H-170. Spanish American Textual Technologies to 1800 - Advance Reading List

Open All
Close All
  • Preliminary Advices

    This list provides a sense of the major themes and scholarship that we will engage with in this course while offering extensive bibliographical avenues for those interested in the field. Students will receive a brief selection of required readings taken from this list upon enrollment.

  • Overviews

    The books and articles in this section provide overviews of various aspects of book history in Spanish America. They are also recommended as starting points for students unfamiliar with the field:

    Boornazian Diel, Lori. “Early Colonial Forms of Native Expression in Mexico and Peru.” In
    Oxford Bibliographies Online: Latin American Studies, edited by O. Hugo Benavides, Jaime E.
    Rodriguez, Ilan Stavans, and Yanna Yannakakis. Article last modified July 24, 2013; last
    reviewed May 5, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1093/OBO/9780199766581-0135.

    Boone, Elizabeth Hill, and Walter Mignolo. Writing without Words: Alternative Literacies in
    Mesoamerica and the Andes. Durham: Duke University Press, 1994.

    Calvo, Hortensia. “The Politics of Print: The Historiography of the Book in Early Spanish
    America.” Book History 6 (2003): 277–305.

    Glass, John B. “A Survey of Native Middle American Pictorial Manuscripts.” In Handbook of
    Middle American Indians, vol. 14, Guide to Ethnohistorical Sources, part 3, edited by Howard F.
    Cline, 3–80. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1975.

    Manrique Figueroa, Cesar. “Studying the Book in Hispanic America: The Process of
    Consolidation of National Identities.” In Jaarboek Voor Nederlandse Boekgeschiedenis 20/2013,
    edited by Nederlandse Boekhistorische Vereniging and Koninklijke Bibliotheek, 187–200.
    Leiden: Nijmegen: Uitgeverij Vantilt; Leiden: Nederlandse Boekhistorische Vereniging, 2013.

    Martinez, Jose Luis. El libro en Hispanoamérica: Origen y desarrollo. Madrid: Fundacion German Sanchez Ruiperez/Ediciones Pirámide, 1986.

    Nesvig, Martin Austin. “Printing and the Book.” In Oxford Bibliographies Online: Latin American Studies, edited by O. Hugo Benavides, Jaime E. Rodriguez, Ilan Stavans, and Yanna Yannakakis. Article last modified October 28, 2011; last reviewed May 5, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1093/OBO/9780199766581-0047.

    Roldán Vera, Eugenia. “The Book in the Iberian Atlantic, 1492–1824.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History, edited by Lauren Derby, Brenda Elsey, Guillermo Palacios, Fabrício Prado, Gabriela Soto Laveaga, Jessica Stites Mor, Emily Wakild, Charles Walker, Stephen Webre, and Stephanie Wood. Article published February 26, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199366439.013.33.

  • Mesoamerican Pictorial Manuscript Scholarship

    Digital Facsimiles

    In this course, we will discuss aspects of the corpus of extant, pre-Contact pictorial screenfolds as we know them from facsimiles and their accompanying commentaries. Our focus will be on five divinatory screenfolds known to have come from the central highlands of Mexico and four from the Maya lowlands. One of the finest selections of photographic facsimiles made of these screenfolds are those in the Codices Selecti series published by the Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) in Graz, Austria. The digital images of these facsimiles are available through the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies (FAMSI) website (http://www.famsi.org/research/graz/index.html). The fourth Maya screenfold, Grolier, was not among those published by ADEVA. The Grolier Club, instead, made the screenfold’s existence known to the world in a monograph authored by Michael Coe (1973). Those images are likewise available via the FAMSI website (http://www.famsi.org/mayawriting/codices/grolier.html).

    Ethnohistorical Sources

    Below are ethnohistorical works critical to the study of Mesoamerican painted manuscripts and recent re-evaluations about the works themselves.

    Anderson, Arthur J. O., and Dibble, Charles E. Florentine Codex: General History of the Things of New Spain. 1st paperback ed. Monographs of the School of American Research, no. 14, pt. 1–13. Santa Fe, New Mexico; Salt Lake City, Utah: School of American Research, University of Utah, 2012.

