Deconstructing Conventual Franciscan Schools: Sixteenth-Century Architecture, Decoration, and Nahua Educational Spaces
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In the sixteenth century, during a process commonly called the “spiritual conquest,” evangelical priests refashioned Mesoamerican temples and schools into Christian churches and convents. Traditionally, scholars regarded this aspect of the Spanish Conquest as a top-down, foreigner-derived process of immediate cosmogenic transformation. Utilizing interdisciplinary methodologies and relying on Nahuatl voices, this thesis contributes to the recent scholarly effort to reinterpret spiritual conquest theory. This study compares and contrasts pre-contact and colonial schools, education techniques, and symbolic ornamentation in order to “read” the iconography and layout of the courtyard of the convent of San Andrés Calpan as a text. In the end, this thesis argues that visually-bilingual Nahua communities, using an existing architectural vernacular, created a nepantla or “a middle place” perfect for mutual misunderstandings and the persistence of local indigenous narratives alongside institutional Christian ones. Thus, Mesoamerican gods lived on in the very places designed to destroy them.
- Theses and Dissertations