Updated bibliography by Adam Kaufman 3/10
- Alcocer, Rudyard. "Going in Circles: Spanish American Identity and the Circular Motif in Nicolas Echevarria's Cabeza de Vaca." Literature/Film Quarterly 36.4 (2008): 250-58.
- Alcocer discusses what criteria constitute a "Spanish American" and asserts the circle plays a significant role in the film in relation to Spanish American identity, the importance it plays on all those of Spanish-speaking family or ancestry. Alcocer cites Richard Rodriguez's Days of Obligation when he remarks, "Is it in the nature of Indians . . . that we wait around to be discovered?" Alcocer claims Cabeza de Vaca's represents the ceaseless conflict between European and Native ancestry, only four and a half centuries later, the conflict is an internal one. Cabeza de Vaca has come to form the ultimate hero, an archetypal leader for multicultural tolerance, an altruistic conquistador as well as a primitive anthropologist. However, Alcocer quotes Santiago Juan-Navarro in regards to the critic's assertion that the actual de Vaca could hardly fit into the shoes of the mythological idol he has become. Alcocer switches topics to discuss the circle and possible implications. He explains the circle embodies human existence -- there can be no escape from who we are because we inevitably return to ourselves (what that may be). There is never a clear line during Cabeza de Vaca's transformation between Spaniard and native. Rather, he experiences a more fluid transition, best represented by the omnipresent circle. Towards the end of the film (chronologically), Cabeza de Vaca is a man torn from his identity, illustrated through his gaunt features and uncontrollable weeping. His trauma is still felt today by the millions who inhabit the Hispanic world, struggling to reconcile their Spanish and American selves.
- Alvaray, Luisela. "Imagi(ni)ng Indigenous Spaces: Self and Other in Latin America." Film & History 34.2 (2004): 58-64.
- Alvaray shares an awareness with Walter Benjamin of the possibility to erase history simply by not thinking about it. She discusses the potentially dangerous notion that by not making issues of the past topics of the present, that history may become irretrievable. She uses the films Cabeza de Vaca and Jericó to support her thesis, stating history lies in the hands of the hegemonic. These stories give insight into what history may have been like if it had been told through the disempowered. Alvaray argues that even today the seemingly interdependent nations of Central and South America are merely relics of the post-colonial way of life. Only man's undying quest for knowledge will stand testimony for his desire to deconstruct the old, formulaic sense of government and perceived control and hear the voices of the misrepresented. Alvaray adamantly stands by her proposal and challenges others to shake off the chains of post-structuralism and embrace histories outside of a textbook. Using the two aforementioned films, she compares the possibilities of re-imagining the past through the eyes of the discriminated, in hope of enlightening skeptics to past and current grievances.
- Bishop, Morris. The Odyssey of Cabeza de Vaca. New York: Century,1933.
- Bishop's book is a biographical sketch of the life of Cabeza de Vaca that includes a retelling of Cabeza de Vaca's Relacion y Comentarios. Bishop sets his story in a historical context and includes a variety of illustrations including maps, the Cabeza de Vaca family coat of arms, and a facsimile of Cabeza de Vaca's legal appeal after his arrest. Bishop writes his work in the style of a non-fiction novel but takes most of his material from primary sources and historical documents.
- Bruce-Novoa, Juan. "Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca." The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter et al. 2nd ed. Vol.1. Lexington: Heath, 1994. 129-39.
- Bruce-Novoa's focus in this essay is in affirming Cabeza de Vaca's Relacion as "a fundamental text of Chicano literature" (4). He suggests a dual analysis of the work to affirm the meaning of Cabeza de Vaca's place in the Chicano literary heritage. First, he asserts the need for a "refocus" of traditional critical analytical approaches. Second, he says that Chicano critics need to "demonstrate how the text exerts a creative force on Chicano letters" (4). Bruce-Novoa is also concerned that the defining characteristics of Cabeza de Vaca's text are "in one way or another, our [Chicano] very own" (4). He believes that Cabeza de Vaca's experiences in the New World changed him forever and that his "American alterability distinguished him from other Spaniards" (16). Juan-Novoa concludes by asserting that Cabeza de Vaca's attributes are Chicano and Relacion represents Cabeza de Vaca's " metamorphosis" as a "founding" text of Chicano culture and literature (5).
- Della Flora, Anthony. "Film Follows Life of Cabeza de Vaca." Albuquerque Journal 14 June 1998: H2.
