The American Southwest

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Brought to you by Odyssey

February 14 - March 14, 2022 (5 sessions)
Monday, 6:30 - 8:30 PM ET

During this course, we explore the art, history, and cultures of the American Southwest, from ancient Native American homeland to contemporary cultural mosaic. We begin our exploration some 2,000 years ago, when the Southwest was the homeland of the Ancestral Pueblo people (the “Anasazi”), visiting such major archaeological sites as Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Canyon de Chelly, with their spectacular residential compounds, cliff dwellings, and intriguing petroglyphs. We then turn our attention to the historical communities of the Hopi, Zuni, and other Pueblo peoples of New Mexico and Arizona, along with their Navajo and Apache neighbors. We then consider the impact of the coming of the Spanish in the 16th and 17th centuries, and then the arrival of Anglo traders and settlers, the coming of the railroads and the influx of Easterners, and the genesis of the Southwest as a multicultural mecca, with a vibrant avant-garde arts scene extending from the 1920’s to the present day. Each week I will send ahead some readings that you may wish to peruse for that class

Johns Hopkins Tuition Remission Policies

Current and retired full-time Johns Hopkins faculty and staff, as well as their spouses or domestic partners, are eligible for tuition remission. Eligibility details can be found here.

After registration, tuition remission eligibility will be confirmed by the Odyssey registrar. If eligibility cannot be confirmed, you will be required to pay full tuition for the course. Under the terms of the University’s remission program, Hopkins employees must withdraw in writing at least five working days before the first class to receive a 100% refund. No partial refunds are given to JHU employees and affiliates. All other participants should review the JHAA Event Cancellation and Refund Policy

The Ancient Southwest February 14, 2022 - February 21, 2022   06:30:00 PM - 08:30:00 PM

These first two slide and film presentations introduce the complex cultural history of the Native American Southwest, beginning with the cultural manifestations of the ancient ancestral Pueblo people, the "Anasazi"-- at such sites as Mesa Verde, Aztec Ruins and Chaco Canyon -- and continuing with their historical descendants, the Pueblo peoples of the Rio Grande, the Hopi, the Zuni, and the people of Acoma and Laguna Pueblos.

We will begin with a brief overview of the peopling of the Americas, and then focus on the area of the Southwestern United States. We survey the early Native cultural traditions distributed through the Southwest, such as the petroglyphs of the Fremont culture in Utah, and the settlements of the Hohokam and Mogollon peoples of southern Arizona and southern New Mexico, including the fabulous painted pottery of the Mimbres culture. We then focus on the so-called Anasazi or ancestral Pueblo culture, focusing on Pueblo Bonito at Chaco Canyon, studying the layout of dwellings and ceremonial kivas, pottery and petroglyphs, and we’ll compare this site to other well-known Ancient Pueblo sites at Mesa Verde, Aztec Ruins and Canyon de Chelly. 

The question has often been posed about the “mystery” of the disappearance of the “Anasazi” culture in the 13th century. While some archaeological links remain to be uncovered, it is clear that the Ancient Pueblo people did not “disappear” but relocated, eventually to the existing sites of the contemporary Pueblo peoples of the Rio Grande, and the Hopi and Zuni, and the western Pueblo peoples of Acoma and Laguna. Especially important for understanding the transition are the painted kivas of Pottery Mound, Kuaua and other sites intermediate between the ancient “Anasazi” and the contemporary Puebloan people; these murals not only provide invaluable information about ceremonial traditions, but also hint at connections with the Mesoamerican cultures of Mexico.

Spanish Colonial and Anglo/ U.S. Reconfigurations of the  February 28, 2022 - February 28, 2022   06:30:00 PM - 08:30:00 PM

We continue with a look at the period of Spanish incursion, when the region became first part of colonial New Spain and then part of independent Mexico. We look at the narratives of the earliest Spanish arrival, and at the long tradition of Spanish colonial art and architecture, culture and religion in the region.

