Louise M. Burkhart

Office: Arts & Sciences Building, Room 203
Ph: (518) 442-4706
E-mail: lburkhart@albany.edu

Ph.D., Yale, 1986


Curriculum Vitae

Interests: Ethnohistory/Historical ethnography; colonialism and evangelization; symbolic, interpretive, and postmodern anthropology; Mesoamerican religions (pre-Columbian, colonial, and contemporary); textual analysis; Mesoamerican history and ethnology; Native North American and Mesoamerican literatures; Nahuatl catechistic and devotional literature; folklore, folk narrative, fairy tales; Nahuatl language; and pre-Columbian and Indo-Christian art.

Areas: Mesoamerica, North America

Research Statement

Although I have broad interests in Native American peoples past and present, early colonial Mexico holds a particular fascination for me. In their encounters with Spanish imperialism in its various forms, the indigenous peoples developed strategies for accommodation and survival that ranged from re-inventions of their own past to creative appropriations of European cultural models. A documentary corpus unparalleled elsewhere in the Americas supports investigation in this area. My research focuses on the religion of Nahuatl-speakers in central Mexico, tracing their development of a version of Christianity that suited their world view, moral philosophy and aesthetics as well as their situation in a colonial political economy. I work extensively with Nahuatl catechistic and devotional literature written by native authors and European priests. I recently completed a four-volume study of colonial Nahuatl drama. My principal goal is to advance the understanding of cultural change beyond traditional models of "syncretism" and "acculturation" in a way that takes account of how systems of signification operate and also treats the indigenous people as active arbiters of change.

Jointly appointed to the Department of Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latino Studies


Research of Louise Burkhart


 The Slippery Earth by Louise M. Burkhart

Pdf version available by permission of the author:
Chapters 1&2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6&7
Appendix, Notes, Ref, Index

Select Publications


Aztecs on Stage: Religious Theater in Colonial Mexico. 2011. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Nahuatl Theater Volume 4: Nahua Christianity in Performance. 2009. Co-edited and co-translated with Barry D. Sell. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. (forthcoming, May)

Nahuatl Theater Volume 3: Spanish Golden Age Drama in Mexican Translation. 2008. Co-edited/co-translated with Barry D. Sell and Elizabeth R. Wright. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Nahuatl Theater Volume 2: Our Lady of Guadalupe/. 2006.
Co-edited/co-translated with Barry D. Sell and Stafford Poole. Norman:
University of Oklahoma Press.

Nahuatl Theater Volume 1: Death and Life in Colonial Nahua Mexico/.
2004. Co-edited/co-translated with Barry D. Sell. University of Oklahoma Press.

Before Guadalupe: The Virgin Mary in Early Colonial Nahuatl Literature/. 2001 . Albany: Institute for Mesoamerican Studies, University at Albany, State University of New York.

Holy Wednesday: A Nahua Drama from Early Colonial Mexico/. 1996.
Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press.

The Slippery Earth: Nahua-Christian Moral Dialogue in Sixteenth-Century Mexico/. 1989. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters (last ten years)

The Destruction of Jerusalem as Colonial Nahuatl Historical Drama. 2010. In The Conquest All Over Again: Nahuas and Zapotecs Thinking, Writing, and Painting Spanish Colonialism, ed. Susan Schroeder, 74-100. Brighton, U.K.: Sussex Academic Press.

Humour in Baroque Nahuatl Drama. 2008. In Power, Life, Gender, and Ritual in Europe and the Americas: Essays in Memory of Richard C. Trexler, ed. Peter Arnade and Michael Rocke, 257-272. Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, University of Toronto.

Meeting the Enemy: Motecuhzoma and Cortés, Herod and the Magi. 2008. In Invasion and Transformation: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Conquest of Mexico, ed. Rebecca P. Brienen and Margaret A. Jackson, 11-23. Boulder: University Press of Colorado.

Inspiración italiana y contexto americano: El gran teatro del mundo traducido por don Bartolomé de Alva Ixtlilxohitl. 2004. Co-authored with Elizabeth R. Wright and Barry D. Sell. Criticón 87/88/89:925-934 (special issue, Festschrift for Stefano Arata).

Lope de Vega in lengua mexicana (Nahuatl): Don Bartolomé de Alva Ixtlilxochitl’s Translation of La madre de la mejor (1640). 2003a. Co-authored with Barry D. Sell and Elizabeth R. Wright. Bulletin of the Comediantes 55:163-190.

On the Margins of Legitimacy: Sahagún’s Psalmodia and the Latin Liturgy. 2003b. In Sahagún at 500: Essays on the Quincentenary of the Birth of Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún, OFM, ed. John Frederick Schwaller, 103-116. Berkeley, CA: Academy of American Franciscan History.

“Traduçida en lengua mex.na y dirig.da al P.e oraçio Carochi”: Jesuit-inspired Nahuatl Scholarship in Seventeenth-Century Mexico. 2003. Co-authored with Barry D. Sell and Elizabeth R. Wright. Estudios de cultura náhuatl 34:277-290.

Gender in Nahuatl Texts of the Early Colonial Period: Preconquest "Tradition" and the Dialogue with Christianity. 2001a. In Gender in Pre-Hispanic America, ed. Cecelia F. Klein, 87-107. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks.

Entries on Confession, Heaven and Hell, and Sin. 2001b. In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures, edited by Davíd Carrasco. Oxford: Oxford University Press.