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Invitation to World Literature

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Popol Vuh (30:00)

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This video introduces the Mayan creation story in all its grotesque humor, luminous beauty, and unique language. See the Mayan writing and drawing that originally brought this story to life, and follow its journey around the world.

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Speakers in the video

Patricia Amlin
Patricia Amlin
Filmmaker Popol Vuh: The Creation Myth and the Maya
Ms. Amlin created the 1987 animated film Popol Vuh: The Creation Myth of the Maya. It took her more than ten years to complete this project, for which she says she had the help and prayers of Mayan elders. She also served as director of the Animation Program at San Francisco State University.
Michael Coe
Michael Coe
Archaeologist, Author, Breaking The Mayan Code, and Professor of Anthropology, Yale University
Dr. Coe is professor of anthropology, emeritus, at Yale University. He is also an archaeologist, epigrapher, and author, and has been studying the Mayan civilization for more than fifty years. He is regarded as one of the foremost Mayan scholars of the twentieth century.
Allen Christenson
Allen Christenson
Professor of Humanities, Brigham Young University and Translator, Popol Vuh: The Sacred Book of the Maya
Dr. Christenson is a Mayan translator, ethnographer, and art historian of pre-Colombian cultures who has spent the past thirty-five years in this field.
David Damrosch
David Damrosch
Professor of Comparative Literature, Harvard University
Dr. Damrosch is professor of comparative literature at Harvard University and the author of several books, including What Is World Literature?
Miriam
Miriam "Shuni" Giron
Co-Creator, Galactic Mayan Project
Ms. Giron is founder and president of Kasa Kame, a non-profit organization in Guatemala that promotes culture, art, folklore, environmental awareness, and Mayan wisdom. She is also co-creator of the Galactic Mayan Project, which brought together forty international artists, including the group Van Orthal Puppets, to bring a puppet show based on Popol Vuh to Guatemala in late 2009.
Richard Hansen
Richard Hansen
Archeologist, Idaho State University
Dr. Hansen is an archaeologist and senior scientist at the Institute for Mesoamerican Research in the Department of Archaeology at Idaho State University. He is also the director of the Mirador Basin project in Northern Guatemala and served as a historical consultant on the Mayan-inspired 2006 Mel Gibson movie Apocalypto.
Matthew Ritchie
Matthew Ritchie
Artist
Mr. Ritchie is a British-born artist working in several media, including painting, video, drawing, and animation. Much of his work has been influenced by mythology, both personal and cultural, and in 2009 he collaborated with indie rock musicians to create the Popol Vuh-inspired multimedia production The Long Count, which debuted at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Carlos Rafael Rivera
Carlos Rafael Rivera
Composer, Popol Vuh (Four Mayan Dance Scenes for Orchestra)
Mr. Rivera is a composer who spent part of his childhood living in Guatemala. He has composed music for film, television, and several of America's preeminent ensembles. He lectures widely on pop as well as classical music and teaches at the University of Southern California and the Pasadena Conservatory of Music. Among his compositions is Popol Vuh (Four Mayan Dance Scenes for Orchestra).
Mo Rocca
Mo Rocca
Culture Critic
Mr. Rocca is a writer, comedian, and political satirist who regularly appears on NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me and CBS's Sunday Morning. He has written children's television programs, contributed to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and written a news blog.
Diana Taylor
Diana Taylor
Professor of Performing Arts, New York University
Dr. Taylor is professor of performance studies at New York University and is also founder/director of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. Her work focuses on Latin American and U.S. theater and performance. Popol Vuh has been the subject of many of her books and articles.