2016 Johnston Award for Best Conference Paper

Alexandra Johnston Award
Award Year: 

Winner: Leeming, Ben (University of Albany, SUNY). “Aztec Antichrist: Transculturation and Native Identity on Stage in Two Newly-Discovered Nahuatl Religious Dramas.” MLA, Austin, TX, 2016.

Lemming explores two virtually unknown early modern Antichrist plays found in the manuscript Miscelánea en Lengua Mexicana by the author Fabián de Aquino. After offering summaries of both texts, Lemming analyzes “Aquino’s appropriation and staging of Christian doctrinal discourse,” focusing on how “he skillfully wove the language of catechisms and confession manuals into the lines uttered by his characters” (1). Lemming also suggests that “[Aquino’s] adopting of doctrinal discourse as an act of appropriation...performed counter-narratives which subtly pushed back against the negative representations of indigenous Christians so common in the discourse of the time” (2). Lemming’s subject matter is intriguing and original; certainly working on these previously unexplored plays fits well with the spirit of Alexandra Johnston’s own research. Lemming also compellingly demonstrates that Aquino’s characterization of the native converts resists colonial codings of them as spiritually degenerate.

Award Committee: Frank Napolitano, Vicki Hamblin and Cameron Hunt McNabb (chair). Awards announcement and presentation took place during the MRDS business meeting in May at the annual International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan.