Western Libraries Undergraduate Research Awards (WLURAs)

Quetzalcoatl in Children’s Mythology


My research project focuses on the representation of the god Quetzalcoatl in myths written for children; Quetzalcoatl, also known as the Feathered Serpent, is a deity of the Toltec, Mayan and Aztec communities who was said to have descended to the world to create what we know today as humans (Leeming). Though Quetzalcoatl is commonly studied through an archaeological or historical perspective, few studies analyze his relationship with children’s mythology. Therefore, this study aims to fill a gap in the existing literature by correlating the deity with myths often read by young audiences. Findings of the investigation are communicated on a website that intends to reach a wider audience who may not have access to academic resources and databases.

How did you choose your research topic and/or design your research question? (200 words)

Before crafting my research questions, I read a few myths and legends from the Spanish-speaking world written for children. As I completed these readings, I noticed that Quetzalcoatl would appear in various texts, with specific characteristics highlighted (e.g., wisdom, bravery, tenacity). The research questions chosen for my research project are both a product of my personal interest and of informed perspectives based on the existing literature regarding Quetzalcoatl. All consulted secondary sources contributed to the creation of two overarching research questions that aim to organize the findings in an academic framework on a website. My research questions are the following:

  1. What topics are noted repeatedly in children’s literature that tend to be relevant in life later as an adult?
  2. In which way is the god Quetzalcóatl represented in three different children’s myths: Quetzalcóatl, El conejo de la luna and La leyenda del maíz?

How did you find library/archives services and resources for your research topic? (200 words)

My primary sources are the following myths and legends: Quetzalcóatl, El conejo de la luna y La leyenda del maíz. I was able to find these sources by using one of the search strategies provided by a librarian: Google Books, as well as through searches on Omni with keywords from my research project. Another primary source included on my website is artwork, which is a visual representation of the god that is featured in all of the primary sources. After gathering all the primary sources, I looked for secondary ones to develop an academic framework informed by research conducted by other scholars. One of these works is by Margarita Palacios Sierra (1981), who provides a biography about Quetzalcoatl and his diverse representations within mythology and literature. Likewise, David Carrasco (2000) studies an extensive panorama of Quetzalcoatl from a historical perspective and explains his role as the creator of human race. Additionally, Jacques Lafaye (2002) focuses on the building of a spiritual conscience in Mexican society through Quetzalcoatl and Our Lady of Guadalupe, which serves as a foundational text for my project. Finally, Alfonso Caso (1953) provides information about the characteristics the god possesses, contributing to the understanding of his representation.

What library/archives services and resources did you use to perform your research? (200 words)

In the Spanish 3531F course, librarian Jason Dyck gave a presentation about the services offered by the university to help with completing research projects. Specifically, he showed students how to use online databases and in-person library services when looking for primary and secondary sources. Applying the knowledge from his presentation, my first step was to access the database, Oxford Reference, to define the key concepts of my study. Later, I used the Library Catalogue service, which resulted in various secondary sources to support the corpus of my research project. Another important tool was Research Guides, as it directed me to other useful resources such as WorldCat. Moreover, Jason Dyck suggested that students sign out physical books from one of Western’s libraries, as there are some texts that are not available online: this was the case with one of my secondary sources. I performed a search using Omni to look for Jacques Lafaye’s book. Once found, I noticed it was not available online, so I decided to request an interlibrary loan and was then able to obtain the book. decided, All the tools were accessed with my student login and all sources were fortunately open access materials.