- Della Flora's article reports on the screening of Cabeza de Vaca at the University of New Mexico's Media Arts Program, "Spain and the Americas: Mutual Cinematic Perceptions." Della Flora interviews Nicolas Echevarria the director of Cabeza de Vaca. He discovers that Echevarria chose Cabeza de Vaca as the subject for his film because the story of the conquistador-turned-shaman is considered an exception to the notion that the history of the conquest of the New World is a story about the conflict between Spanish conquistadors and native peoples. Echevarria says that the film "is one of the few examples of the Spaniards, that after living with the Indians, took the Indians' side. They became defenders of the Indians' cause, instead of continuing to support the conqueror's cause." Echevarria points out that the film's depiction of the transformation of Cabeza de Vaca into a mystic during his eight-year journey in the American wilderness "is the main story of the film." He stresses that the film's main theme is "the creation of a new man -- a man who is not European, who is not Indian, who is right in the middle." The article ends with a quote by Echevarria suggesting that Cabeza de Vaca depicts "the beginning of the newborn American or Latin American."
- Ebel, Mark T. Five Films of Pre-Columbian Culture, The Discovery of the New World, and the Spanish Conquest. Diss. Florida State U, 1996. Ann Arbor: UMI, 1997.
- This study focuses on five films from three continents that were produced and released around the time of the celebration of the quincentennial of Christopher Columbus in 1992. The main focus of the book is on three Latin American films -- Jerico (Venezuela), Retorno a Aztlan (Mexico), and Cabeza de Vaca (Mexico-Spain). The author also examines two films about Columbus -- 1492: Conquest of Paradise (Britain-France-Spain)) and Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (U.S.). Ebel notes that the three Latin American films are all first feature films of directors who were documentarians, and both Cabeza de Vaca and Jerico are films about first contact between European and Natives. The writer devotes an entire chapter in the book to Cabeza de Vaca. Ebel summarizes the plot of the movie and traces briefly the historical background on which the film is based. Ebel notes that the film relies primarily on visual images to tell the story and suggests that the scant dialogue in the film distances the audience and "adds to the viewer's sense of discomfort or alienation" (85). The writer explores the ways in which the film offers a "message of universality" in its depiction of Cabeza de Vaca's "combination of religious virtue and adaptability to Indian religious beliefs' (131).
- Gordon, Richard. "Exoticism and National Identity in Cabeza de Vaca and Como Era Gostoso O Meu Frances [How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman]." Torre de Papel 10.1 (2000): 77-119.
- "Cabeza de Vaca's display and subsequent critique of exoticism and Como era's appropriation of exoticism within a strategy of self-exoticizing are central" to both films. "To what degree do the films run the risk of perpetuating negative stereotypes by concurrently activating and de-activating exoticism? Are the films' arguments ultimately consistent or contradictory?"
- Gordon, Richard. "Exoticizing the Nation in Cabeza de vaca and Come era gostoso o meu frances." Cannibalizing the Colony: Cinematic Adaptations of Colonial Literature in Mexico and Brazil West Lafayette: Purdue UP, 2009. 47-76.
- Gordon's main focus is exactly as stated in the title: exoticism. Upon first viewing, many were critical of Echevarría's overly sexual depiction of a hostile tribe joining in what appeared to be a sacrificial ritual. Gordon defends the director's choice and explains its usage was intended to be satirical. This is similar to Brazilian filmmaker Pereira dos Santos's exaggerated and ironic portrayal of cannibalism in How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman. Both capitalize on frequently used caricatures of natives that are often inaccurate and offensive. So if the viewer was at all upset or disgusted with the representation of these indigenous peoples, then the director succeeded, states Gordon. Both pieces, however, use eroticism to explore different aspects of native culture. Dos Santos intertwines exoticism with cannibalism but otherwise depicts the natives as completely normal, almost to the point where the audience would sooner associate with man-eating Indians rather than European explorers. Gordon fears the simultaneous spurning and support of exoticism may alienate many viewers and perpetuate negative stereotypes. He stipulates upon serious examination, one can view any aspect outside of the original narratives as intentional and indicative of the films' ideological perspectives.
- Hershfield, Joanne. "Assimilation and Identification in Nicolas Echevarria's Cabeza de Vaca." Wide Angle 16 (1995): 7-24.
