Louise M. Burkhart

Office: Arts & Sciences Building, Room 203
Ph: (518) 442-4706
E-mail: lburkhart@albany.edu                      Publications
Ph.D., Yale, 1986                                          Curriculum Vitae

Louise M. Burkhart


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

Professor Burkhart investigates the ways in which indigenous Mexicans experienced, engaged with, and manipulated the Christian texts and teachings introduced under Spanish colonial rule. She works primarily with materials in the Nahuatl (Aztec) language, often produced by literate native people working under varying degrees of priestly supervision. These materials complicate notions of "conversion" or "syncretism" by documenting the varied, sophisticated, and often subtly nativistic innovations that characterized new, indigenous Christianities. Her largest body of work deals with Nahuatl religious theater, a rich and diverse genre including morality plays, Passion plays, stagings of saints' legends and other biblical stories, and adaptations of Spanish Baroque dramas. Other research foci include the collision between Roman Catholic and indigenous moral systems, and the development of native people's devotion to the Virgin Mary. Her latest research examines pictographic inscriptions of Nahuatl-language Christian doctrine. This work debunks the conventional view of these texts (known as Testerian manuscripts) as early missionary tools, arguing that later-colonial native elites invented these new forms of writing for the purpose of political legitimation.



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


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.

Recent Articles and Chapters

The "Little Doctrine and Indigenous Catchesis in New Spain. 2014. Hispanic American Historical Review 94 (2): 167-206.

Religious Drama. 2013 In Lexikon of the Hispanic Baroque, ed. Kenneth Mills and Evone Levy, 284-286. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Satan is my Nickname: Demonic and Angelic Interventions in Colonial Nahuatl Theatre. 2013. In Angels, Demons and the New World, ed. Fernando Cervantes and Andrew Redden, 101-125. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


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: 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 Micael Rocke, 257-272. Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renasisance Studies, University of Toronto.


Meeting the Enemy: Moteucçoma and Cortés, Herod and the Magi. 2007. 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.