    Castro-Klaren, Sara. “Produciendo a Sahagún:  El problema de la autoría en Sahagún, Pablo de San Buenaventura, Antonio Valeriano, Alonso Bejarano, Martín Jacobita y otros, Sahagún y los neo-tlacuilos.” Revista De Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana 43, no. 86 (2017): 89–111.

    Durán, Diego. Book of the Gods and Rites and The Ancient Calendar. Translated and edited by Fernando Horcasitas and Doris Heyden. Foreword by Miguel Leon-Portilla. Civilization of the American Indian Series, v. 102. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971.

    Landa, Diego de. Yucatan Before and After the Conquest. Translated with notes by William Gates. New York: Dover Publications, 1978.

    Restall, Matthew, and Chuchiak, John F., IV. “A Reevaluation of the Authenticity of Fray Diego de Landa’s Relación de las cosas de Yucatán.” Ethnohistory 49, no. 3 (2002): 651–69.

    Ríos Castaño, Victoria. “From the ‘Memoriales Con Escolios’ to the Florentine Codex: Sahagún and His Nahua Assistants’ Co-authorship of the Spanish Translation.” Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research 20, no. 2 (2014): 214–28.

    Scholarship on Content

    The scholarship regarding the content of Mesoamerican painted manuscripts (e.g., iconography, paleography, hieroglyphic texts, calendrics, dating, ritual, and art style) is vast and spans more than a century. Below are select citations of the most recent works that represent the array of recent currents, methodological approaches, and perspectives.

    Boone, Elizabeth Hill. Cycles of Time and Meaning in the Mexican Books of Fate. 1st ed. Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2007.

    Boone, Elizabeth Hill. Stories in Red and Black: Pictorial Histories of the Aztecs and Mixtecs. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000.

    Bricker, Harvey M., and Victoria R. Bricker. Astronomy in the Maya Codices. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 2011.

    Bricker, Victoria Reifler, and Vail, Gabrielle. Papers on the Madrid Codex. New Orleans: Middle American Research Institute, 1997.

    Christenson, Allen J. Popol Vuh: the Sacred Book of the Maya. Oklahoma ed., University of Oklahoma Press, 2007.

    Dowd, Anne S., et al. Cosmology, Calendars, and Horizon-Based Astronomy in Ancient Mesoamerica. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2015.

    Knowlton, Timothy W. Maya Creation Myths Words and Worlds of the Chilam Balam. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2010.

    Love, Bruce. The Paris Codex: Handbook for a Maya Priest. 1st ed. University of Texas Press, 1994.

    Martínez del Campo Lanz, Sofía. El códice Maya de México, antes Grolier. Primera edición. ed., Secretaría De Cultura, Instituto Nacional De Antropología e Historia, 2018.

    Milbrath, Susan. Star Gods of the Maya: Astronomy in Art, Folklore, and Calendars. 1st ed. University of Texas Press, 1999.

    Nowotny, Karl Anton, Everett, George A., and Sisson, Edward B. Tlacuilolli: Style and Contents of the Mexican Pictorial Manuscripts with a Catalog of the Borgia Group. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2005.

    Paxton, Merideth. The Cosmos of the Yucatec Maya: Cycles and Steps from the Madrid Codex. 1st ed. University of New Mexico Press, 2001.

    Smith, Mary Elizabeth, and Boone, Elizabeth Hill. Painted Books and Indigenous Knowledge in Mesoamerica: Manuscript Studies in Honor of Mary Elizabeth Smith. New Orleans: Middle American Research Institute, 2005.

    Vail, Gabrielle, and Anthony F. Aveni. The Madrid Codex: New Approaches to Understanding an Ancient Maya Manuscript. Mesoamerican Worlds. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2004.

    Vail, Gabrielle, and Christine L. Hernández. Re-Creating Primordial Time: Foundation Rituals and Mythology in the Postclassic Maya Codices. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2013. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt5hjz2g.

    Vail, Gabrielle, and Christine L. Hernández, eds. Astronomers, Scribes, and Priests: Intellectual Interchange between the Northern Maya Lowlands and Highland Mexico in the Late Postclassic Period. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 2010.

    Valencia Rivera, Rogelio, and Le Fort, Geneviève. Sacred Books, Sacred Languages: Two Thousand Years of Ritual and Religious Maya Literature: Proceedings of the 8th European Maya Conference, Madrid, November 25-30, 2003. Markt Schwaben: Verlag Anton Saurwein, 2006.

