Hum Update: Week 4

We are officially one month into the new Hum 110 curriculum! On Monday, February 18, Professor of English and Humanities Laura Liebman lectured on race in colonial Mexico and the role casta paintings played in defining and classifying race in the eighteenth century. She explained the complex system of laws and policies that separated people into different racial categories. This system had severe implications on life at the time, with different groups having different rights. Casta paintings depicted the racial groups and “combinations” that existed. While the casta system has long been discarded, it still influences race relations in Mexico today. For homework, students viewed casta paintings and read Magali Carrera’s article “Locating Race in Colonial Mexico.”

For Wednesday, February 20, first-years read selections from The Mexico Reader: History, Culture, Politics on nineteenth century Mexico. Associate Professor of History and Humanities and Chair of Humanities 110 Margot Minardi lectured on the Mexican War of Independence and the Mexican-American War. The War of Independence started in 1810 partially because of Napoleon’s invasion of Spain, and ended in 1821 with the creation of the Declaration of Indepence and the signing of the Treaty of Córdoba. The Mexican-American War lasted from 1846 to 1848 and resulted in an American victory and Mexican cession of territory. Minardi also discussed the idea of a nation as described by Benedict Anderson as an “imagined political community — and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign.”

Professor of History and Humanities David Garrett gave the Friday, February 22, lecture on the Mexican Civil War and revolution in the early twentieth century. Porfirio Díaz’s stable presidency from 1876–1911 caused the country and economy to grow rapidly, leading to growing tension. During Díaz’s reelection attempt in 1910, claims that he had been violating the constitution aggravated existing tensions and provoked a revolution that lasted until 1917. Students read selections from revolution era texts.

I’m still enjoying the new curriculum a lot, but honestly, the excitement has worn off. Generally though, we’ve reached the point in the semester where the deep exhaustion and fatigue is setting in, so I don’t think it’s specific to Hum. This week, I really liked having paintings and videos for homework because it was less time consuming then readings. Next week we have even less readings, so I might actually get enough sleep for once.

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