Wintersemester 22/23: Between Book and Wuj: 20th- and 21st-century Mayan Literature and Print Culture

Photo taken by Nancy Alicia Martínez of Manuel Tzoc’s collection of poetry, Wuj.


Nancy Alicia Martínez
(Ph.D. Candidate in Comparative Literature Stanford University)

What objects of literary study are produced by Mayan cultures from the 20th century to the present? When it comes to written output, modern production norms identify many of these literary objects as “books”. But adherence to the concept of a book as a universal object that occurs in cultures with writing rather than as a historically and culturally specific object oversimplify practices of engaging with written language around the world. Being presented with a “book” provides the conceptual and physical framework for processes of engaging with written language. Through knowledge about what books are (e.g., containers for information, gathered pages of inscribed surfaces) and how they work (e.g., read from front to back through flipping pages), assumptions are made about how experiences are extracted from literary objects. When applied to written output by or associated with Mayan authors, this complicates our ability to identify how these authors contribute to and experiment with Mayan traditions of written language.

Due to the ways Mayan cultural production has been altered by colonialism and technological changes in the printing and distribution of written language, literary objects by Mayan authors adapt and play with both conceptual and physical features of the “book”. To better understand how the book that appears in Mayan cultures is formed by Mayan conceptions of engaging with written language as well as concepts of Western printing, I will examine the works of Manuel Tzoc as a collection of kinetic, textural, and cognitive experiences through which written language is consumed. Intertwining my readings with understandings of ts’íib, the development of the book in connection to the printing press, and Mesoamerican histories of printing, I aim to develop new ways of tapping into different features of written language that connect to regional and indigenous traditions.

Der Vortrag findet am Montag, dem 31.10.2022 um 18 Uhr c.t. im Großen Übungsraum im 1. OG der Abteilung in der Oxfordstr. 15 statt. Wir bitten Sie, als Teilnehmende, während der Veranstaltung im Gebäude und Vorlesungssaal eine Maske zu tragen.

Weitere Informationen zu allen zukünftigen Veranstaltungen finden Sie auf unserer Website im Plan der Ringvorlesung. Für eine hybride Teilnahme an dem Vortrag melden Sie sich bitte einmalig bei an, dann lassen wir Ihnen den Zoom-Link für die Ringvorlesung zukommen.