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Zeb J. Tortorici F'11, F'09

Zeb J. Tortorici

Assistant Professor
Department of Spanish & Portuguese
New York University
last updated: 05/13/13

ACLS New Faculty Fellows Program 2011
Ph.D., History, University of California, Los Angeles
Dissertation: "Contra Natura: Sin, Crime, and 'Unnatural' Sexuality in Colonial Mexico, 1530-1821"
Appointed in History at Stanford University (Academic Years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013)

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2009
Department: History
University of California, Los Angeles
Contra Natura: Sin, Crime, and Unnatural Sexuality in Colonial Mexico, 1600-1800

This project is a cultural history based on some 250 colonial Mexican Inquisition and criminal cases from 1600-1800 concerned with the Spanish regulation of sexual practices deemed “unnatural” by biblical standards, Church Fathers, and medieval theologians. Analysis of these cases (in which term “contra natura”—against nature—was used in reference to sodomy, bestiality, masturbation, solicitation, and abortion) places “unnatural” acts and their meanings within larger historical contexts to examine tolerance and repression, changing notions of heresy and criminality, erotic expressions of religiosity, and the boundaries between humans and animals. Ultimately, this research offers a nuanced understanding of the thoughts, behaviors, and genders under colonialism in early Mexico.