Paraphrasing the late art historian Linda Schele, the written history of the Western Hemisphere did not begin in 1492, but in the records of Mesoamerica going back as far as the 1st century BCE, and flourishing during the 1st millennium AD within Maya civilization. While we can now read these hundreds of texts, it is a more complex problem to comprehend their local and contextual meanings. For one, the writing system departs substantively from 'Western' versions, and the languages recorded with it follow grammars that carry meaning in non-Indo-European ways. How then to access Maya civilization and its indigeneity in ways that don't simply privilege European-diasporic perspectives or purposes? Who owns the past, and how do we preserve and understand it? This course explores the Mayan hieroglyphic writing system as both visual art and writing, along with the context within which it emerged, and the uses to which it was put. No prior familiarity or prerequisites are necessary.
Coe, Michael D., Breaking the Maya Code Thames & Hudson
Coe, Michael D., and Stephen D. Houston The Maya Ninth Edition Thames and Hudson