Reading and Writing about the Visual Experience: Diego Rivera
Monday, Wednesday: 5:00-6:30pm
This course focuses on the influential career of the immensely popular artist Diego Rivera. A celebrated painter who traveled between Europe, Mexico, and the United States, Rivera straddled cubism and social realism, marxism and indigenismo, and evinced a romantic attachment to both machines and the natural environment. As we engage in an in-depth investigation of his work– and the primary and secondary literature related to it– we will explore the broader social and artistic landscapes of Mexico and the United States, where Rivera spent his most productive years as an artist (1920-1940). By focusing closely on individual works and their political contexts, students will learn to employ analytical frameworks that take race, class, gender, and nationhood into account. In particular, we will consider the role of the United States- vexed by its history of imperialism- in Diego Rivera’s attempts to conceive of a shared, Pan-American identity.
In the spirit of R1B seminars for first and second year undergraduates, this course aims to help students develop the reading, writing, and research skills they’ll need for their academic careers. As we work towards the completion of a 10-12 page undergraduate term paper, the course will guide students through the processes of research and analysis. Students will learn to evaluate arguments, engage with secondary scholarship, and conduct independent research both online and in the library. In addition, assignments and class time will concentrate on the formulation of an argument, the organization of ideas, and the features of clear, relevant writing. Course time will frequently be devoted to peer-review; students will learn to receive and provide feedback as part of the process of drafting and revising. In addition to developing a more broadly-applicable proficiency in researching and writing, we will acquire skills relevant specifically to visual and cultural fields that will enable students to look closely and critically.