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Mayan Mythology and Make-Believe in U.S. Art and Visual Culture
AMST 311
Fall 2013
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: ARHA 373, LAST 311

The ancient Maya predicted the end of the world would occur on December 21, 2012--if you believe what you see in the movies, that is. Recent Hollywood films like Apocalypto wove fantastic stories around this date, which marked the conclusion of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar. But what did ancient Maya civilization believe about 2012? This course will consider the issue of cultural appropriation by contrasting the original history and meaning of Mayan artifacts against their reinterpretation in U.S. museum displays, paintings, sculpture, comic books, and movies. Over the course of the semester, we will address questions such as: What can practices of cultural appropriation tell us about the societies involved? Is the adoption of visual elements from one culture by another ethically objectionable? Why or why not? What does it mean for an object to become divorced from its original context? Do new interpretations overwrite the old, or can multiple meanings and histories coexist for a single object? And finally, how does the example of Mayan mythology in the American imagination provide insight into other instances of cultural appropriation, both historically and in the present day?
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS AMST
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (AMST)
Past Enrollment Probability: Not Available

Last Updated on SEP-27-2023
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