Many of the objects that are admired today in Spain’s major museums arrived here in the Early Modern period. Collections of art, artifacts, and objects – everythig from paintings and sculptures to armor, textiles, feathers, books, exotic shells and even animal horns – transmitted a variety of meanings, many of which are lost to the average museum visitor today.
Understanding these objects (their origins, how they arrived and how they were seen) introduces students to a deeper appreciation of how Spanish history and identity has been and is created in relationship with the rest of the world, and especially with Spanish-speaking America and Asia. The course will explore these issues using ten selected objects that will provide a view of early globalization focusing on questions raised by the objects themselves. One of the topics to analyze will be the relationship of art to diplomacy, seeking to shed light on the value of paintings of distant places, peoples and animals as “proof” or “document” in the age before photography, or the place of “the others” (non-Europeans) in the history of Spanish and European societies in general, both in the past and in today’s globalized and multicultural world. Attention will also be paid to questions such as commerce, consumption, religion, and gender in a world of travelling objects and persons, always with an emphasis on elucidating how these travels created new meanings for objects in new contexts.
This course has a practical, object-based character, with practically all of the sessions taking place in museums, libraries and other collections in Madrid and its surroundings. Presentations and discussions will take place in fromt of the objects themselves. This experience will help students to work with objects and to be aware of the material aspects of globalization, further from what is expressed in academic texts and articles. It is expected too that all will feel something of the fascination and intrigue experienced by contemporaries who saw these things for the first time.
Organizer: Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Place: Madrid, Spain
Date: September 2 – 12, 2019
Deadline: Jun 2, 2019