Allen J Christenson
Comparative Arts & Letters
American studies, Art History, Modernism, Victorian
The skills I try to bring to teaching include the ability to communicate a respect for other cultures and modes of artistic and literary expression in a way that promotes seeing the world from new perspectives. I encourage my students to look beyond the surface of whatever they are called upon to evaluate and to think about works of literature, visual art, music, or architecture critically and creatively.
The primary focus of my research work has been in the field of Maya literature, art and culture, both Precolumbian and contemporary. This is an exciting line of investigation because of recent epigraphic advances in the study of the ancient Maya hieroglyphic script which have made it possible for the first time to read the history and cosmology of the Maya written by their own scribes as much as two thousand years prior to the arrival of Europeans in the fifteenth century. In addition, new archaeological discoveries are revealing elements of Maya culture that are revolutionizing our perception of this important ancient civilization.
- Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Art and Literature
- Victorian British Art and Literature
- Early Modern Art and Literature
- American Art and Literature
- Latin American Art and Literature
Books (Peer Reviewed)
- Christenson, Allen J. (in press for 2021). The Title of Totonicapán. Louisville: University Press of Colorado.
- Holley Moyes and Allen J. Christenson (in press for 2021). The Popol Vuh in Myth, Cosmology, and Ritual Practice. Louisville: University Press of Colorado.
- Christenson, Allen J. (2016). Bearing the Burden of the Ancients: Maya Ceremonies of World Renewal. Austin: The University of Texas Press.
- Christenson, Allen J. (2012). Popol Vuh: Libro Sagrado de los Mayas. Tr. Allen Christenson and Gloria Melendez. Mexico City: Conaculta and Fondo de Cultura Económica, pp. 495.
- Christenson, Allen J. (2007). Popol Vuh: The Sacred Book of the Maya. 2nd revised edition. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, pp. 327.
- Christenson, Allen J. (2003/4). Popol Vuh. 2 volumes. London: John Hunt Publishing, pp. 327, 320.
- Christenson, Allen J. (2001). Art and Society in a Highland Maya Community. Austin: University of Texas Press, pp. 258.
- Christenson, Allen J. (2000). Popol Vuh: Tales of First Beginnings From the Ancient K’iche’-Maya. Provo: Brigham Young University Press, pp. 278.
- Christenson, Allen J., Frauke Sachse, and Holley Moyes (in press for 2021). “Introduction: The Popol Vuh as a Window into the Mind of the Ancient Maya.” in Moyes and Christenson, ed. The Popol Vuh in Myth, Cosmology, and Ritual Practice. Louisville: University Press of Colorado.
- Christenson, Allen J. (in press for 2021). “’For It Is With Words That We Are Sustained’: The Popol Vuh and the Creation of the First People.” In Moyes and Christenson, ed. The Popol Vuh in Myth, Cosmology, and Ritual Practice. Louisville: University Press of Colorado.
- Christenson, Allen J. (in press for 2021). “The Cultural Legacy of the Popol Vuh.” In the Oxford Handbook of the Maya. Ed. Thomas Garrison. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Christenson, Allen J. and Gabrielle Vail (in press for 2021). “Animal Manifestations of the Creator Deities in the Maya Codices and the Popol Vuh.” In Birds and Beasts of Ancient Mesoamerica: Animal Symbolism in the Postclassic Period. Ed. Susan Milbrath and Elizabeth Baquedano. Louisville: University Press of Colorado.
- Christenson, Allen J. (2019). “The Lady of the Lake: The Virgin Mary and the Spanish Conquest of the Maya.” In Seeking Conflict in Mesoamerica: Operational, Cognitive, and Experiential Approaches. Eds. Shawn G. Morton and Meaghan M. Peuramaki-Brown. Louisville: University Press of Colorado.
- Christenson, Allen J. (2018). “The Man at the Crossroads: Francisco (Mapla’s) Sojuel, Ancestral Guardian of the Tz’utujil Maya.” In The Faces of Resistance: Maya Heroes, Power and Identity. Ed. S. Ashley Kistler. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.
- Christenson, Allen J. (2017). “’Who Shall Be a Sustainer?’—Maize and Human Mediation in the Maya Popol Vuh.” In A Global History of Literature and the Environment. Eds. John Parham and Louise Westling. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Christenson, Allen J. (2015). Preface to Songs that Make the Road Dance. By Linda O’Brien-Rothe. Austin: The University of Texas Press.
- Christenson, Allen J. (2012). “The Use of Chiasmus by the Ancient K’iche’ Maya.” In Parallel Worlds: Genre, Discourse, and Poetics in Contemporary, Colonial, and Classic Maya Literature. Eds. Kerry M. Hull and Michael D. Carrasco. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, pp. 311-336.
- Christenson, Allen J. (2011). “The World Tree and Maya Theology.” In The Tree of Life: From Eden to Eternity. Ed. John W. Welch and Donald W. Perry. Provo: The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, Brigham Young University, pp. 151-170. Invited
- Christenson, Allen J. (2010). “Maize Was Their Flesh: Ritual Feasting in the Maya Highlands.” In Pre-Columbian Foodways: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Food, Culture, and Markets in Ancient Mesoamerica. Eds. John Edward Staller and Michael Carrasco. New York: Springer, pp. 577-600. Invited.
