Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Colloquium and Roundtable: European rhetoric and images for the Americas: The world of Diego Valadés, Franciscan artist and humanist

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

3:00pm – 6:30pm

MacMillan Reading Room.

Join us for a colloquium and roundtable discussion with participants including Linda Báez Rubí (Berlin/UNAM Mexico), Byron Hamann (Ohio State University), Andrew Laird (Brown University), Jeffrey Muller (Brown University) and Ken Ward (John Carter Brown Library). The first half of the program (3:00-4:30) will take place in the conference room of the JCB. The second half of the program (4:45-6:30), including a show & tell, will take place in the MacMillan Reading Room. 

The images of Fray Diego Valadés’ memorable engravings from his Rhetorica christiana, a manual of Christian rhetoric published in Perugia in 1579, are well known to historians of early colonial Mexico. The varied illustrations of pre-Hispanic Mexican subjects, everyday life, and missionary activity as well as mnemotechnic devices and alphabets – have acquired particular significance for many because of the widespread belief that Valadés was a native Nahuatl speaker of mixed Spanish and indigenous parentage, who sought to promote knowledge of indigenous legacies of which he had intimate knowledge.

The Latin text of the Rhetorica Christiana however, is all too rarely read and it makes very clear that its author was a Spaniard, born in Iberia and that he was, at best, dismissive of Indians and their traditions. This event will re-assess the nature of the Franciscan’s accomplishments and career as a humanist, theologian, missionary and artist in the light of his work and some surviving writings by his Franciscan contemporaries which are held in the JCB library, to provide new perspectives on Valadés’ legacy and the dissemination of his work. 

This event is organized by Andrew Laird (Brown University) and cosponsored by the Renaissance and Early Modern Studies Program.

The Reading Room will close to researchers at 3:30 p.m.

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