Dr. Patrick Hajovsky, Assistant Professor of Art History, has published a chapter in a new book entitled Seeing Across Cultures in the Early Modern World. His contribution is “Without a Face: Voicing Moctezuma II’s Image at Chapultepec Park, Mexico City”. The volume was edited by Dana Leibsohn (Smith College) and Jeanette Favrot Peterson (University of California, Santa Barbara), both well-published scholars of Latin American art history.


Ashgate Publishing’s summary:

“What were the possibilities and limits of vision in the early modern world? How did political expansion, cross-cultural trade, scientific exploration and discrete religious practices require new ways of rendering the unknown visible, and of making what was seen knowable? Drawing upon experiences forged in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, Seeing Across Cultures argues that distinctive ways of habituating the eyes in the early modern period had epistemic consequences: in the realm of politics, daily practice and the imaginary. The essays here consider prints and panoramas, sculpted works of stone and corn pith cane - and their physical presence in the lived world – calling attention to the materiality and sensuality of visual experience. Anchored in writings on art history and visual culture, Seeing Across Cultures also engages histories of transcultural encounters and vision.”


A review from Kris Lane of Tulane University: 

‘Ranging from viceregal Mexico to Akbar’s India, the authors of this timely and diverse collection practice what theorists of early modern globalization have only lately preached: that the world was understood to be connected and mutually intelligible in the age of sail and gunpowder. There was plenty of wonder, mutual discovery, and violent misunderstanding, but the hard nationalist and regionalist divisions came later, and for too long they clouded scholars’ vision of the early modern past. In addition to their efforts to reveal early modern worlds in their own terms, the authors offer new insights to scholars beyond art history both by rigorous comparisons and through re-examination of venerable theoretical models and disciplinary boundaries. It is sure to provoke considerable discussion, and likely some controversy.’


Scholar Claire Farago (University of Colorado at Boulder, University of York) discusses Hajovsky’s work in the book’s final chapter, “Seeing Across Time: Understanding Visuality”:

“Sense Experience as a Culturally Specific Category: The studies included in this volume exemplify the manner in which the geographical, cultural, chronological, and conceptual boundaries of the Renaissance as it is usually defined need to be redrawn. Taken as a whole, these in-depth exercises in cross-cultural analysis call into question the complacency of the Western language of the senses, of mental image, and of discursive knowledge. It turns out that mental images are equally important for Sufi thought, though they participate in a different worldview. Perhaps the outstanding example of the manner in which encountering theories of vision different from our own puts into question assumptions about the neutrality of our terms is the chapter by Patrick Hajovsky on colonial interpretations of a pre-contact Mexica representation of a sacred ruler. Hajovsky examines the incommensurability of signifying practices due to culturally different ways of conjuring the relation of the visual to a worldview. The sculpted likeness of a Mexica lord at Chapultepec is identified primarily by his name glyph, which subordinates the category of individualism to the ideal of deification. However, interpretations of the sculpture informed by European ideas about portrait, identity, and visuality treat the representation as a portrait based on physical appearance. Hajovsky argues convincingly that “visuality” resonates differently across these intersecting cultural configurations. The fundamental paradigm or model operating in central Mexican though acknowledges only one principle of being, thus the concept that sight resembles smells, which in turn resemble sounds, is intended to convey “phenomenological associations between cognate essences” that can be accessed through language and visual art. Nahuatl metaphors and metonyms go beyond the visual and aural registers to convey a synaesthetic paradigm very different from Western concepts of the discreetly functioning special senses. Within a Mesoamerican context, multi-sensorial experiences convey the fundamental principle of being, which missionaries like Diego Durán and mestizo historians including Fernando de Alvarado Tezozomoc (mis)understand in terms commensurate with European notions of historical truth.”



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