Spring 2015 Courses

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LAS 1300. Introduction to the Arts of Ancient Mexico and Peru.
A chronological survey of the arts created by major cultures of ancient Mexico and Peru. Mesoamerican cultures studied include the Olmec, Teotihuacan, the Maya, and the Aztec up through the arrival of the Europeans. South American cultures such as Chavin, Naca, and Inca are examined. Painting, sculpture, and architecture are considered in the context of religion and society. Readings in translation include Mayan myth and chronicles of the conquest.
LAS 2105. The Maya.
Examines the historical and contemporary Maya from pre-Columbian times to the present, with special attention paid to the Maya of Guatemala and the Yucatán peninsula. Readings include Spanish chronicles, Maya testimonies, travelers’ accounts, scholarly monographs, and ethnographies. Among the topics explored are: the importance of family, community, and spirituality; resistance and adaptation to the conquest; the challenges of acculturation; and the importance of the environment in shaping material life.
LAS 2302. Demons and Deliverance in the Atlantic World.
Seminar. Examines beliefs and practices having to do with evil spirits, demons, and the Devil in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, the United States, and Western Europe. The primary focus is exorcism. What is it? How has it been practiced? By whom? Why? The approach to the subject is historical, transnational, and diasporic; examines changes and continuities across the Atlantic over the past five hundred years, beginning with cultural encounters between Africans, native Americans, and Europeans during the colonial period and continuing up through the reverse missionization and the new African diaspora of the present day. Readings include works of ethnography, anthropology, theology, history, personal narrative, and fiction.
LAS 2403. Latin American Revolutions.
Examines revolutionary change in Latin America from a historical perspective, concentrating on four cases of attempted revolutionary change—Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Popular images and orthodox interpretations are challenged and new propositions about these processes are tested. External and internal dimensions of each of these social movements are analyzed and each revolution is discussed in the full context of the country’s historical development.
LAS 2720. Latinas/os in the United States.
Latinas/os are the largest minority group in the United States. Analyzes the Latina/o experience in the United States with special focus on migration, incorporation, and strategies for economic and social empowerment. Explores diversity within the U.S. Latina/o community by drawing on comparative lessons from Cuban-American, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Chicano/Mexican, and Central American patterns of economic participation, political mobilization, and cultural integration.
LAS 2735. Contemporary Haiti.
Examines contemporary Haitian culture and society in the context of a prolonged series of crises and international interventions. Focuses on the democratic transition of the late twentieth century and the recent humanitarian intervention in the wake of a series of natural disasters. Considers the historical roots of the Haitian crisis with a particular focus on Haiti’s marginalization within the world system. Explores the relationship between Haiti and the international community, especially the role of nongovernmental organizations, humanitarian organizations, and international institutions in the everyday lives of Haitians.
LAS 2771. Children and Youth in Global Perspective.
Explores research on children as a window into issues of individual agency and social, political, and economic inequality in the contemporary world. Children move between families, communities, and nations; claim belonging to divergent communities; create distinct identities; and navigate hierarchies. Highlights the circulation of children as structured by broad relationships of power. Forefronts youth as social actors. Considers culturally specific notions of childhood and methodological and ethical implications of research with children. Topics include adoption, migration, human trafficking, child labor, tourism, and social movements in the Americas, Asia, Oceania, and/or Africa.
LAS 3213. Aesthetics in Africa and Europe.
Aesthetics, the critical reflection on art, taste and culture, as much as beauty, the set of properties of an object that arouses pleasure, are central to all aspects of society-building and human life and relationships. The course examines the notions of aesthetics and beauty, from pre-Colonial to contemporary times, in cultures of the African and Western civilizations as expressed in various humanities and social sciences texts as well as, the arts, iconography and the media. Also examines the ways Africans and afro-descendants in the New World responded to the Western notions of aesthetics and beauty. Authors studied may include Anténor Firmin, Jean Price Mars, Senghor, Damas, Césaire, Cheick Anta Diop, Fanon, Glissant, Chamoiseau, Gyekye Kwame, Socrates, Plato, Jean-Baptiste du Bos,Diderot, Le père André, Baumgarten, Kant, Schopenhauer, Hegel, Hugo.
LAS 3218. A Journey around Macondo: Garcia Marquez and His Contemporaries.
Studies the main topics, techniques, and contributions of Colombian Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez as presented in One Hundred Years of Solitude. Explores the actual locations, social, cultural and literary trends that inspired the creation of Macondo, the so- called “village of the world” where the novel takes place, and the universal themes to which this imaginary town relates. Contemporary authors include Fuenmayor, Cepeda Samudio, and Rojas Herazo.
LAS 3249. Past and Present: Historical Novels in Latin America.
In order to explain the present we look at the past. But, how do we choose the regions of the past pertinent for our understanding of the present? Latin American writers seem obsessed with one particular period: the 16th and 17th centuries, on which hundreds of novels have been written. This course studies a variety of 20th- and 21st-century Latin American novels set in the Colonial period. It focuses on fictions that establish connections and implicit comparisons between 16th- and 17th-century political, cultural and social phenomena and current conjunctions in diverse Latin American nations. Topics include: theories of postcolonialism, historical and collective memory, discourses on history and literary representation, and historical continuities between the Colonial period and five contemporary Latin American countries (México, Colombia, Cuba, Argentina, and Peru.) Authors include Gabriel García Márquez, Carmen Boullosa, Reinaldo Arenas, Alejo Carpentier, Abel Posse, etc.