David A. Boruchoff

Retired as of June 30, 2015

Associate Professor
David.Boruchoff [at] mcgill.ca (e-mail)


David A. Boruchoff was educated at Harvard University, receiving the degrees of A.B. magna cum laude (History & Literature), A.M. and Ph.D. (Romance Languages & Literatures). Prior to coming to McGill University, he taught at Harvard and Yale Universities, the University of Michigan, and Bates College. At McGill University, he has chaired the Department of Hispanic Studies (1994-98) and the interdisciplinary program in Latin-American and Caribbean Studies (1992-2003), and was associate member of the graduate program in Comparative Literature (1990-1992).

Professor Boruchoff specializes in the literature, historiography, and intellectual history of sixteenth and seventeenth-century Spain and Latin America, as well as the broader Atlantic world.

In relation to early modern Europe, his research and teaching address a diverse range of topics, including Humanism; the historiography of the Catholic Monarchs; Inquisitorial culture; the invention of the novel; the writings of Miguel de Cervantes (especially Don Quijote and Persiles), Francisco de Quevedo, Fernando del Pulgar, and Peter Martyr; movements of religious dissent and reform; early modern inventions; and the editorial practices of the maritime historians Richard Eden and Richard Hakluyt.

In relation to the colonial Americas, Professor Boruchoff has focused on the military and spiritual conquest of New Spain (Mexico); the teleology of discovery; missionary and religious endeavor in New Spain, New England, and the Andes; and the interrelationship of natural history and moral philosophy. Of particular interest are the writings of Hernán Cortés, Bernal Díaz del Castillo, Bernardino de Sahagún, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, Christopher Columbus, Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Dr. Francisco Hernández, Guaman Poma de Ayala, Martín de Murúa, and José de Acosta.

He is currently completing a book titled Renaissance Exploration and the Invention of a New World and a critical edition, English translation, and study of the recently discovered manuscript of the Vida y sucesos de la Monja Alférez (The Life and Exploits of the Lieutenant Nun).

Professor Boruchoff serves on the editorial boards of Anuario de Estudios Cervantinos, Latin American Research Review, and eHumanista/Cervantes, and is a member of the executive councils of the Cervantes Society of America and the Renaissance Society of America. He is a contributing correspondent of Anuario Bibliográfico Cervantino and Cervantes International Bibliography Online, and was until recently book review editor of Latin American Research Review, the journal of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA).

Professor Boruchoff’s research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research of McGill University, the John Carter Brown Library, the Center for Renaissance Studies of the Newberry Library, the Ministry of External Affairs (Spain), the National Endowment for the Humanities (USA), and the Tinker Foundation. He was a co-applicant of the project “Making Publics: Media, Markets and Association in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1700,” funded by a Major Collaborative Research Initiative (MCRI) grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


Select Publications

El Abencerraje de Antonio de Villegas: una revisión neocristiana.” Lo converso: orden imaginario y realidad en la cultura española (siglos XIV-XVII). Ed. Ruth Fine, Michèle Guillemont and Juan Diego Vila. Madrid: Editorial Iberoamericana; Frankfurt: Vervuert, 2013. 187-216.

“Los malvados cristianos del teatro de Cervantes: un debate intestino.” eHumanista/ Cervantes 1 (2012): 643-63.

“The Three Greatest Inventions of Modern Times: An Idea and Its Public.” Entangled Knowledge: Scientific Discourses and Cultural Difference. Ed. Klaus Hock and Gesa Mackenthun. Münster and New York: Waxmann, 2012. 133-63.

“Richard Hakluyt and the Demands of pietas patriae.” Richard Hakluyt and Travel Writing in Early Modern Europe. Ed. Daniel Carey and Claire Jowitt. The Hakluyt Society, Extra Series 47. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate Publishing Co., 2012. 187-95.

“Why Bad Things Happen to Good Shepherds: Providence and the Pastoral.” Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 31.1 (2011): 135-45.

