Syllabus and Calendar

The syllabus and calendar for the Summer Institute in 2015 are still under development. What appear below are details that are pending approval of class locations, excursion destinations, and agreements from speakers.  But the final version will be largely like this.


Institute Syllabus

Please note: Reading assignments may be tweaked between now and one month prior to the start of the institute, we will be preparing PDFs of readings to attach to this syllabus, and we will provide at least one printout of the readings that NEH Summer Scholars may borrow to photocopy at their own expense in Oaxaca. As the printed reading packet will be quite “weighty,” you may wish to read what you can prior to the institute and leave it home, just bring to Oaxaca what remains to be read, or print that part after you arrive in Oaxaca, to avoid adding so much weight to your luggage.

Core Faculty (from the University of Oregon): Dr. Stephanie Wood (Director); Master Teacher Ron Lancaster; Dr. Ronald Spores; Dr. Robert Haskett; Dr. Lynn Stephen; and, Dr. Gabriela Martínez.  Local Faculty: Dr. Michael Swanton; Maestra María del Refugio Gutiérrez Rodríguez; Dr. Bas van Doesburg;  Mtro. Leobardo Pacheco; don Paco González; doña Petra Vicente; Mtra. Marietta Bernstorff; Dr. Concepción Núñez Miranda; and more.


This is a four-week summer institute for K-12 schoolteachers of history, art, languages and literatures to be selected from applicants around the United States and those teaching at American schools abroad. The institute, which will be held in Oaxaca, Mexico, is designed to facilitate the expanded integration of Mesoamerican cultural heritage materials – new discoveries and the latest research interpreting the same — into curricular units or lesson plans that will appeal to a variety of learners and bring greater multicultural depth and understanding into U.S. classrooms. The aim is to explore how the histories of Mesoamerican peoples might provide useful comparisons for exploring humanities questions in the broader American and global context – such as how peoples move from non-sedentary to more settled societies, what leads to city formation, the emergence of writing and literacy, the development of complex societies, cultural florescence (and decline), how empires are built and what the human consequences are, and what are the nature and outcomes of cultural encounters and exchange. It is also our aim to explore our methods and sources, considering perspective and voice and how we can interpret cultural heritage materials such as museum objects, architectural remains, pictorial and textual archival manuscripts, folk art, and motion pictures. In the process of exploring this content, we will consider how technology can aid our humanities research and teaching, with new applications that help us tease out the meanings from heritage materials.

Expectations of NEH Summer Scholars

All NEH Summer Scholars will have as their goal a deepening of their knowledge of Mesoamerican indigenous cultures and their histories over a broad sweep of time, from the Formative period to the present, as a means to achieving a greater understanding of both a shared humanity and the variety of human experience. They will embrace our thematic approach and our humanities inquiries to recent research findings and archaeological discoveries. They will take advantage of having access to experts in the field of Mesoamerica to stimulate their own intellectual vitality and move forward their own professional development. They will tap into the expertise and models provided by the broader community of inquiry and the scholarship presented by the institute, working to build new or improved curricular materials.

All participants will be expected to create a new curricular unit (or greatly enhance one or more existing lessons in their courses) by incorporating Mesoamerican content and infusing the classroom experience with more of a multicultural approach, showing a curiosity about and an appreciation for the indigenous peoples and cultures inhabiting Mexico and parts of Central America for millennia. In order to maximize the potential for these curricular revisions, NEH Summer Scholars will be expected to attend all presentations and workshops, do the reading assignments (preparing some of them prior to arrival in Mexico), participate in discussions about the readings and lectures, complete the projects outlined below, contribute to the final evaluation of the institute, and respond to later communications as projects are made available for sharing within the larger group of NEH Summer Scholars and beyond.

One of the principal institute requirements will involve NEH Summer Scholars working individually or in teams to create a new curricular unit for use in their own classrooms and, ideally, to make available to share with other teachers. Informal gatherings in the mornings at coffee hour, over lunch, or during bus trips will be times when participants will be encouraged to discuss ideas for integrating Mesoamerican cultural heritage materials into their courses with the core faculty, guest speakers, and directors. NEH Summer Scholars may also take advantage of the optional, informal Friday workshops of the institute.

Required Projects

Proposal (2 pages):  Individuals or teams of two to three people each will prepare a 2-page proposal for a new or revised lesson plan, curricular resource, or research project that incorporates Mesoamerican content learned during the institute, due at the start of the second week of the institute. This proposal will include a topic statement, explore pedagogical concerns and learning objectives they hope to address, and tell how the material will be used in the classroom (or, alternatively, for an assignment students will prepare outside of class). Included in the proposal will be a list of sample images and readings of the kind the team hopes to incorporate.

New or Revised Curricular Unit (2-4 pages of text plus an electronic slide presentation or other multimedia piece, such as a video): All individuals or teams will prepare a new or revised, 2 to 4-page lesson plan for use in their classrooms, some other curricular resource, or a research project. The presentation (or a substantial glimpse of it) will be required during the fourth week of the institute. It may involve something entirely new or a major revision of an existing unit that one of the participants has taught previously. It will involve the incorporation of materials made accessible through the institute, knowledge gained, and skills learned in the workshops. It will take advantage of the assistance in the interpretation of materials that core faculty and guest speakers will provide.  An improved version of the unit will be expected to be delivered to Stephanie by Monday, September 21.  If, after you teach your unit, you wish to submit a final, tweaked version, we will accept such things and replace what we have put on line with the final version.

On the first three Fridays, NEH Summer Scholars will gather for a three-hour session in our classroom where we can discuss approaches, form collaborative teams, and even share technological expertise (editing images, preparing electronic slide presentations, making simple videos, and so on). The director, master teacher, and select faculty may be on hand to answer questions related to your curriculum development.  It is our hope that all NEH Summer Scholars will bring their own laptops and digital cameras (still and/or video) with them to Oaxaca.

