ARHS 3383: The Ancient Maya: Art and History
This course examines some of the most famous and beautiful visual expression of the ancient New World: Maya art, architecture, and calligraphic writing. Lectures, readings, and discussions will introduce students to the ancient Maya civilization of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. Special emphasis will be given to the complex and evolving roles of art in ancient Maya society between AD 250 and 900, the Classic Period. We will also explore the linguistic mechanics and visual artistry of the Maya writing system: students will come away with a rudimentary understanding of Maya hieroglyphs. This course is intended to bring students into contact with Maya art and hieroglyphs in an small-class learning environment. Two sessions will be held in the galleries of the Dallas Museum of Art; two sessions will be devoted to an in-class workshop in Maya hieroglyphic writing.
Adam Herring received his Ph.D. in the History of Art from Yale University in 1999. At SMU he teaches courses on the art and culture of the Maya, Inca, and other peoples of ancient Mesoamerica and the Andes. His publications include the book Art and Writing in the Maya Cities, AD 600-800: A Poetics of Line, as well as articles on Maya vase painting, bone carving, and monumental architecture. His current research addresses art and visual experience among the Inca of Andean South America.
Learning Outcomes and Benefits
After taking this course students will be able to:
- Knowledgably discuss the Maya and other indigenous peoples of ancient Mexico and Central America
- Know the geography, topography, and ecology of the ancient Maya world, with a who’s-who understanding of the great urban centers of the ancient Maya
- Read Maya glyphs
- Knowledgably discuss the principal formats and genres of ancient Maya art and visual expression
- See with new eyes: students will come away with sharpened visual sensitivities and visual literacy in the art of ancient Mexico
- Demonstrate improved skills associated with art-historical thinking and writing, particularly research, analysis, and argumentation
- Reflect on the deep cultural legacy of indigenous history and civilization in Mexico and the New World