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Spatial Grammars: Meaning in the Two-Dimensional Field of the Painted Books of Aztec Mexico

September 28, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm EDT


This lecture focuses on the painted books of Aztec Mexico. These sixteenth-century documents are considered works of Art by some, and Writing by others. The Aztecs and their neighbors conceptualized writing and image-making as a single cultural category, one that involved a nonverbal system of graphic communication in which images carry meaning directly without a detour through speech. Exploring the place where our Western conceptions of Art and Writing come closest together, this talk reviews some of the graphic vocabulary of Mexican pictography. Dr. Boone will focus on the arrangements of the images and analyze the underlying spatial grammars of different literary genres.


Dumbarton Oaks
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The Oak Room at Dumbarton Oaks
1700 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20007 United States
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