City, Temple, Stage: Eschatological Architecture and Liturgical Theatrics in New Spain

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"City, Temple, Stage is a new interpretation of the art, architecture, and liturgy created for the conversion of Aztecs and other native peoples of central Mexico by European Franciscan missionaries in the mid-sixteenth century. Jaime Lara contends that the design of missionary centers, or so-called "fortress monasteries," can only be understood against the backdrop of the eschatological concerns of the age and the missionary techniques of the mendicant friars. Lara argues that these architectural constructions are quasi-theatrical sets for elaborate educational and liturgical events that served as rehearsals for the last age of world history." "By analyzing the iconography associated with the Aztec religion and with Euro-Christian apocalyptic texts, Lara has been able to trace a consistent thread through two distinct religious and liturgical imaginations." Lara's narrative is supported by more than 225 images.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This is a brilliant, thorough, and innovative contribution to the studies of Spanish American colonial architecture, throughout which the author shows great erudition and command of visual and literary sources.” —Hispanic American Historical Review

"[Lara's] discussion in City, Temple, Stage of the convento in the medieval European street-theater context, so richly detailed and beautifully illustrated in color with many images from contemporary manuscripts, is the most comprehensive yet written." —College Art Association

"Jaime Lara's central thesis in this well-researched and copiously illustrated volume is that the sixteenth-century mendicant architectural complexes of colonial Mexico embodied the friars' eschatological and millennial ideas to an extent previously unrecognized. Lara interweaves these two topics more thoroughly than any previous scholar has done. . . . The volume is highly informative about Old World apocalyptic ideas and their execution in New Spain, and it makes a valuable addition to the literature on a colonial interchange that, although often examined, is still incompletely understood." —American Historical Review

"The most beautiful and complex study of 2004 was Jaime Lara's City, Temple, Stage. Incredibly versed in iconography and architecture and all the ramifications of the confluence of Aztec, Christian, Jewish and Muslim religion, Lara deals with—this is the subtitle—Eschatological Architecture and Liturgical Theatrics in New Spain. Almost 240 color illustrations give the book a grandeur equal to the scholarship. Huge contributions are to be found here. . . . This is a treasure check, intellectually exciting." —Bibliotheque d'Humanisme et Renaissance

"Lara offers an absolutely fascinating iconographic study of the churches of early colonial Mexico; it is richly illustrated in color and documented in detail. . . . With excellent notes and bibliography, this publication is rich in material of all sorts including Euro-Christian apocalyptic texts. Highly recommended." —Choice

"City, Temple, Stage is Jaime Lara's intense, complex study of the religious architecture of conversion in sixteenth-century New Spain. It is an attractive book, with glossy pages and designed as a square rather than a rectangle. . . .Lara's book is a powerful presentation of a host of compelling ideas about the origins of mission architecture, iconography, and liturgy as it was applied in New Spain and across the New World. . . . He has made an immense contribution to our understanding of the missionization process." —Sixteenth Century Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780268033644
  • Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2004
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Jaime Lara is associate professor of Christian art and architecture and chair of the Program in Religion and the Arts at Yale University Divinity School and Yale Institute of Sacred Music.

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Table of Contents

The architecture of conversion 17
The visual imagination and the end of history 41
The Indian Jerusalem 91
The new temple in the new Zion 111
The cosmic tree 151
Stages for rituals of conversion 177
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