    Material Studies

    Some of the most recent research on Mesoamerican codices utilize the latest non-invasive technologies to investigate the raw materials (paper, hide, paints, and gessos) and construction techniques used in their manufacture. Below are select examples of this research, which also includes Martínez del Campo Lanz’s volume (cited above).

    Buti, et al. “Further Insight into Mesoamerican Paint Technology: Unveiling the Colour Palette of the Pre‐Columbian Codex Fejérváry‐Mayer by Means of Non‐Invasive Analysis.” Archaeometry 60, no. 4 (2018): 797–814.

    Buti, D, et al. “Non-Invasive Investigation of a Pre-Hispanic Maya Screenfold Book: the Madrid Codex.” Journal of Archaeological Science 42, no. 1 (2014) 166–78.

    Domenech-Carbo, Antonio, et al. “Isomerization and Redox Tuning in ‘Maya Yellow’ Hybrids from Flavonoid Dyes plus Palygorskite and Kaolinite Clays.” Microporous and Mesoporous Materials 194 (2014): 135.

    Domenici, Davide. “Coloring Materials, Technological Practices, and Painting Traditions: Cultural and Historical Implications of Nondestructive Chemical Analyses of Pre-Hispanic

    Mesoamerican Codices.” In Painting the Skin: Pigments on Bodies and Codices in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, edited by Elodie Dupey García and M. Luisa Vázquez de Agredos Pascual. The University of Arizona Press: Instituto De Investigaciones Históricas, 2018.

    Miliani, C, et al. “Colouring Materials of Pre-Columbian Codices: Non-Invasive in Situ Spectroscopic Analysis of the Codex Cospi.” Journal of Archaeological Science 39, no. 3 (2012): 672–9.

    Internet Resources

    Select online resources that provide an excellent background to Mesoamerican pictorial screenfolds, links to digitized facsimiles, and supplementary materials in digital format, as well as freely available documentaries.

    Aveni, Anthony. “Mesoamerican Mathematics.” Mesolore, Brown University, http://mesolore.org/scholars/lectures/19/Mesoamerican-Mathematics-by-Anthony-Aveni.  

    Lebrun, David, dir. Breaking the Maya Code: Discovering Remnants of the Mayas. https://www.nightfirefilms.org/breaking-the-maya-code.

    Escalona, Enrique, dir. Tlacuilo. 1988.


    “Maya Hieroglyphic Writing: The Ancient Codices.” FAMSI, Los Angeles County Museum of Art,  http://www.famsi.org/mayawriting/codices/.

    Vail, Gabrielle, and Christine Hernández. “The Maya Codices Database, Version 5.0.,” 2018. Website and database, http://www.mayacodices.org/.

    Ringle, William. “Mesoamerican Resources.” Website, University of California-Davis,  https://www.smokingmirror.org.

    Guides & Bibliographies

    John Glass (1975) in his survey of Mesoamerican manuscripts for the Handbook of Middle American Indian (cited above) provided a list of guides and bibliographies for the time. More recent additional works are cited below.

    Brotherston, Gordon. Painted Books from Mexico: Codices in UK Collections and the World They Represent. Published for the Trustees of the British Museum by British Museum Press, 1995.

    Catálogo de códices que se resguardan en la Sección de Testimonios Pictográficos (a partir de 1965). Cuaderno de trabajo (Biblioteca Nacional de Antropología e Historia) 60. México, D.F.: Biblioteca Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 1985.

    García, Cayetano Reyes. Documentos mexicanos: cacchiqueles, cayas, matlatzincas, mixtecos y nauas. Archivo General de la Nación (México). Serie Guías y catálogos 72. México, D.F.: Archivo General de la Nación, 1982.

    Guzmán M., Virginia. Bibliografía de códices, mapas y lienzos del México prehispánico y colonial. Colección científica (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (México)) 79. México: SEP, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 1979.

    Oudijk, Michel. Historiography of the Bènizàa: The Postclassic and Early Colonial Periods, 1000–1600 A.D. Vol. 84. CNWS Publications. Leiden, The Netherlands: Research School of Asian, African and Amerindian Studies, Universiteit Leiden, 2000.