NEH Summer Scholars will be asked to share any multimedia curricular materials they develop during the institute with other members, which we will place on the Wired Humanities Projects server, if they are willing.  Ideally, all NEH Summer Scholars contributing curricular units to a shared resource base will have access to the materials of the other contributors. These will be password protected or not, as the participants so specify, meaning that they will be accessible only to the institute Summer Scholars or available for sharing more widely with the general public. Selected units may be made available nationally through EDSITEment!

Topic Suggestions: Additional topics will surely occur to NEH Summer Scholars over the course of the institute, but to start people thinking about some of the many possibilities, here are some suggestions. Most of these topics can be examined for change over time, including the changes that came with Spanish colonization.  Our time frame is 1800 B.C.E. to the present.  We would love for you to form collaborative groups in choosing one of these themes:

Some of the Topics Related to Week 1:

  • Indigenous Languages: Central for Cultural Preservation
  • Artifacts and Archaeology: Windows onto the Pre-Columbian and Colonial Past
  • Ceramics as Cultural Transmission: Then and Now (also links to Week 3)
  • The Mesoamerican Ballgame: The Intersection of Sport and Religion (links to weekend activities)
  • Virtual_Oaxaca: An Experiment in Representing Oaxaca as a Virtual Space

Some of the Topics Related to Week 2:

  • Pre-Columbian Writing/Painting Systems: Glyphic Texts and Iconography
  • Mesoamerican Alphabetic and Pictorial Manuscripts: Codices as Art, History, and Cultural Memory
  • Creation, Origins, and Migration Narratives (e.g. sculptural, pictorial, written) and Identity (can link to Week 3)
  • Spanish Conquest and Colonization: Myths and Realities
  • Ethnobiology: Cultural Preservation in Foods, Medicinals, and Technology (also links to Week 3) — can look at maize, chocolate, cochineal, etc., or the “Columbian Exchange” (links to weekend activities)

Some of the Topics Related to Week 3:

  • Textiles as Cultural Expression for Women: Text, Subtext, Context, and Intertextuality
  • Ceramics as Cultural Transmission: Then and Now (also links to Week 1)
  • Outside the Museums and Galleries: Street Art as the Search for a Voice
  • Sister Schools: Connecting Indigenous Oaxacan Youth with U.S. School Groups
  • Guelaguetza Dance Festival as Cultural Preservation (and Stereotyping?)

Some of the Topics Related to Week 4:

  • Indigenous People, Criminality, and (In)Justice
  • Rebellion in Oaxaca: The Teachers’ Movement in 2006
  • Filmmaking and Street Art (also links to Week 3)
  • Responses to Genocide in Guatemala


We are working with the Department of History, University of Oregon, to see if we could provide you the opportunity to earn graduate-level (600+) academic credit for this summer institute.  If approved, you would have the option of seeking to earn 1 to 4 quarter credits, Pass/Not Pass, at a cost of about $75/credit (exact price to be determined), supervised by Professor Robert Haskett, a specialist in Mesoamerican ethnohistory.  If you wish to earn credits, we would require that you attend the Friday workshops (otherwise only optional for everyone else).  Another option, if approved, would be to seek a PDU certificate for $25.  For those wishing to obtain credits or units, we would expect the following engagement:

Engagement Inventory

  • “Class” Time = 28 hours per week
    • 55% = listening to presentations and taking notes, whether in the seminar classroom, or on buses, or on foot during excursions
    • 35% = active participation in discussions of readings, discussions about the application of content to teaching, small-group activities, and curricular project demonstrations
    • 10% = watching videos
  • Reading Preparation = 8 hours per week (minimum); some of this can be done in advance of arriving in Oaxaca
  • Project Development = 5 hours per week (minimum); some of this can be done prior to arrival in Oaxaca, in the way of reading, studying the curricular design help pages, etc.


Yes, this is tentative, but we have done our best to plan and prepare our time together to the best of our ability.  Please bear in mind that this is a first-rate destination but not a first-world destination, so we must be flexible about periodic adjustments to our calendar when unforeseen logistical issues arise.  We truly appreciate your adaptability!

Week 1, ARCHAEOLOGY, “Art and Architecture as Windows onto Cultural Realities in Prehistory”

Week 1:  Humanities Questions: After an introduction to the institute, to Mesoamerica, and to the cultural diversity that Oaxaca state encompasses, as well as a linguistic lesson, we will turn to archaeology as a way to approach the ancient past. We will explore such questions as how do art and architectural remains clue us in to the organization of these various societies, domestic and public organization, the functioning of economies, and the nature of political structures?  What inferences are we gathering from physical remains to speculate about religious beliefs and practices? How reliable are our methods?  What lessons can we learn about ancient Mesoamerican peoples’ relationships with the natural environment (and still be careful not to see them as “noble savages”)? We will also consider recent discussions about the first appearance of writing systems; the nature of the public historical record; the possibility of ceremonial centers versus urban centers; the meaning of the “ball game” (and its variations across Mesoamerica); the significance of burying the dead in tombs under household floors; and the commemoration of the activities of male rulers and their “wives” versus the possibility of co-rulers. Our core-faculty member for the week is currently working at excavations and a laboratory in a town in the state of Oaxaca that captures precisely the period of European and Amerindian contact.

Technological Goals and Pedagogy:  NEH Summer Scholars will be encouraged to bring digital still and/or video cameras and laptops for creating and manipulating their own digital images of art and architecture with our guidance. In weeks 1 and 2, we will also introduce and demonstrate our Virtual Mesoamerican Archive, Mapas Project, Age of Exploration Digital Maps of the Americas, Early Nahuatl Library, indigenous language dictionaries, and other online finding aids and tools for developing digital curricular units that incorporate images of archaeological sites and artifacts and guide students to explore the stories such images might convey. Other important resources include MesoloreFAMSI (Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc.), and Vistas: Visual Culture in Spanish America.

