Lives, Legends, and Legacies

Lives, Legends, & Legacies

There might not seem to be a great deal of glamour in language studies, but twenty-first century language studies are not merely about polylingualism. Taught properly, language studies are culture- and literature-driven fields that reflect an evolved discipline and an encompassing inquiry. In contrast to the descriptive and observational humanities, literature is an experiential medium and an art form that stand apart. A single individual can live a thousand lives through an author’s pages, but as it is said, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Entry-level language studies are not altogether different than learning a musical instrument. What might be rough and cacophonic at first later gives rise to glorious symphonies and language gives rise to powerful influence. The human mouth is as much an instrument as a piano or a trumpet and the brain forms synaptic pathways that enable speakers to move pharyngocranial muscles in ways that produce sounds which other brains map to coherent thought. In the abstract, language studies could seem banal but it is what a person does with an acquired language that makes it useful, relevant, interesting, and even exciting.

Kindly pardon the progress as you browse the site. All prior content has been migrated, merged, fused, and folded into this new install—and plenty more content has been added—but some formatting remains to be perfected and some integrations are still a little clunky.

Digital Humanities is not merely deploying technology in the humanities, but rather employing technology within the humanities to do things that would be impossible but for modern technology.Language and culture studies.

Marginalia theory.

Popol Vuh.

Spanish-American Colonial Texts

Tikal Central Complex Temple IIRoughly five hundred years before the Spanish conquest, the ancient Maya civilization that once erected breathtaking stone temples and civic complexes dissolved into small- and mid-sized regions of power and influence. The jungle swallowed their monuments and the Spanish conquerors, chaplains, and missionaries of the sixteenth century suppressed most of what remained of the pre-conquest culture. Of particular loss were their fan-fold “books” made from lime-bleached amate and adorned with the majestic figures characteristic of Maya art. Only three such confirmed items survive today—the Madrid, Paris, and Dresden codices—Folio from Madrid codexall of which had already been whisked away to Europe long before their existence became known to the world. Still, Maya epigraphers could not meaningfully decipher these or their stone inscriptions until the latter part of the twentieth century. In the absence of authentic and comprehensible material, the written accounts of the Spanish establishment arose as the authoritative sources of historiographic and ethnographic information on the pre-colonial civilizations and populations. A number of these colonial texts are commonly recognizable, but perhaps the most recognizable of all is Popol Vuh.more ›

Spanish Language & Culture

officially Spanish-speaking countriesSpanish is the fourth-most spoken world language and an official language of twenty-one sovereign states. The practicality of studying Spanish is an important consideration, but Spanish is not simply a medium of communication but rather a gateway to engaging other cultures more fully. From history to literature and from arts to economies, the ability to communicate in the language is perhaps the single greatest advantage. It can be summed up in Sir Francis Bacon’s apocryphal quote: Scientia potentia est (knowledge is power).

Spanish is one of the five romance languages (the others being French, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian). The romance languages are known for their artistic heritage, but even in the modern era the languages continue to employ expressive forms that they uniquely possess. more ›

Technology & Digital Humanities

caveman chiseling wheelTechnology should produce one of two outcomes: easier and better. When humans invented the wheel, it made work easier; when humans acquired fire, it made life better. Today we can still see this principle at work in a digital perspective. Computing technology makes banking and accounting easier while that same technology makes television and movies better. Depending on one’s perspective, technology also creates a subjective efficiency which, depending on a user’s perspective, can be interpreted as easier or as better, but not necessarily both.

airplaneSometimes, though, technology does achieve both easier and better. While the wheel made work easier and fire made life better, modern transportation joins the wheel and fire to make movement easier and better.

In higher education, technology facilitates the exchange of ideas, mitigates the drudgery of mundane tasks, and delivers consistent and uniform content. Technology used by educators tends toward better while technology used by students leans more toward easiermore ›

Scholar Profile

Dr. John WoodruffJohn Woodruff holds a Ph.D. in Romance Languages from The University of Alabama, an M.A. in Spanish/Latin-American Studies also from The University of Alabama, and a distinctive B.A.U.H. in Spanish/Mathematics from the University of Montevallo.

A specialist in Spanish-American colonial texts, Dr. Woodruff applies critical theory of paratext, marginalia, and rhetoric to an eighteenth-century manuscript containing the oldest surviving text of the Quiché Maya narrative known as more ›