- Hershfield 's article traces briefly the history of Mexican cinema before offering her central argument that the film Cabeza de Vaca "proposes a critical examination of conventional narrativizations of the Conquest" by dramatizing "the production of a New World Identity through the process of assimilation and identification with the Other" (9). She notes that Cabeza de Vaca's captivity by native tribes forces him to become "the Other" in a position of subservience to indigenous tribes (9). Hershfield claims that Cabeza de Vaca is a film that meets the specific Mexican need for reinterpretation of the country's past history in order to "define [Mexican] national identity" or "essential Mexicanness (11). The film's depiction of Cabeza de Vaca's self-discovery during his journey into Mexico "deconstructs the historical logic of the Spanish discovery of America" according to Hershfield (15). The film suggests that Mexican identity is not merely the result of the biological bonding of Spanish and Native men and women but a complex process that involves "various dialogic processes of everyday interactions between selves and others" (21). Hershfield concludes that the movie is an example of Mexican cinema's contribution to the ongoing "search for an 'authentic' national identity in [Mexican] social and cultural discourse" (16).
- Hickerson, Nancy P. "Rituals of Confrontation: Cabeza de Vaca and the Texas Indians." Intertexts 1.2 (1997): 169-76.
- Hickerson discusses the erroneous interpretation that the Spanish people were welcomed into the Native world as Gods and showered with gifts as a superior people. Rather, it was common practice to shower all travelers with gifts as a sign of hospitality, respect, and hope that the favor would be exchanged later. Cabeza de Vaca's state as a healing Shaman, not his Spanish heritage, would also command great respect. Hickerson warns against perceiving Cabeza de Vaca as a "conqueror," pointing out several instances in which he successfully assimilates to such a degree that the Natives viewed him and his comrades as "their" Spaniards -- Spaniards not associated with the Christian conquerors.
- Howard, David A. Conquistador in Chains: Cabeza de Vaca and the Indians of the Americas. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 1997.
- Howard's book focuses on Cabeza de Vaca's treatment of Native Americans during his period of wandering the American Southwest and his term as governor of Rio de la Plata. Howard suggests in his preface that Cabeza de Vaca's notions of justice and liberty towards the native were "entirely Spanish," and, despite good intentions, he was "an imperialist who imagined that the policies of the government of Spain might be achieved in America by just and humane means under Spanish law" (xi). Howard, however, does set Cabeza de Vaca's policies apart from the generally cruel, tyrannical, and brutal actions of most of the Spanish conquistadors towards the natives of the Americas. Cabeza de Vaca's attitudes towards the natives, according to Howard, is a result of his eight-year sojourn among the natives from 1528-1536 after the failure of the Narvaez expedition and his reaction to the abuses by other conquistadors attempting to subjugate natives according to Spanish law. Howard offers his analysis of Cabeza de Vaca's policies on primary sources relating to the Narvaez expedition and the colonization of Rio de la Plata.
- Juan-Navarro, Santiago. "Constructing Cultural Myths: Cabeza de Vaca in Contemporary Hispanic Criticism, Theater, and Film." A Twice-Told Tale: Reinventing the Encounter in Iberian/Iberian American Literature and Film. Ed. Santiago Juan-Navarro and Theodore Robert Young. Newark: U of Delaware P., 2001. 67-79.
- Juan-Navarro wishes to understand the origin of the myth that has become Cabeza de Vaca and how a man seemingly born of circumstance has gained the attention of dozens of playwrights and historians. Cabeza de Vaca, a conquistador who was appointed the title governor of Río de la Plate by King Charles V, has aroused the interest of readers and critics of all ethnicities and backgrounds. Juan-Navarro notes the "revisionist" movement that gained momentum in the years leading up to the Columbus quincentennial and views the film bearing Cabeza de Vaca's name just another piece of fan fiction, regardless of the lengths taken to ensure anthropologic accuracy. From Cabeza de Vaca's "humble" rebellion against Narváez to his newfound shamanism, Juan-Navarro blames de Vaca's distorted account in Naufragios and subsequent historians adding upon his imaginative fabrications. As critic Jacques Lafaye claimed, "It is no longer Álvar Núñez who has made the miracles, it is the miracles which have made him." Despite Juan-Navarro's adamancy regarding Cabeza de Vaca's omission of unflattering events, he concludes the birth of "border identity" is the one triumph of the expedition – not being from anywhere and thus being from everywhere.
- Kraniauskas, John. "Cabeza de Vaca." Travesia (Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies) 1.2 (1992): 113-22.
