Visual Culture Final Project KNW 2399 Jan Term

Visual Culture Final Project
KNW 2399

Jan Term


The Project: For your final project, you’ll be curating a digital exhibit of photographs from the digital collection at DeGolyer Library. We will be using visual culture (photographs) to make connections and comparisons between India and Mexico. You are expected to choose photographs that you can analyze in order to draw on themes related to colonialism that we have addressed in class. Think of this as creating a digital museum exhibit, which you will then present to the class.


Components of the Project:


  • Visit to DeGolyer Library: On Thursday, January 7, we will be visiting DeGolyer Library to see many of the photographs in the collections as well as the digitization process. Use this opportunity to ask questions of the librarians about both the photograph collections and the digitization of the photographs.


  • Visual Culture Worksheets: To get you started on the project, you will fill out two visual culture worksheets: one for a photograph from India and one for a photograph from Mexico. This exercise should help you develop ideas about themes for your final projects. This portion of the project will be worth 20% of your final project grade.


  • Creating a Digital Exhibit: Using our class WordPress site, you will upload the two photographs from each collection (four photographs in total) that you have used to address a specific theme. Based on the theme you have chosen that connects your four photographs, you will write a 500 words about the theme and how the four photographs you have selected. Visual culture and connections between India and Mexico should be the focus of this project. Imagine this as a digital museum exhibit, and write for a general audience. You will need to use two outside sources, which you will cite parenthetically and list at the bottom of your web post. We will walk through how to upload your project on Monday, January 11. This portion of the project will be worth 50% of your final project grade.


  • In-Class Presentation: The final element of this project is an in-class presentation. During this 5-7 minute presentation, you’ll discuss the photographs you chose, the themes that connect them, and how that relates more broadly to themes of colonialism. This portion of the project will be worth 30% of your final project grade.


KNW 2399 Special Topics:

On the Edges of Empire: India and Mexico/American Southwest
Jan Term 2016


Course Description:

Spanning the globe from the Americas to South Asia, this interdisciplinary course will examine the peripheries of empires. Rather than looking at the history of empires from the view of European powers (England and Spain), this course takes us to the places that were conquered in order to gain a broader understanding of how empire and colonialism worked, or failed to work, and ultimately what led these “edges of empires” to decolonize and gain independence (India and Mexico) – and, in the case of the American Southwest, become incorporated into another empire: the United States. This course provides an in-depth interdisciplinary study of the British colonization of India and the expansion of New Spain into the northern borderlands of present-day Mexico and the American Southwest. Using film/visual culture in addition to historical texts, we will explore common themes of colonial ideologies, class/caste and gender formations, legal and economic systems, emerging regional and national identities, religious cultures and other topics from the eighteenth century to present.


Benefits of this course:

  • Students will focus on visual culture (paintings, photographs, films) as a means to understand the history of empire in India and Mexico/American Southwest.
  • Students will experience a dynamic classroom experience composed of lectures, film screenings, guided discussions and in-class activities.
  • Students will examine comparisons and connections between India and Mexico/American Southwest.
  • We will ask poignant questions about how empires are formed, how they crumble, and how empire still exists in the world today.

Instructor Bios

Our Team: Professor Foley and Professor Ball-Phillips have team taught this course for two semesters. They began this course focused on the comparisons and connections between two places that had experienced colonization, and quickly found that though separated by oceans, language, and culture, there were striking similarities in the processes of empire building, resistance, and independence movements. With a fresh take on empire, and occasional humor, Professor Foley and Professor Ball-Phillips help students think about the questions of colonialism, empire, and what it means to live in a post-colonial world.

Rachel Ball-Phillips

Rachel Ball-Phillips joined the SMU History Department after she completed her Ph.D. in Indian History at Boston College. Her research on regional cinema in India has translated into a heavy emphasis on film and visual culture in her classroom. Professor Ball-Phillips spent several years in India for language training and research, and enjoys bringing those experiences into the classroom.

Neil Foley, Professor and Robert and Nancy Dedman Chair in History, teaches courses on 19th– and 20th-century U.S. history, the American Southwest, U.S.-Mexico borderlands, and comparative civil rights history. He lived abroad for six years in Mexico (Mexico City), Germany (Berlin, Heidelberg, Stuttgart), Spain (Salamanca, Zaragosa), and Japan (Misawa; Naha, Okinawa), and two years living on aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean Sea where he taught sailors of the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet. Before coming to SMU in the fall 2012, he taught at the University of Texas, Austin, for twenty years.

Student Learning Outcomes (University Curriculum)

Foundations (Ways of Knowing)

  • Students will be able to demonstrate a knowledge of more than one disciplinary practice.
  • Students will be able to explain how bringing more than one practice to an examination of the course topic contributes to knowing about that topic.

Proficiencies and Experiences (Global Engagement)

  • Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the material culture, underlying values, beliefs or practices that are central to the culture(s) being visited or studied.

