Pre-Hispanic Art and Design of South America


Paper details 

Your final paper can address any topic in art and design of South America. The final paper can take the form of a study of an artwork, a culture, or theme. For instance, you could write on the Temple of Inscriptions (an artwork), the Art of the Maya (a culture), or Cosmology in Maya Art and Architecture (a theme). Since ideally this is a pan South American art and design history course, you can pick any culture or area that we have not looked at as well. Whatever topic you choose, try to follow an outline like the one I devised below (if you divide your final paper up into pages, it is easier to compose and write). Also, I will try to keep the outline below as succinct as possible, but comprehensive at the same time.

However, let’s say you are interested in a singular work, because this usually poses more of a challenge. How about the Temple of Inscriptions? Begin your paper by discussing where in the world this edifice (Southern Mexico) is located and the culture associated with it (Maya). Explain the important things that make this culture distinct from others in Mesoamerica, i.e. gods, artwork, and so forth. You can also compare numerous artworks within the corpus of Maya architecture from other sites such as Chichen Itza, Tikal, Bonampak etc. You could even reference Frank Lloyd Wright, a modern architect who used Maya motifs in his own designs!

Discuss the formal qualities of the temple (why does it have nine levels?); discuss its shape, color, size; what makes it Maya, what are the stylistic qualities that convey it is from Maya culture? Then proceed with the context of the temple: why was it made, who is buried there? What kinds of funerary items were found in it, if any? What do these objects/artworks symbolize? How do they relate to Maya civilization?

When writing on a theme like Maya cosmology in art and architecture, you can investigate a lot of different types of art and architecture as long as it refers to cosmology: painting, ceramics, sculpture, architecture and so forth; but contextualize the work(s). This class is really about contextualizing the art object. Remember that the outline below is only an example, and you may find that you will not need to go into so many subtopics.

Sources should weigh heavily on books, and Internet sources used should only come from bona fide sites like museums and universities. If you have any problems or feel that you are stuck, let me know ASAP. The paper should have a one inch margins, type should be no larger than 12 point font, double-spaced, paginated with the number 1 starting on the first sheet after the cover sheet, cover sheet should include title of paper, your name, my name, class title, and submission date.

Sample essay outline: The Temple of Inscriptions
Page 1
1. Maya Geographical Area:
a. Differences between Maya Highlands and Lowlands
b. Types of Flora and Fauna (remember that animal and plant symbolism i.e. jaguar, maize is important in Maya culture)
c. Palenque (where Temple of Inscriptions is located)

Page 2
1. Culture of the Maya:
a. Hieroglyphic Writing
b. Ritual and Solar Calendar
c. Numerical System
d. Status items such as jade, feathers, cacao, obsidian etc.

Page 3
1. What are the differences between Class, and Post-Classic Maya sites such as Palenque, Chichen Itza, Bonampak, Tikal, Yaxchilan ( these sites have works that we have studied in class; exception being Bonampak)?

Pages 4
A. Temple of Inscriptions:
a. Materials
b. Symbolism of nine levels and thirteen heavens and relationship to cosmology
c. What were the things that were found in the tomb?
i. jewelry
ii. masks
d. The Sarcophagus of Pacal (very important finding, also very beautiful)

Page 5
1. What other structures are found in Palenque?
a. The Palace
b. Ballcourt
c. Conclude with your own subjective response to the Temple of Inscriptions, Maya culture and anything else that you think is pertinent.

Page 6:
Images of Temple of Inscriptions

Page 7
Other possible topics:
1. The Art of the Aztec
2. “ “ Inca
3. “ “ Maya
More specific topics are better to work with:
4. The Ballgame in the Maya World
5. Human Sacrifice in Aztec Art
6. The Gods of the Maya Pantheon
7. Inca Architecture
8. The Mummies of Chinchorro