Week 1, ARCHAEOLOGY, Detailed Schedule:

Sunday, July 5, 2015

19:00-21:00. Welcome Reception in the Casa Independencia, across the street from the  Biblioteca de Investigación Juan de Córdova (BIJC) formerly known as the Centro Académico y Cultural San Pablo, on Calle Independencia 903, Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico. Refreshments. (Let’s hope it doesn’t rain this evening!)  The building is between 5 de Mayo and Reforma, the entrance about mid-block, east of the Theater Macedonio Alcalá.  Google “Oaxaca City Map” and zoom in to the center of town.  Independencia street runs east and west and is highlighted in yellow.  We will have some Oaxacan snacks and some beverages, at no charge.

Entrance door on left, small door within large door, will lead to the patio party site.

Entrance door on left, small door within large door, will lead to the patio party site.

Monday, July 6

Click here for this week’s READING ASSIGNMENTS

Week 1 Study Guide by Stephanie Wood

10:00-11:00 Home Room.  Location: Biblioteca de Investigación Juan de Córdova (BIJC), Independencia 904, in the seminar room “Aula Don Luis de León Romano,” up one level from the street entrance. People will be on hand to show you to the room the first time.  All NEH Summer Scholars will do self-introductions (where from? what do you teach? what level? do you have relevant travel experience you’d like to share?). We may use some of this time to discuss safety and comportment (cultural sensitivity) issues. Master Teacher Ron Lancaster will preside, with support from Director, Stephanie Wood.

Master Teacher Ron Lancaster (green shirt) in front of the 2014 group, Aula Léon Romano, BIJC.

Master Teacher Ron Lancaster (green shirt) in front of the 2014 group, Aula León Romano, BIJC.

11:00-12:00 BIJC. Introduction to the Institute. Prof. Stephanie Wood, University of Oregon, “Rationale and Organization of this National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on Mesoamerica”

12:00-12:30.  Coffee Break

12:30-13:30.  BIJC. Prof. Stephanie Wood, “Introduction to Web Resources for Teaching About Mesoamerica” (will include information about online resources, including curricular materials created by teachers in prior institutes)

13:30-14:30.  BIJC. Prof. Stephanie Wood, “Classroom Resources for Introducing Indigenous Languages and Writing Systems to Your Students” (a variety of handouts and exercises we will practice together)

14:30-17:00.  Comida and Siesta Break (on your own)

17:00-18:30.  BIJC.  Evening Talk (Introduction, continued).  Michael Swanton, Coordinator of Linguistic Projects, BIJC, “Languages and Cultures in Mesoamerica: Spotlight on Oaxaca.” (Possible alternative speaker, Yásnaya Elena Aguilar Gil, native-speaker of Mixe.)

Palace with a magnificent view of the valley below. Atzompa. (S. Wood, 2013)

Palace with a magnificent view of the valley below. Atzompa. (S. Wood, 2013)

Tuesday, July 7

Click here for this week’s READING ASSIGNMENTS

Excursion Guide to Monte Albán and Atzompa, by Stephanie Wood

Video playlist of Monte Albán from a previous excursion

9:00-15:00. No home room; rather we will have an excursion. Bus meeting site to be announced.  Bring water bottles and snacks to have on the bus.  We will be taking guided excursions of the archaeological site of Monte Albán (site map) and its satellite city, Atzompa, with Professor Ronald Spores. We will go first to Monte Albán and listen to introduction to the site en route. You can visit this site for a birdseye view of Monte Albán.  And this website has an interesting, colorful schemata of the site. When we are there, please listen closely to what is said about the ball court and look for  artifacts in the museum that relate to the ball game.

Monte Albán, “Danzante” figure. (S. Wood)

At approximately noon (drink some water and have a snack on the bus), we will drive next door to Atzompa listening to an introduction to the site en route from Professor Spores.  Atzompa was a Post-Classic site (with its peak at ca. 650 to 850 C.E.) where Zapotec rulers and priests had their residences.  This site is notable for its three ball courts, especially the largest one (larger than the court at Monte Albán), which has niches in each of the corners, possibly serving as altar points. Here are some wonderful photographs of a vase found at Atzompa, possibly depicting a ruler named 8 Earthquake. Here are some photos of the architecture.

There will be admission fees at both sites, which NEH will not underwrite.  They desire that you to pay for admissions from your stipends.  Also, we hope you won’t mind budgeting about $10 pesos per person (the equivalent of less than one dollar) as a tip we will collect for the bus driver on each of the excursions by bus. Don’t forget your cameras.  If you shoot video, there is an extra charge.  And, as always, be prepared with comfortable shoes and with appropriate clothing or an umbrella just in case it rains (or even to block the sometimes intense sun).

We hope to get you back to Oaxaca city in time for you to catch your main meal there.  Then you will have free (study) time on your own the rest of the day.

Two rubber balls and two "guantes" (gloves or mitts) from Amilpas. (Photo, S. Wood, Nov. 2013)

Two rubber balls and two “guantes” (gloves or mitts) from Amilpas. (Photo, S. Wood, Nov. 2013)

Wednesday, July 8

Click here for this week’s READING ASSIGNMENTS

10:00-11:00 Home Room. Location:  BIJC, same seminar room.  This morning we will socialize with other NEH Summer Scholars and faculty, discuss pedagogical applications of the prior days’ content and discuss reading assignments, with Ron Lancaster and Stephanie Wood.

11:00–11:30.   Coffee Break.

11:30–12:30.  BIJC.  We will have a presentation this morning by Leobardo Daniel Pacheco Arias, a specialist on the Mixtec/Zapotec Ballgames, who will explain the history of the games (still played today) and show us some of the accouterments that his grandfather and his father create in their studio, such as “guantes” (something like gloves) for hitting the ball. Here is a site in Spanish about the game, with a photo of a ball and a glove.  And another, with more history and details (in Spanish).  This 6-minute YouTube presentation, in Spanish, explains the game, too, and has some footage of the game being played.

Excursion Guide to Rancho Zapata and Mitla, by Stephanie Wood

12:30–14:30.   Bus meeting site at the corner of Reforma and Constitución, at the entrance to the Jardín Etnobotánico/Hemeroteca. Excursion to Rancho Zapata, a mezcal plantation and brewery, where we will have the option of ordering lunch ala carte (each choosing and paying for whatever you might want to consume — or, alternatively, bringing a sack lunch you can eat on the bus, and just order a beverage).  You can taste the mezcal here for free and you can take the optional tour where the production of mezcal is explained.  From Rancho Zapata, we will continue on the road to nearby Mitla.

