Allison Caplan

Allison Caplan joins Yale as Assistant Professor in the Department of the History of Art. She is a scholar of the art of Late Postclassic and early colonial Mesoamerica, with a special focus on the Nahuas (Aztecs) of central Mexico. Her research interests include Indigenous Nahua art theory and aesthetics, issues of materiality and value, animal-human relations, and the relationship between visual expression and the Nahuatl language. Caplan is currently completing her first book, Our Flickering Creations: Concepts of Nahua Precious Art, which reconstructs Nahua theorizations of color, light, surface, and assemblage for art combining precious stones, feathers, and metals, referred to in Nahuatl as tlazohtli (“precious, or beloved things”). The project emerges from her dissertation, which won the Best Dissertation Award from the Association for Latin American Art. Caplan’s work has also appeared in a number of publications  

Caplan has studied the Nahuatl language for ten years, including through two Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) summer fellowships with the Instituto de Docencia e Investigaciones Etnológicas de Zacatecas (IDIEZ). Her research has also been supported by numerous grants and fellowships. Prior to joining the faculty at Yale, Caplan was Assistant Professor in the History of Art and Architecture at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the inaugural Austen-Stokes Ancient Americas Postdoctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins University. Caplan received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Art History and Latin American Studies from Tulane University and her B.A. in Comparative Literature and Society from Columbia University.