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Course Details

Fall 2011-2012
ART 394 / LAS 394 (LA)   No Pass/D/Fail

Pre-Columbian Maya Art: Elite and Popular Discourses

Christina T. Halperin


This course examines Pre-Columbian Maya art and archaeology from the perspective of intersecting aesthetic, ritual, and social traditions: official state art and popular representations and practices. Drawing on critical social theory as a basis for our analyses, we will examine the relationship between royal mural paintings and cave art, patronized art and graffiti, large-scale stone monuments and small-scale figurines, "readable" hieroglyphic texts and pseudo writing, and civic-ceremonial architecture and vernacular household architecture.

Sample reading list:
Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste
Mary Miller and Simon Martin, Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya
Dorie Reents-Budet, editor, Painting the Maya Universe: Royal Ceramics of the Classic...
Andrea J. Stone, Images from the Underworld: Naj Tunich and the Tradition...
Nancy Gonlin and Jon C. Lohse (editors), Commoner Ritual and Ideology in Ancient Mesoamerica
See instructor for complete list

Reading/Writing assignments:
Readings will comprise book chapters and articles (between 100-150 pages/week). Students will complete several short reaction papers related to the reading assignments as well as a final research paper (10-14 pages).

Paper in lieu of Final - 25%
Papers - 25%
Oral Presentation(s) - 15%
Class/Precept Participation - 35%

Other Requirements:
Not Open to Freshmen.

Prerequisites and Restrictions:
The course will include a study trip to Guatemala to visit world-renown archaeological sites, national museums, and archaeological storage collections not available to the general public..

Other information:
For department concentrators, satisfies African/Pre-Columbian distribution requirement. To fill out the application for this course go to the Dept. of Art and Archaeology website:

Schedule/Classroom assignment:

Class numberSectionTimeDaysRoomEnrollmentStatus
23647 S01 01:30:00 pm - 04:20:00 pm M   McCormick Hall   362   Enrolled:12 Limit:12 Closed