Hints for Writing Papers
I. Rules of Thumb
Write in clear, straightforward, grammatically correct English. Be honest. Do not make statements you yourself do not mean or do not understand. Prune. Avoid unnecessary words. Try to avoid clichés and jargon. Spell accurately. Use words precisely. Get in the habit of consulting a good dictionary. Use colloquialisms sparingly. Use correct punctuation.
Try to organize your paper so that ideas proceed logically.
Read a first draft aloud to yourself to determine whether it sounds stilted. Or show a first draft to a friend, or to a college writing tutor for editorial suggestions.
There are excellent, inexpensive, short paperbacks available on English usage and style, such as:
Blanche Ellsworth, English Simplified.
William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White, Elements of Style.
II. Crediting Your Sources
“PLAGIARISM. n. 1. The appropriation or imitation of the language, ideas, and thoughts of another author, and representation of them as one’s original work.” (Random House Dictionary of the English Language, College Edition.)
Students are expected to meet standards of academic integrity, If you steal someone else’s words or ideas without acknowledgment, you are a thief. In practice, this means you must provide written acknowledgment of language and ideas that come from sources other than your own eyes and mind.
• If you use the exact language of another author, put quotation marks around it and cite the source.
• If you paraphrase another author, cite the source. A paraphrase is a restatement of a text or passage giving the meaning in another form; it is rewording.
• If you use an idea stated by another author or speaker, cite the source.
There are two ways to credit your sources, (1) footnotes/endnotes and (2) parenthetical citations.
Reference footnotes are usually written and punctuated like this: 1
1. Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973), p. 85.
Once a work has been cited in full, as in the example above, subsequent references to it should be abbreviated. If there are no intervening references, this is done by writing:
2. Ibid. (Abbreviation of the Latin word ibidem, which means in the same place.) This refers not only to the same book but also to the same page 85 in that book.
3. Ibid., p. 117. This refers to the same book by Turabian but to another page.
If you refer to a work already cited in full but not cited in the immediately preceding footnote, you invent a sensible shortened form of the original full citation, always including the author’s last name and a part of the title. For example:
14. Turabian, Manual for Writers, p. 119.
In the case of an article in a periodical (that is, a newspaper, magazine, scholarly journal—in other words, a publication that appears periodically) the title of the article to which you are referring is placed in quotation marks, the title of the periodical is italicized, and the volume number and date of the periodical are included. For example:
7. Leo Steinberg, “The Polemical Part,” Art in America 67 (March-April 1979): 115-117.
The examples above are usually called reference footnotes. There are also content footnotes, in which an author amplifies a point made in the main text or perhaps directs a reader to sundry other sources on the same subject. Often these are used for subsidiary matter, in order not to distract a reader from the flow of an essay. For example, let us suppose you were writing a short descriptive paper about these hints. You might include a content footnote such as this:
16. Although Rosenthal recommended that students purchase Turabian’s “Manual for Writers” for their reference libraries, one of her colleagues suggested that he was being “nitpicky,” and stressed that the important point is to acknowledge the sources of your ideas.
It is acceptable to put your footnotes on a page at the end of your paper rather than at the bottom of each page.
Parenthetical citations are usually written and punctuated like this (Smith 1978, 85).
If your sentence includes the author’s name, place the citation immediate afterwards as in
Smith (1978, 85) believes that plagiarism ought to be punished by a public lashing.
Once a work has been cited parenthetically, as in the example above, subsequent references to it should be abbreviated. If there are no intervening references, this is done by writing
(Ibid.). same citation and same page
(Ibid., 117). same citation, different page
Footnotes or end notes may be used to address subsidiary matters (as in content footnotes above). These should be used sparingly.
Bibliographies appear on a separate page at the end of an essay. A bibliography should list the sources you have actually used in writing the paper, not each book or article read or lecture heard but only those relevant to what you have written. Don’t litter bibliographies with books irrelevant to your paper in order to create the impression that you have pitched a tent in the library.