    Pillsbury, Joanne. Guide to Documentary Sources for Andean Studies, 1530–1900. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008.

  • Indigeneity, Mestizaje and Hybridity in Colonial Spanish America

    Bleichmar, Daniela. “Painting the Aztec Past in Early Colonial Mexico: Translation and Knowledge Production in the Codex Mendoza.” Renaissance Quarterly 72, no. 4 (2019): 1362–415. https://doi.org/10.1017/rqx.2019.377.

    Chuchiak, John F., IV. “Writing as Resistance: Maya Graphic Pluralism and Indigenous Elite Strategies for Survival in Colonial Yucatan, 1550-1750.” Ethnohistory 57, no. 1 (2010): 87–116.

    Leibsohn, Dana. Script and Glyph: Pre-Hispanic History, Colonial Bookmaking, and the Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 2009.

    McKee, Stuart. “How Print Culture Came to Be Indigenous.” Visible Language 44, no. 2 (May 2010): 161–86.

    Noguez, Xavier, et al. De tlacuilos y escribanos: estudios sobre documentos indígenas coloniales del centro de México. Zamora, Michoacán: El Colegio De Michoacán; Zinacantepec, México: El Colegio Mexiquense, 1998.

    Quiroa, Nestor. “Missionary Exegesis of the Popol Vuh: Maya-K’iche’ Cultural and Religious Continuity in Colonial and Contemporary Highland Guatemala.” History of Religions 53, no. 1 (August 1, 2013): 66–97. https://doi.org/10.1086/671250.

    Robertson, Donald. Mexican Manuscript Painting of the Early Colonial Period: The Metropolitan Schools. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994.

    Russo, Alessandra. The Untranslatable Image: A Mestizo History of the Arts in New Spain, 1500-1600. Translated by Susan Emanuel. Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2014.

    Smith, Mary Elizabeth, and Parmenter, Ross. The Codex Tulane. New Orleans: Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University, 1991.

    Wood, Stephanie Gail. Transcending Conquest: Nahua Views of Spanish Colonial Mexico. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003.


  • Incas & Colonial Peru

    Ascher, Marcia and Robert Ascher. Code of the Quipu: A Study in Media, Mathematics, and Culture. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1981.

    Brokaw, Galen. A History of the Khipu. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

    Burns, Kathryn. Into the Archive: Writing and Power in Colonial Peru. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010.

    McEwan, Gordon F. The Incas: New Perspectives. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2006.

    Quilter, Jeffrey, and Gary Urton. Narrative Threads: Accounting and Recounting in Andean Khipu. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002.

    Urton, Gary. “Numeral Graphic Pluralism in the Colonial Andes.” Ethnohistory 57, no. 1 (2010): 135–64. https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-2009-057

  • The Printed Book in Colonial Spanish America

    A selected list of readings from a vast corpus of texts on the subject.

    Castañeda, Carmen, and Myrna Cortés, eds. Del autor al lector: I. Historia del libro en México / II. Historial del libro. México, D.F: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS), 2002.

    Chocano Mena, Magdalena. “Colonial Printing and Metropolitan Books: Printed Texts and the Shaping of Scholarly Culture in New Spain, 1539 – 1700.” CLAHR: Colonial Latin American Historical Review 6, no. 1 (1997): 69–90.

    Fornet, Ambrosio. El libro en Cuba: siglos XVIII y XIX. 2nd ed. La Habana, Cuba: Letras Cubanas, 2014.

    Fúrlong Cárdiff, Guillermo. Historia y bibliografía de las primeras imprentas rioplatenses, 1700-1850: Misiones del Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay. Buenos Aires: Editorial Guarania,1953.

    Garone Gravier, Marina. Historia de la tipografía colonial para lenguas indígenas. México, D.F: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, 2014.

    Griffin, Clive. The Crombergers of Seville: The History of a Printing and Merchant Dynasty. New York: Clarendon Press; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.

    Guibovich Pérez, Pedro. Imprimir en Lima durante la colonia: historia y documentos, 1584-1750. Parecos y australes 26. Madrid: Frankfurt am Main: Iberoamericana; Vervuert, 2019.

    Guibovich Pérez, Pedro. “The Printing Press in Colonial Peru: Production Process and Literary Categories in Lima, 1584-1699.” Colonial Latin American Review 10, no. 2 (December 1, 2001):167–88. https://doi.org/10.1080/10609160120093769.

