colonization. He examines how alphabetic writing is linked with the exercise of power, what role "the book" has played in colonial relations, and the many connections between writing, social organization, and political control. It has long been acknowledged that Amerindians were at a disadvantage in facing European invaders because native cultures did not employ the same kind of texts (hence "knowledge") that were validated by the Europeans. Yet no study until this one has so thoroughly analyzed either the process or the implications of conquest and destruction through sign systems.
Starting with the contrasts between Amerindian and European writing systems, Mignolo moves through such topics as the development of Spanish grammar, the different understandings of the book as object and text, principles of genre in history-writing, and an analysis of linguistic descriptions and mapping techniques in relation to the construction of territoriality and understandings of cultural space.
The Darker Side of the Renaissance will significantly challenge commonplace understandings of New World history. More importantly, it will continue to stimulate and provide models for new colonial and post-colonial scholarship.
". . . a contribution to Renaissance studies of the first order. The field will have to reckon with it for years to come, for it will unquestionably become the point of departure for discussion not only on the foundations and achievements of the Renaissance but also on the effects and influences on colonized cultures." -- Journal of Hispanic/ Latino Theology
Walter D. Mignolo is Professor in the Department of Romance Studies and the Program in Literature, Duke University.

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