During the lifetime of Miguel de Cervantes, the Spanish monarchy governed an empire that extended across the globe, from its traditional lands in Europe to colonies in the Philippines and the Americas. We will examine the advantages and cost of imperial rule through reading a selection of Cervantes's works. Discussions will centre on such questions as the social impact of imperial wealth, the disruptive role of soldiers in civil society, contact with non-European cultures and the sub-cultures of Spanish society. Students will be introduced to the University of Toronto´s outstanding resources for studying the literatures and cultures of early modern Europe. Readings will include some of the Exemplary Stories and selected episodes of Don Quixote. Restricted to first-year students. Not eligible for CR/NCR option.