Tag Archives: Weston Library

ARTES event: Picturing a New World – Cortés – Moctezuma, 1519–2019: A Special Study Afternoon and Conversation

A guest post by Anna Espinola Lynn and Clare Hills-Nova

On 23 October, 2019, ARTES, together with the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, hosted a transdisciplinary session at the University’s Weston Library, focusing on Mesoamerican manuscripts. The event was designed to mark the 500th anniversary of the historic meeting between the Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés (1485–1547) and the Aztec ruler Moctezuma the Younger (1466–1520), just outside Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), on 8 November 1519. Attendees included students, academics and representatives of other cultural institutions.

Attendance at this exclusive event was by invitation only. Would you like to take part in similar visits in the future? Join ARTES today!

MS. Arch. Selden. A. 72 (3). Image courtesy the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

The afternoon began in the Weston Library’s Visiting Scholars’ Centre. On view were the Selden Roll (MS. Arch. Selden. A. 72 (3)) alongside two modern books produced by Alfonso García Tellez, using the traditional, amate paper-based techniques evidenced by rare Pre-Hispanic codices and rolls.

The session began with Sir John Elliott’s essay on the Cortez-Moctezuma encounter before moving on to presentations by Giuseppe Marcocci (University of Oxford), Emily Floyd (UCL), and the Bodleian Libraries’ Head of Conservation, Virginia Lladó-Buisán. 

Giuseppe followed Sir John’s paper with a consideration of the roles vision and visual culture took on in the encounter between the Spanish visitors and the Mexica. Turning to contemporary accounts of the encounter that emphasize vision, as well as representations of the imagined or real Other, Giuseppe pointed to visual asymmetries active in colonial contexts as they participated in relations of power. 

Emily, meanwhile, provided a reading of the pre-colonial Selden Roll as it expressed the formation of a new cycle of rule in central Mexico. She discussed the multiplicity of ways the Roll can be read, and invited further conversation as to possible representations of time, succession, generation and regeneration. Regarding the name of the Selden Roll, Emily noted that this was associated  with its colonial history of collecting more than with the Roll’s actual content, commenting that ‘The Roll of New Fire’ had recently been adopted as a more appropriate title for it. 

Virginia followed up with insights into the processes and materials used in creating the Roll, drawing upon the results of recent research. Participants in this session had the unique pleasure of getting up close to the Selden Roll and asking those experts present questions about anything from shifts in hue or line quality, to contexts of production in pre-colonial and colonial environments, and on the multivalent symbolisms in the Roll. 

Following a compelling period of conversation around and about the objects, the afternoon concluded with a visit to the Weston Library’s Talking Maps exhibition, where the Codex Mendoza (Bodleian Library MS. Arch. Selden. A. 1) was on display. Here, they were able to extend the conversation regarding the authorship, readership and linguistic referents of the pre-colonial Roll of New Fire versus the colonial era’s Mendoza Codex. 

Images courtesy the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

Save the Date: Oxford Sorolla Symposium, 1 July 2019

A symposium to accompany the National Gallery’s major exhibition “Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light” (18 March–7th July 2019) will take place on at the Lecture Theatre, Weston Library, on 1 July 2019. The programme will include guest speakers such as Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, Richard Ormond, former Deputy Director of the National Portrait Gallery, Blanca Pons-Sorolla, co-curator of the exhibition and Sorolla’s great grand-daughter, amongst others. The symposium will be followed by a musical soirée and the projection of the award-winning “Sorolla: Viajes de la luz” documentary at St Cross College and Pusey Chapel, Oxford.

Detailed information will be posted shortly.

Mesoamerican Manuscripts, Oxford

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Mesoamerican Manuscripts: New Scientific Approaches and Interpretations

Conference, exhibition and workshop

31 May – 2 June
Weston Library, University of Oxford

Display and discussion of the Bodleian Library’s five pre-Colonial and early Colonial Mexican manuscripts: Codex Selden, Codex Bodley, Codex Mendoza, Codex Laud and The Roll of the New Fire (or Selden Roll).

Presents recent findings on the making and historical significance of the Bodleian’s and other early, pictorial Mesoamerican manuscripts, situating them in the context of the pre-Columbian and colonial societies that produced them, describing the world they depict, and reflecting upon their meaning in contemporary Mexico and beyond.

More information (including Programme and Registration): Click here.