Canciones Criollas: Picturing Argentina
General Catalog Course Title:
Special Topics in Visual Studies: Word and Image
Terms Offered:
Fall 2009
Course Thread: 
Visible Language
Dubovsky, Anthony

An experimental interdisciplinary seminar/studio in which we take as our focus the folklore of Argentina—her stories, places and songs--as an inspiration for creative work to be made by each student in response—paintings, drawing, collage, new media… A guiding theme will be our close reading of Lucio V. Mansilla’s Una Excursion a los Indios Ranqueles, an account of the meeting between European Argentines and their Native American counterparts. Published in 1870, the book offers a fascinating window into the world of 19th century Argentina—the conflicted relationship between immigrants and native peoples, city and countryside, Europe and the Americas, present and past--with the figure of the “gaucho”--and that of Mansilla himself--bridging the two worlds. A conflict over the meaning of “land.” Indeed, many of the questions raised by Mansilla are with us in today’s world as well: questions of people hood, competing ancestral identities, cultural meanings attached to the notion of place, and how we understand the past in relation to the (relentless) demands of the present. A second important theme will be the Argentine folklore song tradition—in which many of these same questions are given musical form. By listening to the recordings of traditional singers such as Atahualpa Yupanqui, Jaime Dávalos, Jorge Cafrune, Chango Rodriguez, and José Larralde, among others, we will have an additional point of entry into world of Argentine folk culture—and its compelling musical presence Where possible, we will read mansilla in the original --his criollo Spanish is quite beautiful. However, the book is available in translation--and the class will be open to non-Spanish speakers with an interest in the subject. The ideal student for this class will have at least some background in Spanish, be curious about the interweavings of Argentine folklore and song, and eager to experiment with how these interweavings can be given visual form...

For more detailed information about classes, please visit the UC Berkeley Online Schedule of Classes.