Editing Hernán Cortés’ Cartas de relación: A Contribution to the Digital Library of Old Spanish Texts
Although the field of Spanish philology has made strides in recent decades toward the goal of publishing faithful editions of Old Spanish texts, there is still a lack of reliable primary sources. This is especially troubling for the historical linguist, who, in the absence of an oral record, must recur to written sources for his or her data. In the area of Colonial Spanish studies, we are fortunate in the fact that the Spanish colonizing enterprise has left us with a plethora of documentation. Nevertheless, many of the original texts from the colonial period have only been available, if at all, in English translations that are often inaccurate, or in Spanish editions that were produced with lax editorial criteria, which then render the texts useless to the historical linguist who must find his/her evidence in orthographic cues. There is thus a critical need for faithfully edited primary sources of Colonial Spanish America. In the absence of reliable and accessible texts, we will be unable to further our knowledge of the language of the period, of its concomitant cultural manifestations, and of the history it tells.
Our long—term goal is to produce a corpus of philologically rigorous editions of Spanish Colonial texts and incorporate them into the Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies’ Digital Library of Old Spanish Texts, a publication medium that will enable interactive access to the texts in an on—line format. Our overall objective in this application is to publish electronic editions of the some of the seminal works that will form part of the larger corpus: the Segunda carta de relación and the Tercera carta de relación of Hernán Cortés, whose early print editions date from 1522 and 1523, respectively. Both are extant in original copies housed at the John Carter Brown Library (Brown University) in Providence, Rhode Island. The rationale for selecting these works as the first texts for our corpus is threefold. One, Cortés’ Cartas de relación, i.e. accounts that Cortés wrote to Emperor Carlos V reporting on the Conquest of Mexico, constitute some of the earliest Hispanic texts written in the Americas and are of recognized import to specialists in Colonial Spanish studies. Two, Cortés’ texts have been edited numerous times, however, to date, no philologically rigorous, nor electronically produced editions exist. Three, the fact that the texts are printed in Gothic minuscule typeface and are not manuscripts, facilitates the work of our corps of editors, who will be graduate students in Spanish, Department of Modern Languages, at UT Arlington.
The expected outcomes of this application will be the publication of two CD-ROM editions: Texts and Concordances of the ’Segunda carta de relación’ by Hernán Cortés (1522) and Texts and Concordances of the ’Tercera carta de relación’ by Hernán Cortés (1523); the first edition will be complete by the end of AY 2015-2016 and the second by the end of AY 2016-2017. The works will expand HSMS’ Colonial Spanish American Series and will ultimately be incorporated into Digital Library of Old Spanish Texts on-line, in a fully accessible and searchable format.
This would have a positive impact on both the field of Digital Humanities, as well as for specialists in fields related to Colonial Spanish America. Likewise, it would add to the curricular development in the Digital Humanities at UT Arlington and provide hands-on experience to graduate students. Finally, this project will support our larger goal—creating a corpus of faithful editions of Spanish Colonial texts to be incorporated into the Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies’ Digital Library of Old Spanish Texts.
Principal Investigator: Sonia Kania, Associate Professor, Spanish and Chair of the Department of Modern Languages
Co-Investigator: John O'Neill, Hispanic Society of America, New York