15:00–19:00.  Excursion to Mitla (site map) with Ron Spores, who will introduce this archaeological site on the bus.  We will see remnants of pre-Columbian codex-like murals on some of the lintels of the palaces.  The buildings are also decorated with geometric patterns that are very different from Monte Albán.  They echo some of the patterns in Zapotec textiles.  We will be allowed into some of the rooms. There are subterranean spaces you can visit at the archaeological site, too. Here we will also find a Catholic church built in the middle of the ancient settlement.  Please be prepared for the admission fee and a tip for the bus driver.  If we have time, we will stop briefly on the way back to Oaxaca City to see El Tule, an enormous ahuehuete tree.  We hope to return to Oaxaca by 7 PM, but the return time can vary according to traffic conditions.

Mitla and Agave

Thursday, July 9

Click here for this week’s READING ASSIGNMENTS

Excursion Guide to Yanhuitlán, by Stephanie Wood (we used to visit Coixtlahuaca, too, which appears on this study guide, but it might be too much for our excursion this year, given that the visit to Yanhuitlan may be more involved, given that the excavation has advanced)

9:00-19:00. Bus meeting site at the corner of Reforma and Constitución, at the entrance to the Jardín Etnobotánico/Hemeroteca.  We won’t have home room this morning, as we will be taking a guided excursion to the town of Yanhuitlán in the Mixteca Alta, northeast of Oaxaca City, with Prof. Spores, who is directing some new excavations there. Professor Spores will introduce Yanhuitlán to us on the bus journey.  We will see the massive church and the  archaeological dig of the sixteenth-century Casa del Cacique (house of the indigenous male leader) at Yanhuitlán.  If we have time, we might also visit another archaeological site.

Please have a substantial breakfast, pack a water bottle and snacks, and please bring a sack lunch and/or plan to buy snacks in the local tienda.  Today we will not be organizing a meal, just giving you a break to find food on your own. This will be a full day’s excursion, with an indefinite return time, ideally by 6 PM, but it is difficult to predict. Here is a Facebook page on Yanhuitlán that should be enjoyable from the photos alone, if you do not read Spanish.

Friday, July 10

11:00-14:00. Curricular Design and Collaboration Session. Location: BIJC, our usual seminar room. Please bring your laptops.  Stephanie and other staff members will be on hand to help with technological applications for assembling curricular units incorporating the week’s content and exploring the humanities questions raised. This will also be an excellent time for doing work in the library next to our seminar room, where special book selections will await our group.

Looking ahead to the weekend:  1) Additional archaeological sites in fairly easy reach of Oaxaca city include, for example, Dainzú, Lambitiyeco, Yagul (great ball court!), San José El Mogote, Zaachila, etc.  Visit this web page for more information.  There are companies in town that offer transportation and guides.   2) We urge you to visit the museums in town that contain wonderful exhibitions of prehispanic artifacts, which could form the basis of a curricular unit (e.g. items relating to the ballgame, or representations of animals and deities, or sculptures of daily life, etc.) One museum is the  Rufino Tamayo Museum of Prehispanic Art (Calle Morelos 503).  Another is the historical museum (Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca) at the Santo Domingo Cultural Center, which includes both pre-Columbian and colonial exhibits.  Both museums ask for entrance fees.  A visit to the Santo Domingo church is also worthwhile, with its elaborate altar decorations.    3) Consider taking a walk to the Biblioteca Infantil (Children’s Library), on Calle José López Alavez #1342, Colonia Xochimilco, across from Casa Robertita, open Saturday and Sunday 10:00 to 19:00.

Children’s library, Oaxaca. (S. Wood, 2010)


“Smiling” Figure in Rufino Tamayo Museum (S. Wood)

Pages from Pearl Lau's journal from 2014. On the right, details from her visit to San José Mogote.

Pages from Pearl Lau’s journal from 2014. On the right, details from her visit to San José Mogote.

Week 2, ETHNOHISTORY, “Seeking Indigenous Perspectives and Cultural Memory through Manuscript Studies”

Week 2: Humanities questions: Why do we often assume (incorrectly) that the Spanish invasion and colonization of Mesoamerica brought total destruction of the ancient civilizations? Despite drastic demographic decline, major dislocations, and a loss of power, how did a critical mass of indigenous people survive and retain certain features of their cultures under colonization? How did they carve out some degree of autonomy and self-determination within the colonial context? Here we will bring to light indigenous perspectives on the era prior to the invasion and on the transformations that took place after European “conquest” and explore how to read manuscripts from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries that contain paintings and texts written in indigenous languages. How much of a role did historiography play in the cultural survival of indigenous communities?  What are the genres of native and Indo-Hispanic manuscripts? What methodologies are involved in “paleography,” “iconography,” and other types of interpretation?  How are image and text related? What are the manuscripts’ recurring themes, and what kinds of memory processes and views of history do they suggest?

Codex housed in the Rufino Tamayo Museum (S. Wood)

Week 2, ETHNOHISTORY (and ETHNOBIOLOGY), Detailed Schedule:

Monday, July 13

Click here for this week’s READING ASSIGNMENTS

Week 2 Study Guide by Stephanie Wood

10:00-11:00. Home Room.  Location: BIJC, our usual seminar room. Socialize with other NEH Summer Scholars and faculty, and discuss pedagogical applications of the preceding days’ content and this week’s required readings, with Ron Lancaster and Stephanie Wood. Please come prepared to share, in a lightning round, your ideas for a curricular unit you hope to develop, and see if other people might like to collaborate with you.

