Cogut Institute for the Humanities
Center for the Study of the Early Modern World

Jessica Stair

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, History of Art and Architecture, Center for the Early Modern World, and Cogut Institute for the Humanities
Research interests Artistic and Scribal Practices of Colonial Mexico, Pictorial Forms Across Genre and Media


From 2019 to 2021, Jessica Stair was a Mellon Postdoctoral Research Associate affiliated with the Department of History of Art and Architecture and the Center for the Study of the Early Modern World, where she taught courses on the visual culture of colonial Latin America. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on the indigenous artistic and scribal practices of colonial Mexico. She is currently working on a book manuscript based on her dissertation, “Indigenous Literacies in the Techialoyan Manuscripts of New Spain,” which considers how indigenous artists and scribes invented new iconographies and modes of reading and writing during the late-colonial period. At a time when the alphabetic script had become a predominant mode of conveying information, indigenous communities marshaled pictures in an effort to secure the legitimacy of their communities in the face of restrictive viceregal policies. She argues that the artists of the Techialoyans drew upon 16th-century indigenous scribal practices, artistic traditions from Europe, and the contemporary pictorial climate to invent new communicative forms that relied not only on pictures and alphabetic script but on the invocation of oral discourses and performative practices, as well. Her other research projects center on the transformation of pictorial forms across genre and media; the authority of images within juridical settings; and the expurgation of images in the early modern Spanish-American World.