Program Dates: May 23 to June 25, 2016
Program Director: David E. Johnson, Professor of Comparative Literature
6 credit hours. Open to undergraduate and graduate students
For more than 675 years, Tenochtitlán-Mexico City has been the historical and cultural epicenter of the Latin Americas. Founded in 1325 on an island near the western edge of Lake Texcoco, Tenochtitlan became the seat of the Aztec Empire. The conqueror-turned-chronicler Bernal Díaz del Castillo, who accompanied Hernán Cortés in 1519, claimed that Tenochtitlan was as impressive as Venice, complete with canals, shining temples, and towers. In 1521, Cortés destroyed the city, but traces of it still remain. Out of its ruins arose Mexico City, one of the world’s largest and most vibrant cities, home to 20 million people.
We will spend five weeks exploring Mexico City’s vast cultural offerings. We’ll visit the remarkable Templo Mayor complex, which lies near the heart of Mexico City, just off the Zócalo, the massive Cathedral and the National Palace with its Diego Rivera murals. We’ll visit what remains of Tenochtitlan’s sister-city, Tlatelolco, and the Plaza of the Three Cultures, with its 16th-century church, Santiago de Tlatelolco as well as the museum commemorating the massacre of some 350 students and citizens on October 2, 1968. We will visit the fascinating neighborhoods of Coyoacán and San Ángel, where we will find the Frida Kahlo House, the Diego Rivera studio, and the Bazar del Sábado (the Saturday art fair). We will explore Mexico City’s historical center, with its numerous museums, the Casa de Azulejos, the Palace of Fine Arts, and the Colegio de San Ildefonso. We will visit the Basilica of Guadalupe and the surrounding gardens of Tepeyac, the National Museum of Anthropology, and the Castle of Chapultepec. All of this in order to have a sense of the cultural ghosts that haunt Mexico City.
In addition, we will make day trips to nearby archeological and historical areas, including the pyramids of Teotihuacán and the colonial city of Puebla and its neighboring pyramid, Cholula.
Students will stay in apartments in picturesque and culturally interesting Coyoacán, near the UNAM campus.
“Mexico’s Futures” is a five-week intensive six-credit hour program open to undergraduate and graduate students. The program is divided between two intensive seminars. The first seminar, “Narrating Violence,” operates on two levels. First, it explores the cultural, political, and social logics of violence in Mexico; second, it investigates the relation between language and violence, and more specifically between writing and violence. We will read narrative journalism (Sergio González Rodríguez, Huesos en el desierto), crónica (Elena Poniatowska, La noche de Tlatelolco and La herida de Paulina), essay (Octavio Paz, Posdata), and novel (Elmer Mendoza, El asesino solitario, Juan García Ponce, La invitación). The second seminar, “Mexico’s Futures,” combines readings in Mexican culture (Octavio Paz’s El laberinto de la soledad) and Roger Bartra’s La jaula de la melancolía) with recent short, speculative accounts of Mexico’s future(s): Roger Bartra, La sombra del future; Guillermo Hurtado, México sin sentido; Héctor Aguilar Camín and Jorge G. Castañeda’s Un futuro para México. The question is what is at stake in such speculation? How do we describe the economy—the loss and the gain—of the attempt to capitalize on Mexico’s future?
For more information about the course and requirements, contact the Program Director.
This is not a language program. Students should have language skills sufficient for completing course requirements and for negotiating a city, in which, despite its proximity to the United States, the majority of its citizens speak very little English.
Mexico City is remarkably safe, having a violent-crime rate lower than that of Washington, DC. Certain relatively simple precautions can help ensure a safe, fun, and intellectually stimulating experience.
Airfare: $600 (estimate)
Resident Undergraduates: $2250
Resident Graduates: $2718
Non-resident undergraduates: $5300
Non-Resident grads: $5550
All accepted students will be eligible for a Designated Partner Program Scholarship to reduce the cost of the Program Fee.
Miscellaneous: $750 (estimate)
Program open to both undergraduate and graduate students