MEXICO: Pre-Columbian Architecture and Traditional Crafts
Faculty: Winifred Lambrecht (RISD Theory & History of Art & Design/History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences) & Sean Nesselrode Moncada (RISD Theory & History of Art & Design)
6 credits (THAD-W135/HPSS-W235-01) | Dates: TBA
This travel course is a cross-disciplinary collaboration between HPSS and THAD; the THAD component addresses colonial, modern, and contemporary arts in several regions of Mexico, including Mexico City, where we will view murals by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco, Frida Kahlo's house and museum, the Palacio de Bellas Artes, and the world-renowned Museo de Antropología; Puebla, known for its ceramics production and its ties to early colonial commerce, as well as nearby Cholula with its many colonial churches; Veracruz, a port city distinctive for its ties to the Caribbean and as a site of the importation of enslaved Africans; and Mérida, the most culturally active city in the Yucatán Peninsula, with access to several early and classic Maya archaeological sites, as well as a vibrant contemporary arts scene. The THAD portion of the course will cover the colonial, modern, and contemporary periods in terms of artistic, architectural, and visual production, considering how indigenous pre-colonial techniques and traditions (addressed in the HPSS portion of the course) are revived, reinvented, and synthesized with European, African, and Asian styles, materials, and practices. Prior to leaving for Mexico, the students will be given a illustrated lecture with an overview of Mexico's past cultural and political history, including the development of major civilizations throughout Mexico, the conquest of the region by the Spanish in the 16th c., the Mexican revolution, and the current political structure of the country. During our travel, each site visit will be accompanied by a brief contextual introduction orienting the students to the site's contributions to Mexico's history and cultural context. The course hopes to not only inform students about the culture and history of our neighbors to the South, but also give them knowledge and an appreciation for the many contributions that Mexican past civilizations and contemporary Mexican culture have provided globally, and continue to bring to us. We also hope that our traveling students will learn about group dynamics, develop sensitivity towards a culture that might be foreign to them, be willing to explore a host of new traditions, acquire new knowledge, and discard possible stereotypes and preconceptions about an American region to which so many of our US citizens and immigrants have a connection to. For the THAD portion of the course, students will be required to write two short papers (3 pages, double-spaced) that reflect upon the readings and/or the sites visited. They should be focused, organized responses that include a clear thesis (or guiding idea) rather than being a stream-of-conscious response, but may incorporate personal reflections, impressions, and opinions. The course will conclude with a focused, researched response (5-7 pages) that engages with some aspect of Mexican art, architecture, or visual culture, from the pre-colonial period to the present day. It may incorporate personal reflections and impressions, but it should reference and cite specific texts that we have read in the course, as well as artworks and/or sites we have visited during our trip. Papers will be due after our return from Mexico. Students' grades will take into account their participation and inquisitiveness in/about the various site visits, as well as their level of inquiry and critical engagement demonstrated in their written responses.
This is a co-requisite course. Students must plan and register for THAD-W135 and HPSS-W235. Students will receive 6 liberal arts credits.
Estimated Travel Cost: $3,379 (includes airfare, tuition, accommodation, field trips, local transportation, group dinners + some meals, museum entrances, health and travel insurance).