11:00-12:00.  BIJC. Prof. Robert Haskett, University of Oregon, “Myths about the Spanish Conquest and the Spiritual Conquest”

  • Professor Haskett’s handout (to prepare before his lecture)

12:00-13:00.  BIJC. Prof. Haskett, “The Colonial Experience for Indigenous Communities”

13:00-15:00.   Comida Break  (on your own)

15:00-17:00.  BIJC. Prof. Stephanie Wood, University of Oregon, “An Introduction to Mesoamerican Ethnohistory and the Mapas Project” — including interactive exercises

Restored indigenous-authored pictorials (photo from the display at the Biblioteca Córdova; S. Wood, 2013)

Restored indigenous-authored pictorials at the Burgoa Library, Santo Domingo Culural Center.  (Photo from the display at the Biblioteca Córdova; S. Wood, 2013.)

Tuesday, July 14

Click here for this week’s READING ASSIGNMENTS

10:00–11:00.  BIJC.  Home Room. Socialize with other NEH Summer Scholars and faculty, and discuss pedagogical applications of the preceding days’ content and this week’s required readings, with Ron Lancaster and Stephanie Wood.

11:15–12:30.  Walking visit to the Burgoa Library, Santo Domingo Cultural Center, to look at colonial books, maps, and manuscripts; including a short visit to the manuscript restoration workshop, dividing our group into halves for each component of the visit.

12:30–13:00.  Coffee break (Italian Coffee Company is across the street, for example.)

13:00–14:30.  Visit to the Oaxaca cultural history museum, colonial-era rooms, in the Santo Domingo Cultural Center, guided by Profs. Haskett and Wood.  We will have a handout to guide you through the exhibit, and we will be there to answer questions, although loud talking is not allowed inside the museum.  Be prepared to pay an entrance fee for the museum.

14:30–16:30. Comida time on your own.  It is recommended that you eat lightly, as you will be able to sample some of the food you will be learning to cook in the evening cooking class.  Please consider going to the library at the Instituto de Arte Gráfico de Oaxaca, across the street from the Santo Domingo Cultural Center, to take a look at the collection of books on códice, if not during lunch, then another day.

16:30-20:00.  Cooking class. Assemble at our usual bus pick-up point at 16:30 sharp (i.e. 4:30 PM) for an excursion to Universidad La Salle for a cooking class with a chef who will emphasize the indigenous contributions to Mexican cuisine by showing us how to make a mole sauce (molli in Nahuatl).  We are covering the cost of this class for you, but you might give a 5-peso tip to the chef and one to the bus-driver.

Our cooking class at La Salle in 2011. Ya gotta love the hairnets!!!! (S. Wood)

Our cooking class at La Salle in 2011. Ya gotta love the hairnets!!!! (S. Wood)

Wednesday, July 15

Click here for this week’s READING ASSIGNMENTS

10:00–11:00.  BIJC.  Home Room. Socialize with other NEH Summer Scholars and faculty, and discuss pedagogical applications of the prior day’s content and required readings, with Ron Lancaster and Stephanie Wood.

11:00–18:00. The remainder of the day will be occupied with a guided excursion to Nexicho (in the Sierra Norte Zapoteca) to visit a community museum, discuss pictorial manuscrip[ts, and possibly view archaeological remains with our guide, the ethnohistorian Dr. Bas van Doesburg.  Dr. van Doesburg is the director of the BIJC.  Don’t forget your cameras, but we might not be allowed to photograph everything.  Have a substantial breakfast and bring some water and some snacks for the bus ride, which will probably be about an hour.  The community wishes to provide us with lunch (and they will charge us; not sure how much).  If you do not wish to eat the food there, perhaps you can bring a sack lunch.  The weather is difficult to predict, but it could be cooler in the mountains than it is in the valley. As always, be prepared with comfortable shoes and with appropriate clothing or an umbrella just in case it rains.  Be prepared with a small tip for the bus driver. Linked is a video playlist taken by Vinny Civarelli Jr. where you can see what happens on the excursion. 

Organ cacti make natural fences. Ethnobotanical garden, Oaxaca. (S. Wood, 2007)

Organ cacti make natural fences. Ethnobotanical garden, Oaxaca. (S. Wood, 2007)

Thursday, July 16

Click here for this week’s READING ASSIGNMENTS

9:00-10:00.  No home room this morning. We will meet at the Jardín Etnobotánico (Ethnobotanical Garden), at the corner of Reforma and Constitución streets, for a guided tour and an explanation of Oaxacan plants and their cultural and economic significance.  This well-planned garden helps us appreciate the native flora of Oaxaca and teaches us much about indigenous peoples’ uses of plants for food, medicinals, textiles, dyes, etc. With Diego Sánchez as our guide.  He will speak to us in English.  We are covering the admission cost for you to this garden, but you might each give Diego a small tip (5-10 pesos, perhaps).

10:30–14:15.  Bus meeting site at the corner of Reforma and Constitución, at the entrance to the Jardín Etnobotánico/Hemeroteca.  Excursion to to view a cochineal farm south of Oaxaca, called Rancho La Nopalera or Tlapanochestli, near San Bartolo Coyotepec. Here is an extensive web page about the farm, with photos and explanations in English.  La grana cochinilla (cochineal) is a red dye made from ground insects that grow on the nopalli, a cactus central to pre-Columbian cuisine (and still today) and especially important in the Spanish colonial era for the production of the red dye. Here is a video playlist of the cochineal farm taken by NEH Summer Scholar Vinny Civarelli Jr.

14:15–16:00. Lunch break (on your own in Oaxaca). Please note that a two-day festival of “moles” (sauces) begins in the Ethnobotanical Garden in Oaxaca.  You might like to sample some of them.

16:00-17:00.   BIJC.  Presentation by Stephanie Wood, “Introduction to a Manuscript-Based Ethnobotany of Oaxaca.”  We may also see a short clip about chocolate making that our filmmaker has provided for our curricular uses.

