University of Texas Press

William and Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture of the Western Hemisphere

Published by: University of Texas Press

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William and Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture of the Western Hemisphere

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Brazil Imagined

1500 to the Present

By Darlene J. Sadlier

The first comprehensive cultural history of Brazil to be written in English, Brazil Imagined: 1500 to the Present captures the role of the artistic imaginary in shaping Brazil’s national identity. Analyzing representations of Brazil throughout the world, this ambitious survey demonstrates the ways in which life in one of the world’s largest nations has been conceived and revised in visual arts, literature, film, and a variety of other media. Beginning with the first explorations of Brazil by the Portuguese, Darlene J. Sadlier incorporates extensive source material, including paintings, historiographies, letters, poetry, novels, architecture, and mass media to trace the nation’s shifting sense of its own history. Topics include the oscillating themes of Edenic and cannibal encounters, Dutch representations of Brazil, regal constructs, the literary imaginary, Modernist utopias, “good neighbor” protocols, and filmmakers’ revolutionary and dystopian images of Brazil. A magnificent panoramic study of race, imperialism, natural resources, and other themes in the Brazilian experience, this landmark work is a boon to the field.

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Maya Calendar Origins

Monuments, Mythistory, and the Materialization of Time

By Prudence M. Rice

In Maya Political Science: Time, Astronomy, and the Cosmos, Prudence M. Rice proposed a new model of Maya political organization in which geopolitical seats of power rotated according to a 256-year calendar cycle known as the May. This fundamental connection between timekeeping and Maya political organization sparked Rice’s interest in the origins of the two major calendars used by the ancient lowland Maya, one 260 days long, and the other having 365 days. In Maya Calendar Origins, she presents a provocative new thesis about the origins and development of the calendrical system. Integrating data from anthropology, archaeology, art history, astronomy, ethnohistory, myth, and linguistics, Rice argues that the Maya calendars developed about a millennium earlier than commonly thought, around 1200 BC, as an outgrowth of observations of the natural phenomena that scheduled the movements of late Archaic hunter-gatherer-collectors throughout what became Mesoamerica. She asserts that an understanding of the cycles of weather and celestial movements became the basis of power for early rulers, who could thereby claim “control” over supernatural cosmic forces. Rice shows how time became materialized—transformed into status objects such as monuments that encoded calendrical or temporal concerns—as well as politicized, becoming the foundation for societal order, political legitimization, and wealth. Rice’s research also sheds new light on the origins of the Popol Vuh, which, Rice believes, encodes the history of the development of the Mesoamerican calendars. She also explores the connections between the Maya and early Olmec and Izapan cultures in the Isthmian region, who shared with the Maya the cosmovision and ideology incorporated into the calendrical systems.

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The Teotihuacan Trinity

The Sociopolitical Structure of an Ancient Mesoamerican City

By Annabeth Headrick

Northeast of modern-day Mexico City stand the remnants of one of the world’s largest preindustrial cities, Teotihuacan. Monumental in scale, Teotihuacan is organized along a three-mile-long thoroughfare, the Avenue of the Dead, that leads up to the massive Pyramid of the Moon. Lining the avenue are numerous plazas and temples, which indicate that the city once housed a large population that engaged in complex rituals and ceremonies. Although scholars have studied Teotihuacan for over a century, the precise nature of its religious and political life has remained unclear, in part because no one has yet deciphered the glyphs that may explain much about the city’s organization and belief systems. In this groundbreaking book, Annabeth Headrick analyzes Teotihuacan’s art and architecture, in the light of archaeological data and Mesoamerican ethnography, to propose a new model for the city’s social and political organization. Challenging the view that Teotihuacan was a peaceful city in which disparate groups united in an ideology of solidarity, Headrick instead identifies three social groups that competed for political power—rulers, kin-based groups led by influential lineage heads, and military orders that each had their own animal insignia. Her findings provide the most complete evidence to date that Teotihuacan had powerful rulers who allied with the military to maintain their authority in the face of challenges by the lineage heads. Headrick’s analysis also underscores the importance of warfare in Teotihuacan society and clarifies significant aspects of its ritual life, including shamanism and an annual tree-raising ceremony that commemorated the Mesoamerican creation story.

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