- Kraniauskas commentates on fellow author Carlos Fuentes' defense of Bernal Diaz's The Conquest of New Spain, an eyewitness account of Cortés's occupation of Mexico. Fuentes's not so subtle praise of Diaz's epic novel stems from what Kraniauskas calls a desire for "happy reconciliations." Fuentes's avid support of a utopian society may be too idealistic, but Kraniauskas agrees the present bears the inherent responsibility of remembering the past. Kraniauskas, however, asks "Whose past?" The indigenous peoples of America did not disappear overnight, and Kraniauskas attempts to assemble a history for those who can no longer tell it themselves. He searches Echevarría's film for religious symbolism, longing to find a link between the adaptation and the account. Kraniauskas focuses on the movie's efforts to decode Cabeza de Vaca's La Relación, viewing the author as a man willing to tell the truth but afraid of the implication of what he has learned. He possesses the power of two faiths but realizes spreading such knowledge would mean damnation from his own kind. Kraniauskas suggests Echevarría's purpose is to teach the audience how to read through the text and see de Vaca's true integration into a lost world.
- Liparulo, Steven P. "'From Fear to Wisdom': Augustinian Semiotics and Self-Fashioning in Cabeza de Vaca's Relacíon." Arizona Quarterly 62.2 (2006): 1-26.
- Liparulo strikes out against the frustratingly restrictive and reductive religious interpretations of Cabeza de Vaca's journeys in the New World. Liparulo demonstrates how Cabeza de Vaca's story falls in line with the lives of St. Paul and St. Augustine, while still not necessarily abandoning the traditional view of Cabeza de Vaca as a Christlike figure. Liparulo moves the religious narrative of Cabeza de Vaca's story from victorious to one of suffering, anguish, and ultimate redemption; in doing so, Liparulo illuminates how Cabeza de Vaca can simultaneously embody multiple narratives and discourses, and to restrict our thinking to a single one would ignore a greater message to be found in his life. Liparulo points to the penultimate chapter of Relacion as the prime example of Cabeza de Vaca's many identities: during his encounter with the French ships, de Vaca is both the St. Paul figure (sufferings worth celebrating because to suffer for the church is to come close to the Passion of Christ) and the St. Augustine figure (this encounter is included in Relacion because Cabeza de Vaca interpreted this event as symbolic and important in his own faith). Ultimately Liparulo urges the reader not to abandon previous readings of Cabeza de Vaca in favor of others but to hold these readings together and simultaneously in order to gain a fuller and richer knowledge of him.
- Maciel, David R. "El Imperio de la Fortuna: Mexico's Contemporary Cinema, 1985-1992. The Mexican Cinema Project. Ed. Chon A. Noriega and Stephen Ricci. Austin: U of Texas P, 1994. 33-44.
- Maciel's essay offers an overview and interpretation of contemporary Mexican cinema and examines the factors that have led to a "renaissance of Mexican cinema" (33). Maciel notes that the appointment in 1989 of Ignacio Duran as director of the Mexican Institute of Cinematography (IMCINE) by President Carlos Salinas de Gortari resulted in "a new era in Mexican cinema" (34). Duran encouraged co-productions with foreign investors in order to supplement limited Mexican financial resources and began a major promotion of foreign exhibitions of Mexican films. Cabeza de Vaca is offered as an example of a Mexican and Spanish co-production. Maciel notes that the film became "the official film of IMCINE" which promoted the film aggressively in foreign markets. The article traces director Nicolas Echevarria's ten-year effort to complete the film. Maciel says that Cabeza de Vaca offers "a revisionist view of the conquest and the colonial legacy of Spain in Mexico" and that Echevarria attempts "to portray the perspective and world vision of the indigenous people" (39).
- McGann, Thomas. "The Ordeal of Cabeza de Vaca." American Heritage (December 1960): 78-82.
- McGann outlines in detail the ill-fated Narváez expedition, whose five boats and six hundred men met their fate off the coast of Florida. After landing in Cuba, Captain Pánfilo de Narváez set sail towards Florida with three hundred men in search of gold, but he found only hostile natives and new diseases. After a period of starvation, the party decided to build boats out of horsehide and, God willing, make it back to Cuba. Unfortunately for the dwindling population of sailors, hurricane winds and wood rot led to the drowning of most of the expedition, including Narváez himself. Before his end, Cabeza de Vaca's wrote of an altercation involving the number of healthy men on Narváez's boat versus the sick and dying on Cabeza de Vaca's. Despite his pleas, Narváez refused to trade any men, or even tie the rafts together. That was the last Cabeza de Vaca ever saw of the captain. Several days later, their vessel crashed off the coast of Texas. All subsequent attempts to escape and reach the Spanish settlements in Mexico failed, and the survivors were forced to winter on the island. Of all the men who made it to Texas, only four would survive the eight-year period between estrangement and rescue. Cabeza de Vaca, after separating from his crew, began to integrate into Indian society and traveled among various native tribes throughout the Mexican outback.