Required Readings:

All texts are available to students on Blackboard. Students should come to the first class of each unit having read the assigned reading. We will draw from these texts for class discussion.


In-Class Blog posts (500 words each) – 25%
Film Analysis– 20%
Visual Culture Project – 30%
Participation/In-Class Activities – 25%

Course Components:

Blog Posts – (500 words each) – This class will be broken into five units. Each unit will cover one morning class on India and one afternoon class on Mexico/American Southwest. You will be given time to write each blog post for units 2-5 in class. That is a total of 4 blog posts. It is critical that you come to class having done the readings so that you can fully utilize your in-class writing time. If you are unable to finish in class, you may complete it before the next class. Each blog post should draw on all the assigned readings for that unit, as well as lectures and discussions. We will provide a list of questions for you to think about while you are going through that unit’s materials. Your blog post does not need to address all of these questions, but instead these will guide you to the important themes of the unit. In your blog post, you should cite readings by using the author’s name and page number. Your blog posts should not simply summarize the texts or the lectures, but rather demonstrate your own intellectual and analytical engagement with the material.

Film Analysis– On Day 4, we will watch a film related to India and one related to Mexico. You will write a review of one of the films. This is not just a review of the film, but instead an opportunity for you to identify major themes in the film you can connect with other course materials related to colonialism. This is due at .

Visual Culture Project – As your final assessment, you will use photographs from the DeGolyer Digital Collections. You will create a presentation based on 2 photographs from India and 2 photographs from Mexico. Students will submit photograph analysis worksheets for 2 of their 4 photographs (one on India and one on Mexico) on . On , students will present their final visual culture projects to the class.

Attendance/Participation – Your participation grade will include attendance in class and participation in class discussions, as well as in-class activities that will be graded. You are required to have read and to be able to discuss all of the assigned readings. Failure to do so will negatively affect your participation grade. Readings should be done before class on the day they are listed.


Schedule of Classes

Day 1 (Monday, )

UNIT 1: The Early Years of Colonization

Morning: European Colonization of India
Afternoon: Spanish Conquest of the New World

Day 2 (Tuesday, )

UNIT 2: How Colonialism Works

* Durba Ghosh, “Who counts as ‘native’?: gender, race, and subjectivity in colonial India,” Journal of Colonial History. 6:3 (2005)
* Neil Foley, “Genesis of Mexican America”

Morning: Economy, Race, and Gender in Indian Colonial Society
Afternoon: Exploration and Revolt in Spanish America

Day 3 (Wednesday, J) – 9:00am – Blog Post for Unit 2 Due

UNIT 3: Rebellion in India and Mexico

* Andrea Major, “ ‘The Hazards of Interference’: British Fears of Rebellion and Sati as a Potential Site of Conflict, 1829-1857,” in Mutiny at the Margins: New Perspectives on the Indian Uprising of 1857
* María Elena Martínez, “Changing Contours: ‘Limpieza de Sangre’ in the Age of Reason and Reform,” from Genealogical Fictions

Morning: Social Intervention and the Great Rebellion
Afternoon: Casta Paintings/End of Spanish Rule in Mexico

Day 4 (Thursday, ) – 9:00am – Blog Post for Unit 3 Due

VISUALIZING EMPIRE: Digital Archives and Visual Analysis

* Christopher Pinney “The Material and Visual Culture of British India,” in India and the British Empire

Morning: Visit DeGolyer Library/Discuss Final Project Presentation
Watch Water
Afternoon: Watch Like Water for Chocolate


Day 5 (Friday, ) – 9:00am – Film Analysis (3 pages, double spaced, 12 point font) due

UNIT 4: Indian Nationalism

Morning: Rise of Nationalism in India
Afternoon: Watch and discuss Gandhi


Day 6 (Monday, )

UNIT 4 (continued): Anglo-American Expansion and Texas Revolts – 9:00am -Photograph Analysis Worksheets Due

Reading: John Chavez, chapter 3: “The Mexican Far North,” in The Lost Land: The Chicano Image of the Southwest, online ebook at Fondren Library:

Morning: Curating Digital Archives – Creating a Visual Culture Project
Afternoon: Anglo-American Expansion into the Northern Frontier/Texas revolt from Mexico/Annexation of Texas/War with Mexico


Day 7 (Tuesday, ) – 9:00am – Blog for Unit 4 Due

UNIT 5: The End of Empire (?)

Reading: Foley, chapter 2: “No Estás en tu Casa,” from Mexicans in the Making of America
Sadat Hasan Manto, “Toba Tek Singh”

Morning: Partition and Independence in India
Afternoon: Resistance in the American Southwest/The Mexican Revolution


Day 8 (Wednesday, ) – Blog for Unit 5 Due

Morning: The Legacies of Colonialism in India and Mexico
Afternoon: Student Visual Culture Presentations




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