Viceregal America: Visual and Material Cultures

This course explores the visual and material cultures of Spain and Portugal’s territorial possessions in the New World from the arrival of Europeans in the late fifteenth century through political independence in the early nineteenth century. Emphasis will be given to the legacies of cultural contact and the adaptation of European traditions to new circumstances in the Spanish viceroyalties of New Spain, Peru, New Granada, and Río de la Plata, and in the Portuguese captaincies, viceroyalty, and, later, kingdom of Brazil. Topics include the visual and material legacies of conquest, collaboration, and resistance; the repurposing and transformation of indigenous materials and manufacturing techniques; and the movement of materials, trade goods, and artisans throughout the Spanish and Portuguese global empires. We will investigate the role of the Americas as a conceptual and mercantile link between Asia and Europe; the contribution of Africans and their descendants in colonial society and culture; the role of the arts in religious and domestic rituals; the continuing interest in European models and the diversification of regional styles throughout Ibero-America; and the usefulness of “hybridity” as an interpretive term for New World objects and cultures. The course will make use of New York museums and collections, and participants will take an active role in defining and presenting areas of special research interest. 3 credits. Satisfies the pre-1800 requirement.