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Taos Cultural Institute: July 20-23, 2017

Taos Cultural Institute

Current Course Offerings

2017 Courses

From the Bully Pulpit to Downright Bull: Great (and Terrible) Presidential Speeches

Presidents hold the bully pulpit – and with it, the ability to shape national policies with their words. Sometimes they inspire. “Ask not …”; “The only thing we have to fear ...”; “Four score and seven years ago …” – we all know how to complete these sentences, and the history that they in turn completed.

Sometimes, however, words fail. This summer in Taos, Jeffrey A. Engel, director of SMU’s Center for Presidential History and the author/editor of nine books on American foreign policy, and Alan Lowe, director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and former director of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, lead a course designed to enhance an understanding of the American presidency by exploring key moments of presidential speechmaking. Focusing on presidential rhetoric as well as on the pomp and circumstance of State of the Union addresses, inaugurations, funeral orations and battlefield commemorations, this course explores how America’s bully pulpit shows the best and worst a White House can offer.


America and Spain: Cultural Connections, 1860–1960

Gain an understanding of the American and European art scenes, including the artists and collectors of the Gilded Age and into the modern era. Examine the cultural connections between America and Spain, from 1860–1960, with Randall Griffin, University Distinguished Professor, Department of Art History, and Mark A. Roglán, the Linda P. and William A. Custard Director of the Meadows Museum and Centennial Chair in the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU, in a course that explores the birth of a cosmopolitan art market in America after the Civil War, at a time when collectors and artists were drawn to Paris for its art collections and art schools. The course also examines the way this was echoed in Spain at the time, especially among artists who went to Paris to be trained, and surveys American art collectors and museums of the 20th century.


Contact and Conflict: Mysticism in the Pueblo and Spanish Cultures of the Southwest

The Pueblo and Hispanic worlds were populated by both the mortal and the immortal, the human souls and the supernatural forces that controlled them. And yet both the powers and the nature of their influence were different in the two cultures.

Ronald Wetherington, professor of anthropology at SMU, leads a course designed to heighten awareness of the deeply spiritual identities of both cultures while fostering an appreciation for their deep contrasts. The course is ideal for Taos, where contact and conflict between Hispanic and Pueblo cultures and traditions played out in the 18th to 20th centuries. Using ancient tales and historic rituals, the course compares and contrasts these two visions of the southwestern world. Visits to the Martinez Hacienda Santos Room and to the San Geronimo de Taos mission church at Taos Pueblo assist in drawing comparisons and contrasts.


New Mexico Wine and Film: A Perfect Pairing with the Cogills

Taos has always inspired artists and other creative types, and cinema is no exception. Its dramatic landscape and rich stories have inspired dramas, science fiction, comedies, action/adventures and documentaries.

Embark on a cinematic exploration of some of the best films made in New Mexico with Gary Cogill, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, speaker, producer and consultant, and Hayley Hamilton Cogill, founder and president of Dallas Uncorked, sommelier, wine writer, corporate wine consultant and author of the wine blog “Red Wine with Breakfast.” The Cogills offer an entertaining and inspiring course that celebrates the artistry of New Mexico through wine and film and lead an interactive discussion, with a focus on the Western genre, pairing each film section with a different wine from the state. The course provides a look at the region through the film lens and the wine palate – two artistic expressions that capture the essence of the land, terroir and the people who live and work here.

Other highlights include field trips to some of the most noteworthy landmarks used in film in Taos, such as the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and Taos Pueblo.


The Battle for the Supreme Court: The Politics of Judicial Appointment and Decision Making

Examine the evolving dynamic interaction between politics and constitutional law, and its impact on the three branches of the national government and public policy, and develop an informed understanding of the forces that will shape governmental institutions and constitutional law in the next few years – and in the decades to come. The Supreme Court is currently a focus of popular and political contention unlike any since the New Deal crisis of 1936, with a critical difference: The partisan divide and consequential deadlock in the other governmental branches affords the Court little guidance, complicates the replacement of departing justices and further politicizes constitutional interpretation and law.

Joseph F. Kobylka, author and award-winning associate professor of political science at SMU, leads a course that unfolds in two parts. First, it looks at the politics of Supreme Court appointments in a period of high partisan conflict and closely divided judicial decisions. Second, it analyzes a handful of areas of specific political-judicial-constitutional contention, both in their own terms and in light of potential changes on the Court.


Faith in America: At the Intersection of Secularism, Religion and Politics

Examine American civil religion as a vital resource for exploring intellectually and practically the interface between religion and politics in the United States. William J. Abraham, the Albert Cook Outler Professor of Wesley Studies and Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor, Perkins School of Theology, leads a course that develops a dense account of the role of religion in American democracy with the initial aim of identifying the history, content and logic of American civil religion. This, in turn, is developed to cast fresh light on the debate about secularism in America. Finally, the course analyzes the possibilities and problems civil religion encounters in the assimilation of new immigrants, including Muslim immigrants.


Fly-Fishing in the Land of Enchantment

Experience uniquely crafted fly-fishing trips in and around Taos, including a day of fishing with the well-trained staff of The Solitary Angler on the Little Rio Grande, where it flows through the SMU-in-Taos campus. Taos offers the best of Northern New Mexico – magnificent scenery, beautiful weather and excellent year-round fly-fishing – for anglers seeking adventure far from the madding crowd. The Solitary Angler’s experienced guides, who are devoted to fishing and have trained anglers of all skill levels, know when and where to cast a line and how to match a client’s fishing skill level and aspirations with the right location to create an unforgettable experience.