- Christenson, Allen J. (2009). “Ancestral Presence at the Navel of the World: Francisco Sojuel and Santiago Atitlán.” In Landscapes of Origin in the Americas: Creation Narratives Linking Ancient Places and Present Communities. Ed. Jessica Joyce Christie. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, pp. 98-122. Invited
- Christenson, Allen J. (2008). “Places of Emergence: Sacred Mountains and Cofradía Ceremonies.” In Pre-Columbian Landscapes of Creation and Origin. Ed. John Edward Staller. New York: Springer, pp. 95-122. Invited
- Christenson, Allen J. (2007). “Sacred Bundle Cults in Highland Guatemala.” In Sacred Bundles: Ritual Acts of Wrapping and Binding in Mesoamerica. Eds. F. Kent Reilly III and Julia Kappelman. Barnardsville, NC: Boundary End Archaeology Research Center, pp. 226-246. Invited
- Christenson, Allen J. (2007). “Their Vision Passed Beyond the Mountains: The Maya and Divine Sight.” In Look Close, See Far: A Cultural Portrait of the Maya. Ed. Bruce T. Martin. New York: George Braziller, pp. 27-35. Invited
- Christenson, Allen J. (2006). “You Are What You Speak: Maya as the Language of Maize.” Maya Ethnicity. Ed. Frauke Sachse. Acta Mesoamericana, Volume 19. Verlag Anton Saurwein, pp. 209-216.
- Christenson, Allen J. (2005). “Dancing in the Footsteps of the Ancestors.” In Lords of Creation: The Origins of Sacred Maya Kingship. Eds. Virginia Fields and Dorie Reents-Budet. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, pp. 90-96. Invited
- Christenson, Allen J. (2003). “Manipulating the Cosmos: Shamanic Tables Among the Highland Maya.” Chapter in Mesas and Cosmologies in Middle America. Ed. Douglas Sharon. San Diego Museum Papers 42. San Diego: Museum of Man, pp. 93-104. Invited
- Christenson, Allen J. (2016). “Indigenous Folk Saints.” In Encyclopedia of Latin American Religions. Ed. Henri Gooren. New York City: Springer/Meteor.
- Christenson, Allen J. (2016). “Indigenous Cofradías.” In Encyclopedia of Latin American Religions. Ed. Henri Gooren. New York City: Springer/Meteor.
I believe that citizenship and the service it requires allows me to honor my profession and the university in ways that are perhaps a bit more selfless and rewarding than those tasks for which I am materially compensated. I support the mission statement of the Department of Humanities, Classics, and Comparative Literature, as well as that of the university as a whole. I am gratified that Brigham Young University is dedicated to being a positive influence for good in the world.
- Principal Researcher and Consultant for Maya Dynasties Project, a long-term project to
document genealogical information for all known Pre-Columbian Maya individuals
- Committee Member for preparing the exhibition, catalogue, and accompanying film for “Lords
of Creation: Origins of Sacred Kingship Among the Maya,” developed by the Los
Angeles County Museum of Art (Curator Virginia M. Fields and Dorie Reents-Budet (2001-2005).
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art (September 10, 2005-January 2, 2006;
- Dallas Museum of Art, February 12-May 7, 2006;
- Metropolitan Museum of Art, June 11-September 10, 2006.
Consultant and Reader for the following University Presses:
- University Press of Colorado
- The University of Florida Press
- The University of Oklahoma Press
- The University of Texas Press
- The University of Alabama Press
- The University of Pennsylvania Press
- Brigham Young University
- Thomson/Wadsworth Publishing
- Advisor and Online Expert Precolumbian Maya Art, Theology, and Architecture, Maya Quest Program, The Quest Channel (2000 to 2002).
University Committee Participation:
- University Rank and Status Committee. 2015-2018
- General Education Taskforce. 2014-present
- Board of Directors Member, New World Archaeology Foundation, 2009-present
- Director, Guatemalan Field Studies Program, Santa Catarina Palopo, Guatemala, 2008
- Co-Director, London Study Abroad, January-July, 2007
- University Faculty Awards Committee, 2004-6 (chair in 2006)
- Project Reviewer, Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts (ISPART), 2004-
- Department Representative University Museum Committee, 2001-2004
- Affiliated Faculty Member, Department of Art History, 2000-present
- Affiliated Faculty Member, Department of Anthropology/Archaeology, 2000-present
- Member, Advisory Board, Precolumbian Projects, for the Center for the Preservation of Ancient
- Religious Texts (CPART), 1999-
- Member, Search Committee for Head Curator/Asst. Curator, BYU Museum of Art, 1999-2000
- Member, Gordon B. Hinckley Scholarship Committee, 1998-2002
- Member, Latin American Studies/Studies Abroad Advisory Board, 1998-present
- Faculty Affiliate of the Kennedy Center (Latin American Studies), 1998-present
- Proposal Reviewer, ORCA Undergraduate Research Scholarship Program, 1998-2001
College Committee Participation:
- College Rank and Status Committee. 2014-2015
- Barker/Christenson Lectureship Committee. 2013-2016
- College Awards Committee. 2013-2016
Department Committee Participation:
- Teaching Improvement Study Group Leader. Fall 2016
- Interdisciplinary Humanities Senior Seminar Course Coordinator. 2015-present
- Interdisciplinary Humanities Art History Track Advisor. 2015- present.
- Professional Development Committee. Chair, 2014-present
- Graduate Program Coordinator, Department of Humanities, Classics, and Comparative Literature, 2004-2006; 2008-2012 Part-Time Faculty Committee, Member, 2005
- Internship Coordinator, Department of Humanities, Classics, and Comparative Literature, 2004-2005
- Ralph A. Britsch Lecture Committee Chair, 2004
- Honors Coordinator, Department of Humanities, Classics, and Comparative Literature, 2000-2003
- New Faculty Search Committee, Member, 2001, 2005, 2015
- Latin American Humanities Course Development Committee, Chair, 2000-2001