“El imaginario bíblico y la historiografía misionera novohispana.” La Biblia en la literatura del Siglo de Oro. Ed. Ignacio Arellano and Ruth Fine. Biblioteca Áurea Hispánica 56. Madrid: Editorial Iberoamericana; Frankfurt: Vervuert, 2010. 63-76.

“Piety, Patriotism, and Empire: Lessons for England, Spain, and the New World in the Works of Richard Hakluyt.” Renaissance Quarterly 62.3 (2009): 809-58.

“Free Will, the Picaresque, and the Exemplarity of Cervantes’s Novelas ejemplares.” M L N 124.2 (2009): 372-403.

Competir con Heliodoro: Cervantes y la crítica ante una leyenda.” U.S.A. Cervantes: 39 cervantistas en Estados Unidos. Ed. Georgina Dopico Black and Francisco Layna Ranz. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Estudios Científicos; Ediciones Polifemo, 2009. 177-210.

Tanto puede el ejemplo de los mayores: The Self-Conscious Practice of Missionary History in New Spain.” Colonial Latin American Review 17.2 (2008): 161-83.

“New Spain, New England, and the New Jerusalem: The ‘Translation’ of Empire, Faith, and Learning (translatio imperii, fidei ac scientiae) in the Colonial Missionary Project.” Early American Literature 43.1 (2008): 5-34.

“The Politics of Providence: History and Empire in the Writings of Pietro Martire, Richard Eden, and Richard Hakluyt.” Material and Symbolic Circulation Between England and Spain, 1554-1604. Ed. Anne J. Cruz. Aldershot and Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Co., 2008. 103-22.

“Doctrina, vivencia y libertad cristianas.” Cervantes y las religiones. Ed. Ruth Fine and Santiago López Navia. Biblioteca Áurea Hispánica 51. Madrid: Universidad de Navarra; Editorial Iberoamericana / Vervuert, 2008. 121-35.

“Hernán Cortés.” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 2nd ed. Ed. William A. Darity, Jr. 9 vols. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2008. 2: 146a-49a.

“Isabel I of Castile.” The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History. Ed. Bonnie G. Smith. 4 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 2: 622a-623a.

“La revisión moral de la literatura pastoril en Don Quijote.” El Quijote desde América. Ed. Gustavo Illades and James Iffland. Mexico: Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades “Alfonso Vélez Pliego,” Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla; Colegio de México, 2006. 23-41.

“La malograda invención de la picaresca.” Dejar hablar a los textos. Homenaje a Francisco Márquez Villanueva. Ed. Pedro M. Piñero Ramírez. 2 vols. Seville: Universidad de Sevilla, 2005, 1: 497-511.

“Free Will, Beauty and the Pursuit of Happiness: Don Quijote and the Moral Intent of Pastoral Literature.” Anuario de Estudios Cervantinos 1 (2004): 121-35.

“The Poetry of History.” Colonial Latin American Review 13.2 (2004): 275-82.

“El fin de los amores de Teágenes y Cariclea, y los fines del Persiles.” Peregrinamente peregrinos. Actas del V Congreso Internacional de la Asociación de Cervantistas. Ed. Alicia Villar Lecumberri. 2 vols. Madrid: Asociación de Cervantistas, 2004. 1: 221-37.

Isabel la Católica, Queen of Castile: critical essays. Ed. David A. Boruchoff. New York and Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

“Historiography with License: Isabel, the Catholic Monarch and the Kingdom of God.” Isabel la Católica, Queen of Castile: critical essays. Ed. David A. Boruchoff. New York and Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. 225-94.

“Instructions for Sainthood and Other Feminine Wiles in the Historiography of Isabel I.” Isabel la Católica, Queen of Castile: critical essays. Ed. David A. Boruchoff. New York and Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. 1-23.

“Sahagún and the Theology of Missionary Work.” Sahagún at 500: Essays on the Quincentenary of the Birth of Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún, OFM. Ed. John Frederick Schwaller. Berkeley: Academy of American Franciscan History, 2003. 59-102.

