Work in Progress Talk: Beatriz Colombi

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
LAL Seminar Room
The Latin American Library 7001 Freret Street, 4th floor, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library

Work in Progress Talk by Greenleaf Fellow Beatriz Colombi: Myths, Emblems and the Emergence of ‘criollo’ Culture in New Spain

The publication in 1531 of Andrea Alciato’s Emblematum Liber gave birth to a new linguistic and iconic genre, the emblematic, which shaped symbolic representation in Europe during the following centuries. The genre spread throughout the New World, particularly in New Spain (Colonial Mexico), where a local edition of Alciato’s book was published in 1577. The emblematic tradition was of primary importance in official festivities, such as triumphal arches and funeral pyres, but it also permeated many other forms of expressions in colonial societies. Emblems were used, in the first place, as a language of power and morality, however later on they provided a repertoire of images to articulate the eccentric situation of an emergent criollo culture. My talk centers on seventeeth century Mexican intellectuals Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora, who both authored triumphal arches in 1680, Neptuno Alegórico and Theatro de virtudes políticas, respectively. I argue that the emblematic genre was essentially a syncretic language that encompassed pagan traditions and Christian morality, and as such was ideally suited to articulate a hybrid or mestizo culture as it developed in New Spain. Therefore, rather than being exclusively a mechanism of social control on the part of the monarchy and its local representatives, as it is largely conceived, the emblematic tradition allowed new mythographies and unorthodox appropriations, as well as contestatory statements.

Beatriz Colombi (PhD. Literature-University of Buenos Aires) teaches literature at the Institute of Hispanic Literature and Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Letters at the University of Buenos Aires. She has published widely on Spanish American colonial studies, New World chronicles, Baroque culture, Modernism, fiction and essay of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, travel literature, exile, migrations and intellectual history. Among her more recent publications are: Viaje intelectual. Migraciones y desplazamientos en América Latina (1880-1915) (Beatriz Viterbo 2004); and two edited volumes: Cosmópolis. Del flâneur al globe-trotter (Eterna Cadencia Editora 2010), and José Martí. Escritos sobre América, discursos y crónicas norteamericana (Capital Intelectual 2010). She has been a visiting scholar at Brown University (USA), Universidade de São Paulo (Brazil) and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City. She is currently working on Baroque culture in New Spain and transformations in the sphere of the imaginary.

This event is made possible by the Richard E. Greenleaf Endowment at The Latin American Library.


Click for larger image

Andrea Alciato
Emblematum Libellus, Paris
Christian Wechel, 1534
This talk will be in Spanish.