In this course, we will delve “Into the World of the Book” in four ways. First, we will extensively and closely read Don Quixote, parts I (1605) and II (1615). If you have always wanted to read this first—and in the minds of many, best—novel, this is your chance. Second, we will hone in on the many books that populate the narrative—chivalric romances, Arabic manuscripts, short stories read aloud at inns, wax tablets found on mountaintops, books being constructed in print shops—and analyze those passages in connection to broader themes. Third, we will learn about book production and circulation in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain and Europe, historically grounding Don Quixote in its original context. Finally, our setting, Word Up Books, a community bookstore in Washington Heights, will inspire and inform our discussions about books and the social, inciting us to consider Don Quixote’s contemporary relevance and parallels.
In addition to reading Don Quixote, some secondary critical readings will be assigned. Students may choose to read the novel in English or Spanish; both will be available for purchase at Word Up Books. The class discussion will be in English, but may be conducted in Spanish or bilingually depending on the make-up of the group. Financial assistance to take this course may be available upon request.