Reading and Writing about Visual Experience: Image and/as Identity in Colonial Mexico
Monday, Wednesday: 8:00-9:30pm
This course explores how visual and material culture both reflect and construct Mexican identities over time by considering the role images play in the formation of a shared imagined community. By looking closely at select objects from the sixteenth century through the twentieth century, we will see how the colonized peoples of Mexico imagined their histories through identity-making and how they were subject to the colonial power’s attempt to define their identities. Across five centuries of art history–beginning with sixteenth-century codices, seventeenth-century “conquest” paintings, eighteenth-century Casta paintings, nineteenth-century landscape paintings, and concluding with twentieth-century performance art– we can discern identities being formed, reshaped, elided, reconstructed, and even corrupted. These formations subvert easy explanations; through case studies, we will explore the complex ways in which propaganda and mythologies shape national and other identities.
Over the course of the semester, you will be exposed to and practice increasingly complex methods of visual analysis, and you will learn how to conduct research that can productively inform your interpretations of Mexican and other artworks. During the second half of the semester, you will develop a research project culminating in a 10–12-page paper on a topic related to the course.