Bibliographical references look a little bit like inverted footnotes. Bibliographies are usually arranged in alphabetical order according to the last name of the author. For example:
Ashberry, John. Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. New York: Viking Press, 1975.
Bachelard, Gaston. The Psychoanalysis of Fire. Translated by Alan C. M. Ross. Boston: Beacon Press, 1964.
Cage, John. Silence. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1973.
You also may use commas instead of periods to separate the items.
Steinberg, Leo, “The Polemical Part,” Art in America, 67 (March-April 1979), 114-127.
(Note: Titles of books are italicized while article titles are placed within quotation marks with the journal title italicized. In a bibliography, you give the complete page numbers of an article, not merely the pages you have cited.)
III. A Few Conventions
A. Titles of visual works are italicized or underlined (the typist’s signal to the typesetter to italicize). Titles of visual works are not put in quotation marks. This custom applies when a work actually has a title that has been given to it by the person who made it. For example:
Manet’s Olympia shocked the public.
Sometimes this custom applies even when the maker is unknown, anonymous, or has not actually given the work the title by which it has become known. For example:
I have always wanted to see the Charioteer from the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi.
Douglas McClellan recently made an amusing assemblage with materials bought at the flea market: a reproduction of Dürer’s Self-Portrait of 1500 and a circular scrub brush with tough bristles.
It would be equally correct not to italicize self-portrait in the above case. For example:
Panofsky and other art historians have pointed out that in his Self-Portrait of 1500, Dürer deliberately painted himself to resemble Christ.
B. The titles of architectural monuments are not italicized. For example:
The remains of the Parthenon are in Athens, whereas the Pantheon is in Rome.
C. It is fairly common to state the full name of the maker, the full title of the work, the date, and often the medium, the first time you mention a work. Sometimes it also helps to cite the collection. For example:
Meyer Schapiro calls Georges Seurat’s oil, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, 1884-86, “an astonishing achievement” for a twenty-five-year-old artist.6
Later in your essay:
T.J. Clark might disagree with Schapiro’s observation that Seurat’s Grande Jatte expresses the happiness of a society at rest.8
D. Captions or legends to illustrations should cite the following: name; title (or customarily used title, if there is no formal title); date, medium, dimensions; collection or owner and location of collection or owner. Illustrations are located at the end of a paper after notes and bibliography. The sources from which the illustrations have been taken should be noted in correct bibliographic form.
Edouard Manet. Olympia, 1863. Oil, 51 x 74-3/4″, The Louvre, Paris.
IV. Common Problems
A. Overuse of passive voice.
For example: The Olympia was painted by Manet in 1863.
Better: Manet painted the Olympia in 1863.
B. Dangling participles.
Wrong: On arriving to Manhattan, Calder’s huge sculpture Hawk for Peace appeared menacing to me.
Question: Did the sculpture fly or take the ferry from NJ?
Rule: A participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence must refer to the grammatical subject of the sentence (Strunk and White, Elements of Style).
The incorrect example above might be rewritten:
On arriving in Manhattan, I asked directions to the Museum of Modern Art.
When I first saw Calder’s Hawk for Peace, the huge, black sculpture appeared menacing to me.
Bolted sheet steel painted black, Calder’s sculpture Hawk for Peace is twice the height of passersby.
C. Contractions, possessives, plurals
a) Its (a possessive adjective).
The legs of the table are carved. Its legs are carved. (possessive)
It’s (it is; noun = it + verb = is)
It’s a carved table. Amazing! It’s not formica! (contraction of it and is)
It’s a centipede. If the centipede wore shoes, its shoe polisher would be busy. Dick and Jane love their cat. It’s an unusually friendly cat. Its eyes are green. It’s a shame that this friendly cat scratches their Louis XIV chair.
b) Artists, artist’s, and artists’.
Plural noun: artists (no apostrophe) = more than one artist.
Two or more artists often disagree.
Singular possessive.
One artist’s cadmium red is another artist’s pale pink.
Plural possessive.
The artists’ rent was fairly cheap.
A group of artists found a twenty-thousand-square-foot loft. These artists were fortunate. The artists rented the loft. The artists’ loft became a central attraction in town: an “alternative space,” as they say. The artists’ rent was fairly cheap. The artists sold a lot of work. Sales of the artists’ work helped pay the rent. Each artist’s profit contributed to maintaining the loft.

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