Argentina: Modern Arts, Modern Literature, Modern Contexts

7 Jan

Program Director:  Henry Laufenberg, English
Dates of Instruction:
August 11 – September 4 , 2008

It is a place of chic cosmopolitan cities, soaring snowy mountains, great plains, lush tropics thronging with colorful birds and butterflies, friendly villages where cultural practice hasn’t changed much since pre-Columbian times, and stark beaches dotted with penguins. It is a place where even visitors on tight budgets can live very well.  Its people — who love family above all else, but finds close seconds in friends, food, romance, reading and serious conversation — are known the world over for their habit of enjoying themselves when they can.  Provided you avoid displays of arrogance or superiority, the locals welcome you to do the same.

It is a place where students from the University of Washington have ridden horses with real cowboys, toured boutique wine, olive oil and chocolate makers, snowboarded with new friends from half a dozen countries, strolled grand boulevards hard to distinguish from Paris or Madrid, eaten outstanding beef, pastas, pastries and gelato, talked politics over espresso with worldly locals, and danced until sunrise in a wrought-iron balconied warehouse designed by Gustave Eiffel. It is the Americas’ great enigma, Argentina.

Argentina has recently withstood, yet again, serious economic and political upheaval.  Her proud people have seen their way back from many similar downturns in the past century.  As such, Argentina is a land of exasperated defeat and excited renewal, and currently this mood is particularly conspicuous.  While rural areas are still suffering and the suburbs cling to slim hopes, cities and tourist centers are in the midst of an explosion of cottage industry and grass-roots arts spurred by both economic dislocation and new market opportunities.

At the center of this economic and social reformation is Argentina’s inscrutable capital, Buenos Aires.  Most often compared to Paris or Madrid, many Porteños (the resident of Buenos Aires) fancy their city as being more like New York than any other.  But closer examination shows no easy analogies.  Buenos Aires is a city of striking beauty and layered history where residents vigorously enjoy and stubbornly endure complex social, cultural, and political lives in an imported European setting.  Buenos Aires is also typically Latin American, particularly in its political life, folk culture and relatively volatile economy.

Your studies in Argentina will engage the following controlling question: how does the political and social volatility in Argentina’s recent history manifest in its modern and postmodern arts and literature?  We will explore literature, fine arts, dance, and avant-garde movements, and students will be encouraged to pursue their own interests in any field of artistic or creative endeavor as well, including folk culture and popular cultural subgenres like urban arts and popular music.  Historical and culture contexts will center on Argentina’s recent economic crisis, its economic boom in the 1990’s, and its legacy of similar cycles in the 20th century. Theoretical context will include readings and lectures on salient concepts such as national identities and mythologies, surrealism, dadaism, socialist realist arts, nihilism, escapism, anti-foundationalism, rejection and cooption of meta-narratives, modern adaptation of folk and traditional cultures, and heterotopias.

The course will be conducted in English, and host six to eight local guest speakers, including university faculty, art world professionals, artists and performers.  Many activities will be organized in which students will work together in small groups for extended periods.  Students will be expected to keep journals, manage “expert” panels in preparation for guest speakers, keep up with scholarly readings, research and write essays, all activities on which they will be evaluated.  Program sites will include Buenos Aires and nearby rural areas, smaller provincial capitals, and UNESCO world heritage site Colonia, Uruguay.

Students who are selected for this program will be team-oriented, positive, intellectually curious, and mature enough to conduct self-motivated research in real world settings. Participants will earn 5 credits of ENGL 490 (English Foreign Study) or ENGL 363 (Literature and Other Arts) or CHID 472 – Latin America Study Abroad (I&S). Participants should also check with their academic advisors prior to enrolling to determine how these credits may apply to major requirements.

Student costs:  
$2,625 Program Fee
$200 IPE Fee
Additional costs include: Round trip airfare to Buenos Aires, insurance, immunizations, some meals, and personal spending money.

Apply Now - Click here for application


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