    Medina, Jose Toribio. Biblioteca hispano-americana, 1493-1810. Santiago de Chile: Impreso y grabado en la casa del autor, 1898-1907.

    Mohler, Stephen. “Publishing in Colonial Spanish America.” Inter-American Review of Bibliography 28, no. 3 (1978) 263–6.

    Rubio Hernández, Alfonso and Juan David Murillo Sandoval. Historia de la edición en Colombia, 1738-1851. Bogotá: Instituto Caro y Cuervo, 2017.

    Stols, Alexandre A.M. La introducción de la imprenta en Guatemala. México: UNAM, 1960.

  • The Transatlantic Book

    There have been numerous studies of the transatlantic book trade and reading cultures and practices in early Spanish America. The following are some of the most influential.

    Leonard, Irving A. Books of the Brave: Being an Account of Books and of Men in the Spanish Conquest and Settlement of the Sixteenth-Century New World. First published 1949. 2nd edition, with an introduction by Rolena Adorno. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.

    González Sánchez, Carlos Alberto. New World Literacy: Writing and Culture across the Atlantic, 1500-1700. Translated by Tristán Platt. Bucknell Studies in Latin American Literature and Theory. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press.

    Rueda Ramírez, Pedro J. Negocio e intercambio cultural: el comercio de libros con América en la Carrera de Indias (siglo XVII). Sevilla: Universidad de Sevilla; Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 2005.

    Torre Revello, José. El libro, la imprenta y el periodismo en América durante la dominación española. Buenos Aires: Talleres Casa Jacobo Peuser, Ltda., 1940.

  • Debates around Literacy and the Lettered Class

    Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso, 1983.

    Clément, Jean-Pierre, El Mercurio peruano. 2 vols. Frankfurt: Vervuert; Madrid: Iberoamericana, 1997-1998.

    Guerra, François-Xavier and Annick Lempérière, eds. Los espacios públicos en Iberoamérica: Ambigüedades y problemas, siglos XVIII y XIX. México: Centro Francés de Estudios Mexicanos y Centroamericanos and Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1998.

    Mignolo, Walter. The Darker Side of the Renaissance: Literacy, Territoriality, and Colonization. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1995.

    Rappaport, Joanne. Beyond the Lettered City: Indigenous Literacies in the Andes. Narrating Native Histories. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012.

    Rama, Angel. The Lettered City. Translated and with an introduction by John Charles Chasteen. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996.

  • Censorship

    Adorno, Rolena. “Literary Production and Suppression: Reading and Writing about Amerindians in Colonial Spanish America.” Dispositio 11, nos. 28–29 (1986): 1–25. https://www.jstor.org/stable/41491288.

    Friede, Juan. “La censura española del siglo XVI y los libros de historia de América,” Revista de Historia de América 47 (1959): 45–94. https://www.jstor.org/stable/20137342.

    Nesvig, Martin Austin. “‘Heretical Plagues’ and Censorship Cordons: Colonial Mexico and the Transatlantic Book Trade.” Church History 75, no. 1 (2006): 1–37


    Palacios, Albert A. “Preventing ‘Heresy’: Censorship and Privilege in Mexican Publishing, 1590-1612.” Book History 17 (2014): 117–64. https://doi.org/10.1353/bh.2014.0012.

    Reyes Gómez, Fermín de los. El libro en España y América: Legislación y censura, siglos XV-XVIII. Instrumenta Bibliológica. Madrid: Editorial Arco/Libros, 2000.

  • Maps

    Barteet, C. Cody. “The Títulos de Ebtún, Yucatan, Mexico: Mapping Maya Communal Identity in a Colonial Spanish Notarial Context.” Imago Mundi: The International Journal for the History of Cartography 67, no. 2 (2015): 179–99. https://doi.org/10.1080/03085694.2015.1027550

    Dym, Jordana, and Karl Offen. Mapping Latin America: A Cartographic Reader. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press, 2011.

    Hidalgo, Alex. Trail of Footprints: A History of Indigenous Maps from Viceregal Mexico. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2019.

    Mundy, Barbara E. The Mapping of New Spain: Indigenous Cartography and the Maps of the Relaciones Geográficas. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1996.