17:00-18:00. BIJC.  Presentations by Stephanie Wood, “An Amate Painting Interactive Experiment” and “Amatl Use in Art Today” (ideally, with a member of the Domínguez family of Nahuatl-speaking amateros from the state of Guerrero, Mexico, as a guest speaker), video footage taken by NEH Summer Scholar Vinny Civarelli Jr. We may have a brief amatl-paper codex art exercise.  Please see this image beforehand, of “Codex Delilah: Journey from Mechica to Chicana” (1992):; this one, by former NEH Summer Scholar, Pearl Lau:; and, this page with images of student art work taught by former NEH Summer Scholar Angela Guy:

A nopal penca infested with the bugs that are used for making the cochineal dye. (S. Wood, 2010)

A nopal penca infested with the bugs that are used for making the cochineal dye. (S. Wood, 2010)

Friday, July 17

11:00-14:00.  Curricular Design and Collaboration Session. Location: BIJC, our usual seminar room. Because your two-page proposal for your curricular unit will be due on Monday, you may wish to take advantage of this work-time and work-space to advance your project.

Looking ahead to the weekend:  1) We are hoping to organize an optional excursion to watch a game of Pelota Mixteca/Zapoteca.  More details to be announced.  Possibly on Sunday.  2) On Saturday afternoon watch for the parade (calenda) of the Guelaguetza dance festival.  This is a free taste of the extensive dancing that goes on during the day on July 20 and 27, Mondays, in the stadium (which we will not be attending as a group).  A great location for watching the parade is along the pedestrian-only section of Calle Macedonio de Alcalá.  3) On Sunday, July 19, at 20:30 (8:30 PM) in the Auditorio Guelaguetza, you might wish to attend the theatrical performance, “Donají, La Leyenda.” It will be in Spanish. It is loaded with myth about local cultures.  We are not organizing the event;  you are free to do this on your own.  4) Another excellent experience on the weekend would be to book a steam bath (temazcalli, or “temazcal” for short).  This can be expensive, but it can also be an unforgettable experience, and it is a form of “bathing” that reaches back to pre-Columbian times. 5)  If you wish to take more cooking classes (perhaps including a trailing partner or friend), you might consider doing this on the weekend. Here, for example, is a link to Susana Trilling’s cooking class. And this one takes you to reviews of Pilar Cabrera‘s cooking class.  There are probably others. 6) Remember, too, that your two-page proposal for your curricular unit will be due on Monday.

Week 3, COMMUNITY ARTS, “Cultural Continuity and Innovation in Textiles, Pottery, Street Art (with some attention to Ethnomusicology)”

Week 3: Humanities Questions: Historically, literacy has been restricted to a small elite in indigenous communities, and even today, with federal support for education through the sixth grade, indigenous boys rarely attend school for more than a few years and girls are even less likely to attend.  Given that, how have Mesoamericans preserved and disseminated cultural knowledge through other means, such as the arts? What are the “folk arts” and how are they distinguished from the “fine arts”? Is there an iconography for “reading” these forms (something akin to the iconography of reading manuscripts)?  How have women and men embedded or encoded meaning in the textiles they weave? How do the natural environment, religious beliefs, or ways of thinking about gender find representation in the arts of indigenous cultures? How has pottery become a hallmark of culture in certain communities? On the other hand, how are potters (or weavers, etc.) responding to tourism and market influences, innovating on ancient traditions while also retaining a unique identity? How has photography played a role in recording culture, whether to preserve its history or to cast it through a frame that “others” the people on the opposite side of the lens? (This latter question runs over into the fourth week, as well.)

Week 3, COMMUNITY ARTS, Detailed Schedule:

Women’s Weaving Cooperative, Teotitlán (S. Wood)

Monday, July 20

Click here for this week’s READING ASSIGNMENTS

Week 3 Study Guide by Stephanie Wood

10:00-11:00. BIJC.  Home Room. Socialize with other NEH Summer Scholars and faculty, and discuss pedagogical applications of the prior days’ content and this week’s required readings, with Ron Lancaster and Stephanie Wood. Two-page proposals due today (outlining your curricular unit). Please email a digital copy to Stephanie and Ron.

Excursion Guide to Teotitlán del Valle, by Stephanie Wood

11:15-19:00.  Bus meeting site at the corner of Reforma/Fiallo and Independencia.  Guided Excursion to Teotitlán del Valle with Professor Lynn Stephen, video footage taken by NEH Summer Scholar Vinny Civarelli Jr,. Teotitlan is famous for its textiles. We will learn about natural dye production for textiles, including cultivation, grinding, dying, spinning, from our hosts, Francisco (“Paco”) González Vicente and Petra Vicente, his mother. Professor Stephen will examine questions of cultural continuity and change over time.  We will also see obvious links to our ethnobotanical theme from the previous week. Please know that you will not be expected to purchase textiles in the Vicente home, but of course you will have the option. If you would rather make a small donation to the family for the demonstrations they give us, that would be welcomed, but NEH is also providing them with a small honorarium.  We may also get to see the family altar, which is a combination of Christian-Catholic and indigenous traditions. For lunch you will have three options, to stay at the home of our hosts for a beverage made from purified water, a soup, and some quesadillas (50 pesos per person), or you can go into town and look for food, or you can eat a sack lunch that you might bring.  If you head into the community during your lunch hour, you might try to take a look at the local church, built atop a pre-Columbian temple (visible in some of the carved stones in the facade of the church and the foundations visible at the back of the church).  At 16:00 hours (4 PM), we will visit the local bilingual school and hear about the nature of the school day and maybe get to speak with students.  The local teacher, Zeferino Mendoza, will introduce us to the students and answer questions about curriculum.  Please remember a small tip for the bus driver when we have returned to Oaxaca.

Tuesday, July 21

Click here for this week’s READING ASSIGNMENTS

Excursion Guide for Etla, by Stephanie Wood

9:00-13:00.  Meet the bus at Reforma and Constitución, the entrance to the Ethnobotanical Garden.  Excursion to San Agustín Etla to view the Centro de las Artes San Agustín (el CASA) and the hand-made art paper workshop on the same property.  El CASA is a massive art museum made from an old textile factory that has been beautifully restored.  Founding Director of these facilities is the Mexican artist Francisco Toledo. El CASA has a rotating art exhibition, so we will find out closer to the start of our Institute what will be on view.  Be prepared to pay an admission to El CASA if there is an exhibition; but it might be free.  We will be guided by Marietta Bernsdorff, a curator of women’s art collectives (textile, photography, etc.). The paper workshop (free, but donations accepted) will tie in with our ethnobotanical focus begun last week.  Please remember a small tip for the bus driver.