“The Intellectual and Moral Frontiers of Discovery, and their Teleology in the 16th Century.” Science and Cultural Diversity. Proceedings of the XXIst International Congress of History of Science. Ed. Juan José Saldaña. Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2003.

“On the Place of Madness, Deviance, and Eccentricity in Don Quijote.” Hispanic Review 70.1 (2002): 1-23.

Persiles y la poética de la salvación cristiana.” Volver a Cervantes. Actas del IV Congreso Internacional de la Asociación de Cervantistas. 2 vols. Palma de Mallorca: Universitat de les Illes Balears, 2001. 2: 853-74.

“Anthropology, Reason, and the Dictates of Faith in the Antiquities of Francisco Hernández.” Searching for the Secrets of Nature. The Life and Works of Dr. Francisco Hernández. Ed. Simon Varey, Rafael Chabrán and Dora B. Weiner. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000. 90-103.

“Quevedo y la picaresca.” Luz vital. Estudios de cultura hispánica en memoria de Victor Ouimette. Ed. Ramón F. Llorens and Jesús Pérez-Magallón. Alicante: Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo, 1999. 49-58.

“Cervantes y las leyes de reprehensión cristiana.” Hispanic Review 63.1 (1995): 39-55.

“The Conflict of Natural History and Moral Philosophy in De antiquitatibus novae Hispaniae of Francisco Hernández.” Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos 17.2 (1993): 241-58.

“Beyond Utopia and Paradise: Cortés, Bernal Díaz and the Rhetoric of Consecration.” M L N 106.2 (1991): 330-69.


Courses Taught at McGill

(boldface indicates frequently taught)

Graduate Courses:

Literature and Society in Renaissance Spain

Cervantes and the Invention of the Polyphonic Novel

The Military and Spiritual Conquest of New Spain

Cervantes and the Adventure of Reading

Cervantes and the Strategies of Writing

Celestina and the End(s) of Humanity

The Age of Isabel la Católica

Encounters with the ‘Other’: Spain and the New World

Native and Mestizo Historians of New Spain

Missionary Ethnography of New Spain

Epistemology of the Totalizing Novel

The Outsider in Hispanic Literature (with V. Ouimette)

The Tragic Mode in Hispanic Literature (with K. M. Sibbald)

Undergraduate Courses:

Cervantes (full-year course)

Literature of Discovery and Exploration

Renaissance Prose

Survey of Spanish-American Literature I (1492-1880)

Survey of Spanish Literature I (origins to 1700)

Rogues, Vagabonds and Madmen: the Picaresque Tradition (in English)

Don Quixote (in English)

Research Seminar on Latin America and the Caribbean

Semester themes include: Concepts of the Native American

Latin America Through Foreign Eyes

México-Tenochtitlán: Cultural Encounters

The Mexican Revolution

The Contemporary Brazilian Novel & the Poetics of Censorship (in English)


Hispanic Civilization I (origins to 1700)

Academic Conferences Organized (selection) 

National Cervantes Symposium 2014: New Currents in Cervantes Studies. University of Illinois at Chicago, April 24-26, 2014. (program committee)

Early American Borderlands. St. Augustine, Florida, May 12-15, 2010. (program committee)

New Worlds, New Publics: Re(con)figuring Association and the Impact of European Expansion, 1500-1700. The Newberry Library, Chicago, September 25-27, 2008. (conference director)

Beyond Colonial Studies: An Inter-American Encounter. Providence, Rhode Island, November 4-6, 2004. (conference codirector)

Literature and the Construction of National Identity. McGill University, Montreal, March 19-20, 1998. (conference codirector)

1997 Colloquium on the Acquisition of Spanish and Portuguese as First and Second Languages. McGill University, October 2-4, 1997. (conference codirector)

Encounters with the “Other”: Spain in the New World. McGill University, Montreal, March 26-28, 1992. (conference director)