Special Topics in History of Art: Art, Nation, and Identity in the Americas
How do buildings help citizens "see" a nation? How do art and architecture come to embody ideas of a people, a culture, or a country? When and why have people sought to define national styles?
This seminar compares debates over the establishment of national art and identity in North, Central, South America and the Caribbean. We will read theories of cultural nation-building to examine the role of art in phenomena from "the Invention of Tradition" to "Imagined Communities," from the colonial periods through to the supposedly universal language of modernism north and south. Among the topics to be considered are the formation of national symbols, the ways that landscape stands in for culture or identity, the display of nations at international exhibitions, the creation of modernisms based in both indigenous and popular culture, the challenges of an international style in architecture, the creation of "Americanisme" and "Mexicanidad" for export, the role of modern art in cultural diplomacy during and after the Cold War. Musical nationalism – for instance Tropicália – could be another area to explore.
Readings include Eric Hobsbawm, Tony Bennett, Benedict Anderson, Arjun Appadurai, Néstor García Canclini, and others. Students from Romance Languages, History, Architecture, American Culture, LACS and other units are encouraged to join the conversation. Please contact us to learn more about the class.