ENHANCING LEARNING AND THE UNDERGRADUATE EXPERIENCE OF LATIN AMERICAN POPULAR CULTURE
Regional approaches to Latin American popular culture anchor ideas wherein written and visual narratives migrate from their points of origin toward new incarnations in later times and places. Ideas about political or social ‘revolution’ in early twentieth-century Mexico thus evoke movement from armed toward institutional mobilization; in mid-century Cuba refer to dynamics of local and national popular movements; and in late-century Nicaragua distinguish between political, participatory, and economic democracy. These broad strokes also inform this panel’s efforts to describe and interpret a century of hemispheric political and social dynamics using site-specific narrative imagery in North and Latin American art, photography, and film in two undergraduate courses: SPAN160C: Art and Politics in Latin America; and SPAN-160D: Issues in Latin American Popular Culture.
This course design structures practical applications of teaching and learning technologies into individual and group assignments that increase student technical and critical skills levels. This course development seeks politically-relevant art within webs of ideas in Latin America that currently inhabit the domain of regional culture in the U.S. Southwest. Processes of guiding undergraduates toward information and imagery in actual and virtual archives such as the University of Arizona Center for Creative Photography (CCP) and the University of New Mexico Center For Southwest Research (CSWR) has generated student-driven presentations whose outcomes refine evolving design parameters of class assignments.
This project uses narrative imagery in undergraduate coursework as active platforms of course design that culminate in new collaborative applications of class materials. Students thus use available/accessible/published/online multimedia sites to reconfigure ideas in art and culture by engaging online resources about Latin America and the U.S.-Mexico border region. Between 2007 and 2010, for example, small-group viewing sessions of Edward Weston in Mexico and Mikhail Kalatozov in Cuba expanded real-time access to a range of twentieth-century photographers and filmmakers that with online digital archives shifted specifically regional approaches toward actual, hemispheric, and virtual spheres. The presentation project, now the subject of this conference panel, currently explores how best to introduce, embed, and cultivate academic technology into course offerings, the effectiveness of which emerges in student presentation content, quality and technological fluency.