13:00-15:00. We will return to Oaxaca for lunch on our own.  But we would recommend that you try Itanoní, the indigenous or criollo maize cafe with a conscience, if you haven’t yet.  It is on Calle Belisario Domínguez #513, in the Reforma neighborhood, north of Niños Héroes.  You could share cabs there and back.

15:00-17:00. Back in the BIJC seminar room:  Prof. Stephanie Wood, “Teaching with Textiles: Text, Subtext, Context, and Intertextuality” — an introductory lecture that will pave the way for our walk to the nearby textile museum.

17:00–19:00.  Self-guided visit to the Textile Museum (Hidalgo 917).  This represents another link to our ethnobotany studies.

Detail, Colored Scarves (S. Wood)

Wednesday, July 22

Click here for this week’s READING ASSIGNMENTS

10:00-11:00.  NEW SEMINAR LOCATION:  Biblioteca Burgoa (BB), Santo Domingo Cultural Center on Macedonio Alcalá, just north of the cross street Ignacio Allende.  Let’s meet in the northwest corner of patio and enter together through the side door.  Home Room. Socialize with other NEH Summer Scholars and faculty, and discuss pedagogical applications of the prior day’s content and required readings, with Ron Lancaster and Stephanie Wood.

Excursion Guide to Tlapazola, by Stephanie Wood

11:30-17:00. Meet the bus at Reforma and Constitución, the entrance to the Ethnobotanical Garden for an excursion to San Marcos Tlapazola led by Professor Stephen, with an introduction on the bus. Video footage of the Ethnobotanical Garden has been taken by NEH Summer Scholar Vinny Civarelli Jr.  Two themes will guide our inquiry — what elements in clay production represent cultural continuities and what represent change, and, what is the nature of women’s role in cultural production of this type?  You might familiarize yourselves with this web page before our trip: even though these are not the exact women we will visit.  Also, check out the videos of the family we did visit in 2010:  See the Required Readings page for reading assignments and other resources. Please bring a sack lunch.  We should be able to purchase beverages and snacks in the village.  In order to be polite about photography, we will designate one or two people to take pictures to share with the rest of us on our bus drive to Tlapazola.  And please remember to bring a small tip for the bus driver. Excursion video footage of San Marcos Tlapazola has been taken by NEH Summer Scholar Vinny Civarelli Jr.

Potter with Figurine (S. Wood)

Thursday, July 23

Click here for this week’s READING ASSIGNMENTS

10:00-10:30.  BB.  Home Room. Socialize with other NEH Summer Scholars and faculty, and discuss pedagogical applications of the prior day’s content and required readings, with Ron Lancaster and Stephanie Wood.

10:30–12:00.  BBOaxacan Street Art, presentation by Professor Stephen and Itandehui F. Orozco.

12:30–15:00.  Café La Jícara. Presentation and demonstration of songs by hip hop artist Mare, Advertencia Lírika.  You can purchase coffee here, if you wish.  Lunch afterwards would be another possibility. We also hope to include a short walking tour of street art in the vicinity of La Jícara, guided by Itandehui. Here is video footage of a introduction to Oaxacan rap music and performance of Mare was taken by NEH Summer Scholar Vinny Civarelli Jr.

15:00-18:00 Break. You might want to explore to find and photograph additional street art.  Take a buddy, and do not stray too far off the beaten path. Please be discreet with cameras, iPads, or even cell-phone cameras.

18:00-20:00.  BB.  Presentation.  Former scholarship recipient Gabriela Loaeza from the Casa de la Mujer will speak with us about the education of indigenous female youth in this special scholarship and leadership program. You are welcomed (but it is not required) to share donations for the students — such as paper, pens, pencils, paints, greeting cards from your students, small-sized clothing you might bring from home, etc., or a little cash donation, if you’d prefer.  No pressure, of course. The idea behind this is to give you some glimpses of the educational challenges for indigenous youth in Oaxaca today, and how some people are trying to make a difference, filling in where the state is failing.

Friday, July 24

11:00-14:00.  BB.  Curricular Design and Collaboration Session. Anticipating your presentations next week, you may wish to take advantage of the work-time and work-space we are offering here.

Guelaguetza Dancers from the Calenda (S. Wood)

Looking ahead to the weekend:  1) Once again, on Saturday afternoon, keep your eye out for the parade (calenda) associated with the Guelaguetza dance festival.  2) Again, on Sunday evening you might want to try to catch the theatrical event in the Auditorio Guelaguezta, “Donají, La Leyenda.”  3) We will also hope to catch sight of the Orquesta Pasatono’s free concert associated with the dance festival, near the Santo Domingo church. This group plays indigenous musical instruments and sings some songs in native languages.

Looking ahead to Monday:  Try to provide Stephanie with any special requests about when you’d like to present a glimpse of your curricular unit next week.  Jot down and give her a piece of paper on Thursday or Friday (Week 3) with the names of everyone in your team, the theme of your unit, and when you’d like to present (Tuesday? Wednesday? Thursday? Friday?).  We will try to accommodate requests as much as we are able.  Your presence for the presentations next week, and the feedback you will give your peers is an essential part of the summer institute. Show us what you have learned and how creative you are!

Week 4, FILM, “Mesoamerican Histories through Film: Representations of Cultures and Societies”

Week 4: Humanities Questions: We have often relied upon film to re-create history and make it come alive for us. But how reliable are such representations of people, places, and periods from long ago?  How reliable are representations of cultures different from the filmmaker’s own?  What filters and lenses can we identify?  Upon what resources does the filmmaker depend? How are they employed?  How can we teach our students to be better filmmakers as well as critical thinkers while viewing films? What happens when indigenous people film their own realities?  Can film be a tool for cultural renewal and decolonization?

