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 Popol Vuh. He is the only scholar to apply modern marginalia theory to Popol Vuh and his most recent publication looks at marginal annotations and modal shifts that expose an unacknowledged authorial entity within the first folio recto. Other areas of interest and study include Maya anthropology, the Cuban missile crisis, and the Generation of 1927 poets and dramatists. More recently, Dr. Woodruff has taken an interest in gender law and policy.

In the classroom, Dr. Woodruff’s teaching philosophy infuses self-concordance theory developed by Tal Ben-Shahar at Harvard University which further informs Woodruff’s views on faculty-student collaboration.

In addition to his formal academic inquiry and practice, Dr. Woodruff has considerable technical expertise having created various workflow utilities, most notably Excellent Grades and FormMail++.

Marginalia Theory

In their introduction to Ma(r)king the Text: The presentation of meaning on the literary page, Joe Bray, Miriam Handley, and Anne C. Henry point out that “to mark a text is also to make it; [and] features such as punctuation, footnotes, epigraphs, white space and marginalia, marks that traditionally have been ignored in literary criticism, can be examined for their contribution to a text’s meaning” (xvii). My research applies marginalia theory to an eighteenth-century Spanish-American colonial text known as Popol Vuh in order to coax its conservator’s authorial/editorial voice to the forefront.Continue Reading

Digital Humanities for the Lone Scholar

Position Paper. Digital Humanities (sometimes stated as Humanities Computing) has long been a walled garden and generally misidentified as the mere use of computer or information technology. This has led many humanists to mistakenly believe themselves to engage the discipline and many other humanists to regard it as inaccessible. My definition seeks to cure both ills.Continue Reading

Statement of Research

My principal expertise lies with the periconquest narrative commonly known as Popol Vuh which recounts the mythological, historical, and religious heritage of the Quiché Maya who inhabited the highland region of present-day Guatemala City. Although it is one of the foremost works of the Spanish-American colonial period, shockingly little critical attention has been given to its colonial context. Popol Vuh survives by way of Dominican priest Father Francisco Ximénez. The position most commonly taken as to Popol Vuh’s survival is that a missionary-educated Indian used his knowledge of European alphabetic writing to capture and preserve, in written form, the oral recitation of an elder sometime in the 1550s. In the late 1600s or early 1700s, Father Ximénez is popularly theorized to have obtained this phonetic redaction from a parishioner, which he then would have transcribed and translated in parallel Quiché and Spanish. After Ximénez’s death, his writings remained in the library of his convent near the capital until 1829 when Continue Reading

Statement of Teaching Philosophy

In the months following my velvet hooding, I had the wonderful experience of reading Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar,1 a Harvard lecturer on positive psychology. According to Ben-Shahar, there is no formula for happiness, but being happier is a function of self-actualization and the fulfillment found therein. That premise revealed to me the principles that characterized my best classes as a student. Moreover, it explained why the writing stage of my dissertation was an extraordinarily enjoyable and fulfilling experience. Admittedly there were moments of frustration, but in all, I thrived on the challenge and looked forward to working on it each day. Having seen how self-actualization produced such a positive experience for me, I believe that Ben-Shahar’s principles will help me to instill the same functions into the courses that I teach.Continue Reading

Ayer ms Prologue Transcriptions

Prior to my doctoral dissertation, there was no single edited collection of the Ayer ms 1515 prologues. Historically, Carl Scherzer included Ximénez’s third and fourth prologues in his 1857 edition of Las Historias, Rosa Helena Chinchilla Mazariegos included the first prologue in her 1993 edition of Arte de las tres lengvas, and Néstor Quiroa published the second prologue in 2001 in the Colonial Latin-American Historical Review. Even so, Néstor Quiroa and I are the only scholars worldwide to analyze any of the Ayer ms 1515 prologues for insight into Popol Vuh’s pedigree. It is my hope that making my collection of all four Ayer ms 1515 prologues available here will raise awareness of their contribution to the text’s and to the narrative’s meaning and spark investigations by other scholars.Continue Reading