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Roughly 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 writing. Only three such confirmed items survive today—the Madrid, Paris, and Dresden codices—all 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. Continue reading “Popol Vuh”
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 “Marginalia Theory”
John M. 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 addition to his formal academic inquiry, Dr. Woodruff is presently authoring a novel, a collection of evocative short stories, and a textbook. He is also the author of various workflow automation utilities including Excellent Grades, FormMail++ and CalTX.