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Course Descriptions

Pre-Colombian Art of Central Mexico: This course will introduce students to the artistic traditions of Pre-Colombian Central Mexico from 900 BCE to the Spanish Conquest of 1521 CE. From the great military state of Teotihuacan to the expansive empire of the Aztecs, students will discover the temples, pyramids, and palaces of Mexico’s great Pre-Colombian powers. Lectures, field trips to archaeological sites, and museum visits will also feature a wide variety of portable and monumental artistic production, from stone sculpture to painted murals and codices, featherwork, mosaics and metalwork. Course topics will focus on the roles of art and architecture in the political maneuverings, religious practices, and cosmological structures of Central Mexico’s pre-Hispanic period. Additionally, students will be introduced to the continuing legacy of Pre-Colombian cultures and images in Mexico’s modern artistic tradition among artists such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Rufino Tamayo.

Spanish Colonial Art of Mexico: This course will introduce students to the art of Mexico’s colonial period (from the Spanish Conquest of 1521 to the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence in 1810) through in-class and on-site lectures at various missions, museums, and metropolitan churches. Through a variety of topics including urban planning, religious and governmental architecture, sacred and secular painting and sculpture, we will focus on the unique culture which emerged as a consequence of the Spanish conquest of Mexico and the clash of European and indigenous cultures. Issues of race, identity, and, most particularly, the question of hybridity and transculturation will be investigated. Students will also be introduced to the pervasive presence of the artistic traditions of Mexico’s colonial period in the advent of modernism, and the meanings such traditions acquired in revolutionary contexts.


Through the interweaving of material from both courses, students will have the opportunity to experience Mexico City as a topographic palimpsest in which layers of the Pre-Colombian and Spanish Colonial pasts are superimposed together with post-revolutionary material to create a complex tapestry of historical referents and visual traditions.


Pre-requisites: ENG 1010, ENG1020, and ARTH 1500, 1600, or 1700*

*Students may be able to participate without fulfilling all pre-requisites with permission from program leaders.


Other requirements: Students must enroll in both courses to participate in the program.

All participants must be current Metro State students or apply to Metro State by the beginning of the Spring 2013. Students from other universities are welcome but must be enrolled for the course as Metro students. Contact the program leaders for more information.

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