During the pandemic, English professors Edgar Garcia and Timothy Harrison began to notice connections between two seemingly different texts also written in moments of crisis.
John Milton’s epic “Paradise Lost” was written after the English Civil War once the poet had lost his vision. The “Popol Vuh”—sometimes called “the Mayan Bible”—was written by Maya scholars while living under Spanish colonization and forced religious conversion.
Both tell creation stories, narratives about how the world and its inhabitants formed. And both were written within the same historical moment—though on either side of the Atlantic.
In “Creations: Popol Vuh and Paradise Lost,” the two scholars combined expertise for an experimental graduate course this Spring Quarter comparing the two texts, not just as works of literature, but also as two pieces of the trans-Atlantic world puzzle.
“Thinking through ‘Paradise Lost’ and ‘Popol Vuh’ together has helped me to see, with a finer focus, that creations always happen in historical time,” said Garcia, who recently published a book of essays on the “Popol Vuh.” “They don't happen out of nothing.”