Conference: Visual and Textual Dialogues in Colonial Mexico and Europe: The Florentine Codex

Friday, April 17 & Saturday, April 18, 2015

A conference at UCLA Royce Hall and the Getty Center

—organized by Jeanette Favrot Peterson (University of California, Santa Barbara) and Kevin Terraciano (University of California, Los Angeles)

Please note: The conference will be held on Friday, April 17 in UCLA’s Royce Hall, Room 314, and Saturday, April 18 at the Getty Center's Museum Lecture Hall.

The conference considers how the many Nahua contributors to the Florentine Codex and their Spanish interpreter, Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, used alphabetic and visual texts to represent themselves and their cultures to mixed audiences in Mexico and Europe. Participants examine the epistemological implications of a process that culminated in this unique manuscript, the product of a complex intercultural dialogue.

Papers analyze the differences and correspondence between information presented in the Nahuatl- and Spanish-language columns and in the manuscript’s hundreds of images in order to test the idea of the Florentine Codex as “three texts in one.” Although the focus remains squarely on the manuscript, diverse methodologies explore internal and external relationships of text and image. Sahagún and his scribe-artists relied on an eclectic body of imported and traditional indigenous sources—from European illustrated books and graphics to Mesoamerican screenfolds. As a site of multiple, contested literacies, the Florentine raises many questions, such as issues of authorship, the authority of text, identity formation, and gender and social relationships in New Spain. Also of concern are the reproduction, presentation, and reception of the images over time and how scholars have used the manuscript's twelve books and three “texts” selectively to study a wide range of topics. Building on an impressive but scattered body of interdisciplinary, international scholarship, the conference attempts to open new avenues of research on the Florentine Codex and the early modern cultural exchange that this extraordinary manuscript represents.


  • Molly H. Bassett, Georgia State University
  • Elizabeth Hill Boone, Tulane University
  • Pablo Escalante Gonzalbo, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Jeanette Favrot Peterson, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Diana Magaloni Kerpel, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
  • Barbara E. Mundy, Fordham University
  • Guilhem Olivier, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Eloise Quiñones Keber, Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • Lisa Sousa, Occidental College
  • Kevin Terraciano, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Stephanie Wood, University of Oregon

The conference is co-hosted by the UCLA Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies & William Andrews Clark Memorial Library and the Getty Research Institute, and co-sponsored by the UCLA Latin American Institute & Center for Mexican Studies and the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

Registration Deadline: April 14, 2015

Click here to register for Friday, April 17th session at UCLA.

Click here to register for the Saturday, April 18, session at the Getty Center.