- Restrepo, Luis Fernando. "Primitive Bodies in Latin American Cinema: Nicolas Echevarria's Cabeza de Vaca." Primitivism and Identity in Latin America. Ed. Erik Camayd-Freixas and Jose Eduardo Gonzalez. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 2000. 189-208.
- "In this essay I will focus on Cabeza de Vaca's process of inscribing Amerindians in the realm of the primitive. The film primitivizes the Other in several ways. It's main theme is the hero's discovery of his primitive Other. Also, the Other is turned 'primitive' through a film language that focuses on the body."
- "Retelling in Modern Media." Americas 48 (1996): 27.
- This article by an anonymous author offers an overview of the wide variety of artists, authors, poets, musicians, film, and screen writers who have represented the story of Cabeza de Vaca in media. The article notes Echevarria's film Cabeza de Vaca and the published screenplay by Echevarria and Guillermo Sheriden. The writer suggests that Cabeza de Vaca's story may be one inspiration for the Captain John Smith story on which the recent Disney film Pocohantas is based. Works about Cabeza de Vaca by poets Clinton DeWitt and Walter Henderson, music composer George Antheil, painter Ted De Grazia, and writers Haniel Long, Morris Bishop, John Upton Terrell, Daniel Pranger, and Henry Miller are described.
- Walter, Krista. "Filming the Conquest: Cabeza de Vaca and the Spectacle of History." Literature/Film Quarterly 30.2 (2002): 140-45.
- "What I wish to examine . . . is the film's . . . distinctly postmodern view of history, Native Americans, and cultural identity in general. Replicating the strategy of American films about the Vietnam war . . . Cabeza de Vaca envisions a kind of cultural redemption from the 'horror' of conquest via a familiar, Western male hero paradoxically empowered through his loss of self."
Henderson, Walter Brooks Drayton. The New Argonautica: An Heroic Poem in Eight Cantos of the Voyage Among the Stars of the Immortal Spirits of Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Drake, Ponce De Leon and Nunez de Vaca. New York: Macmillian, 1927.
Lopez, Kimberle S. "Naked in the Wilderness: The Transculturation of Cabeza de Vaca in Abel Posse's El largo atardecer del caminante." A Twice-Told Tale: Reinventing the Encounter in Iberian/Iberian American Literature and Film. Ed. Santiago Juan-Navarro and Theodore Robert Young. Newark: U of Delaware P, 2001. 149-65.
Nogueira, Claudia Barbosa. "Journeys of Redemption: Discoveries, Re-discoveries, and Cinematic Representations of the Americas." Ph.D. diss. University of Maryland, 2006. http://drum.lib.umd.edu/bitstream/1903/3372/1/umi-umd-3182.pdf
- Cabeza de Vaca de Nicolas Echevarria http://www.monteuve.com/pag/peliculas/pcl.html [Archived]
- A Spanish language site that contains brief information on the film Cabeza de Vaca and actor Juan Diego who portrays Cabeza de Vaca in the film. It also contains links to the Instituto Mexicano de Cinematographia (IMCINE) website and several other Cabeza de Vaca websites.
- IMCINE Homepage http://www.imcine.gob.mx/cabeza.html [Archived]
- This page is on the the Spanish language website for the Instituto Mexicano de Cinematographia (IMCINE). It includes general information on the film Cabeza de Vaca, a short synopsis of the life of Cabeza de Vaca, and information on film director Nicolas Echevarria.
- Juan-Navarro, Santiago. "Between El Dorado and Armageddon: Utopia and Apocalypse in the Films of the Encounter." Delaware Review of Latin American Studies 6.2 (2006). http://www.udel.edu/LASP/Vol6-2Juan-Navarro.htm
- "At the close of the second millennium, the Quincentennial celebrations played an important role in rethinking the Discovery and Conquest in light of utopia and apocalypse. Many of the colonialist clichés of previous celebrations were reversed, giving rise to a radically different vision. . . . The world of cinema has not escaped from this revisionism. Films such as Orinoko: Nuevo Mundo (1984), Amérika: Terra Incógnita (1988), Jericó (1991), Cabeza de Vaca (1991), Retorno a Aztlán (1991) and La otra conquista (1998), explore the theme of the Encounter between two worlds from an ideological stance that questions the versions inherited from the past. These films react not only against the official history, but also against the neocolonialist discourse of earlier films."
- Mexican Film Resource Page http://www.wam.umd.edu/~dwilt/mfb.html
- This page includes a variety of Spanish language links relating to Mexican cinema, radio, and television. A variety of educational, government, and commercial sites are included, including a link to IMCINE.