Undergraduate Seminar: Mural Painting in the Ancient Americas
In this seminar we will study the mural paintings of palaces, temples, and tombs from pre-Hispanic Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru. Our corpus includes the ancient Maya sites of San Bartolo, Bonampak, Xultún, and Calakmul; Teotihuacan and Cacaxtla in Central Mexico; and the South American sites of Ventarrón, Moche, Huaca Cao, Pañamarca, and others. Emphasis will be on the early, pre-Mexica (Aztec) and pre-Inca periods, but we will also consider colonial and modern legacies of indigenous subjects and mural painters in Latin America. Areas of discussion include: artistic techniques and materials, iconography, text and image, narrative and ornament, style and ethnicity, courtly culture and religious practice. We will also discuss the pragmatics of conservation and illustration and the politics of “discovery,” collection, and exportation of cultural patrimony. Readings will be drawn from art historical and archaeological literature and critical sources on space and proxemics, the built environment, and embodiment. Spanish reading ability is useful, but all required readings will be in English. No prior knowledge of Pre-Columbian or Latin American art history is required. A visit to the Harald Wagner collection of Teotihuacan murals at the deYoung Museum is expected. Open to graduate enrollment, subject to instructor approval.