Filmmaker, Gabriela Martínez (S. Wood)

Week 4, FILM, Detailed Schedule:

Monday, July 27

Click here for this week’s READING ASSIGNMENTS

Week 4 Study Guide by Stephanie Wood

10:00-11:00.  BB.  Home Room. Discuss pedagogical applications of the prior days’ content and discuss this week’s required readings, with Ron Lancaster and Stephanie Wood.

11:00–12:00.  BB.  Brainstorming session for crafting a film about Oaxacan street art, with a showing of still images and interviews with artists. With leadership from Professor and Filmmaker Gabriela Martínez.  We will ask for you to give us your suggestions with regard to telling the story and what the essential questions would be for making an educational documentary aimed at high school and college students.

12:00–12:30.   Coffee break.

12:30–14:00.  BB. Screening Deshilando condenas, bordando libertades (2005), a prize-winning documentary, 35 minutes, with introduction and discussion led by the filmmaker, Concepción Núñez and interpretation by Professor Martínez. Synopsis:  This film explores the sad story of indigenous women imprisoned in Oaxaca over many years for drug trafficking, in many cases having been duped by a relative into carrying a suitcase by bus to Mexico City, not knowing it contained marijuana or another substance. The filmmaker will provide an update after the film about the eventual fate of the women.

14:00–End of Day.   Comida, Siesta, and Independent Working Break.  Feel free to try to see part of the Guelaguetza dance festival (on your own). Here is video footage of the Guelaguetza dance festival taken by NEH Summer Scholar Vinny Civarelli Jr.

Tuesday, July 28

Click here for this week’s READING ASSIGNMENTS

10:00-12:00.  BB.  Professor Martínez will introduce and screen her film Women, Media, and Rebellion in Oaxaca (2008), a documentary, lasting 37 minutes, and lead the subsequent discussion.  Synopsis:  Following a teacher’s strike in Oaxaca, Mexico, in August 2006, about a thousand women (many of them indigenous) marched to the installations of COR-TV, taking over the stations to voice their political, social, economic, and cultural concerns while also calling for the resignation of the State’s governor, Ulises Ruíz Ortíz. The film opens with the 2007 celebration of the first anniversary of the takeover, and quickly moves to narrate how and why women got to this point.  Martínez lets the women and other actors involved in the events speak for themselves. Issues of justice, globalization, women’s rights, and human rights violations converge at the core of a social uprising, in which media becomes an important site for the struggle.

Here is the link to the free, streaming version: :

12:00–12:30.   Coffee break.

12:30–14:00.  BB.  NEH Summer Scholars Share Projects.  Individually, or preferably in groups, you will be presenting to your peers about your curricular units with goal of getting their feedback.  Ron Lancaster and Stephanie Wood will also be available to provide feedback or participate in discussions, unless they  have already provided feedback on your proposals or if you have met with them individually during homeroom sessions or on Fridays.

14:00–15:30.  Comida Break.

15:30–17:30.  BB.  NEH Summer Scholars Share Projects.  Participants will be sharing their curricular units with colleagues and getting their feedback.  With Ron Lancaster and Stephanie Wood.

Wednesday, July 29

Click here for this week’s READING ASSIGNMENTS

10:00-12:30. BB.  Viewing of Keep Your Eyes on Guatemala, a documentary by Gabriela Martínez about efforts to uncover the truth about the genocide against the Maya in the period of conflict, 1960 through 1996, and bring the culpable to justice using a combination of archival documents, testimonials, and forensic archaeology. 54 minutes, with an introduction and discussion led by the filmmaker.  Here’s the link to the free, streaming versions:

Keep Your Eyes On Guatemala (English version with subtitles)

Tengan puestos los ojos sobre Guatemala (Spanish versión)

12:30–13:00.  Coffee break

13:00–14:30. BB. NEH Summer Scholars Share Projects.  Participants will be sharing their curricular units with colleagues and getting their feedback.

14:30-16:30.  Comida break (on your own)

16:30-18:00.  BB. NEH Summer Scholars Share Projects.  Participants will be sharing their curricular units with colleagues and getting their feedback.

Thursday, July 30

Click here for this week’s READING ASSIGNMENTS

10:00-12:00  BB.  Professor Martínez will introduce, screen, and lead the discussion of Blossoms of Fire (2000, 74 min.), a documentary about Zapotec women of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, directed by Maureen Gosling.

12:00–12:30.  Coffee break

12:30–14:30. BB. NEH Summer Scholars Share Projects.  Participants will be sharing their curricular units with colleagues and getting their feedback.

14:30-16:30.  Comida break (on your own)

16:30-18:00.  BB. NEH Summer Scholars Share Projects.  Participants will be sharing their curricular units with colleagues and getting their feedback.

Friday, July 31

10:00-11:30  BB.  NEH Summer Scholars Share Projects.  Participants will be sharing their curricular units with colleagues and getting their feedback.  With Ron Lancaster and Stephanie Wood.

11:30–12:00 Coffee break.

12:00–14:00 BB.  NEH Summer Scholars Share Projects.  Participants will be sharing their curricular units with colleagues and getting their feedback.  With Ron Lancaster and Stephanie Wood.  We will also complete institute evaluations (in two forms, one, in hardcopy, for Stephanie and team and another one for NEH, online) and distribute final checks (unless they  have been direct-deposited for you on about this date).

14:00-19:30  Comida, Siesta, and Independent Working Break.

19:00-21:00  Evening Farewell Reception.  Location: across from the BIJC, in the “Casa en Independencia” (same locations as the Welcome Reception). We hope to have live music, Oaxacan food, and beverages at not cost to you.

Monday, September 21.   Submit a polished version of your new curricular unit (2-4 pages) via email. May be team-authored.  Please identify the names of all NEH Summer Scholars involved, the grade level, the subject, and a title for the project.  All projects should also be emailed or sent on a disk to Stephanie Wood, 2085 University Street, Eugene, OR 97403-1541.  Projects that will be made available via the Internet, without password protection, must not have any copyright violations.  If you have copyright clearances (or no violations), you may also be encouraged to submit your curricular units to MERLOT or EDSITEment!

Please note: Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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