We then move on to the incorporation of the region into the U.S. after the Mexican-American war, and with its impact on the Native American and Hispanic populations. Canyon de Chelly provides a transition to other Native groups that made their home in the Southwest, notably the Navajo. Canyon de Chelly provides examples of both ancient “Anasazi” and more recent Navajo petroglyphs and pictographs, often side by side, so that the canyon walls can be read in terms of both ancient symbolism and modern history.

We consider the history and culture of the Navajo people, and the impact and consequences of the coming of the Spanish and the Anglos into "Indian Country." The Dineh: "the People" -- the Navajo. Athabaskan ancestry; Navajo ethnography, art and craft traditions, and world-view: hozho [balance]. Navajo myth/history: the Fifth World and stories of the Hero Twins.

The 19th century saw the arrival of the railroads and of an Anglo population of Easterners, and the genesis of the Southwest as a fine art center, sometimes called the "Santa Fe-ization" of the Southwest.

The Contemporary Multicultural SouthwestNative American, Anglo, and Hispanic/Chicano/a, Latinx March 7, 2022 - March 14, 2022   06:30:00 PM - 08:30:00 PM

The ancient sites and the Spanish colonization and the subsequent Americanization of the Southwest provide a foundation for understanding the situation of the contemporary indigenous cultures of the Southwest, the Hopi, the Zuni and the peoples of the Acoma, Laguna and Rio Grande Pueblos. The ceremonialism of these Puebloan peoples is incredibly rich and while intensely interesting to outsiders, the traditions continue to be carefully guarded.

Pueblo and Navajo cultures in the historic period. A look at Hopi culture today. Hopi myth/history of the Four Worlds, as recounted by Frank Waters; legends of migration, stories of the hero-twins and Hopi clan histories. The Hopi ceremonial cycle: the kachina cycle (winter solstice through summer solstice), and non-kachina dances and ceremonies. Hopi sensibilities regarding outsider inquiry into ceremonial tradition. Hopi history, from the first encounter with the Spanish to the present day.

The Anglo "Santa-Fe-ization" of the Southwest. Mable dodge Luhan and the Taos art colony. A look at Spanish Mission churches, and at the Taos School of painters.

More recently, the Southwest has witnessed the “re-arrival” of a Mexican-American, or Chicano, population along with the retrieval and revival of Mexican cultural traditions such as the Day of the Dead and the cult of Guadalupe, and the ideology of "Aztlan."

Today the region, for all its cultural conflicts, is the site of an ongoing evolution of a modern multicultural Southwest. Reference will be made to literary works by such authors as Leslie Marmon Silko, Gloria Anzaldúa, Ed Abbey and Tony Hillerman, and a look at the modern arts of the Pueblo and Navajo peoples, the paintings of the Taos School of artists, the work of Georgia O’Keeffe, and the revival of Southwest folk art, and the emergence of contemporary Chicanx art.

ABOUT George L. Scheper
Senior Lecturer, Advanced Academic Programs, Johns Hopkins University

George L. Scheper (Ph.D., Princeton) is Senior Lecturer in Liberal Arts and former Director of the Odyssey Program (lifelong learning and educational enrichment for adults) at Johns Hopkins University. His interdisciplinary humanities teaching focuses on Pre-Columbian and Native American Studies, and on urban cultural histories, especially of turn-of-the-century culture circa 1900. He has directed fifteen National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institutes for college and university faculty on Pre-Columbian and Native American topics, convened on-site in the U.S., Mexico, and Central and South America. His publications include many articles and reviews on cultural studies; a survey of British Literature text for a telecourse by Maryland Public Broadcasting; a bio-critical study of Oxford don and detective fiction writer J. I. M. Stewart, aka Michael Innes.

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 Event Date
Monday, February 14, 2022
Start Time: 6:30pm EDT

1.800.JHU-JHU1 (548-5481)

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