Hannah Scherer '19 | March 31, 2019
Don’t get me wrong: I am a ride-or-die psychology major.
I’ve loved psychology since the days when the major’s intro class was the only thing getting me up on Friday mornings as a second-semester. I worship Freud (of course), I have classic psych-major stories of using stuffed animals to perform social experiments – truly, I eat, sleep and breathe the stuff.
But in the nature of going against my own, I think the coolest classes at Notre Dame might be those taught in the Department of American Studies.
In a University-wide “Cool Classes” series, I suppose it’s important to highlight all disciplines, from PLS to business analytics to chemical engineering. If it were up to me, though, I’d happily talk about AMST classes each and every month.
This month, I got my wish with AMST 30142, better known as Latino Muralism in Chicago. A new offering this semester from associate professor and 10-year department veteran Jason Ruiz, this course offers a new space in the American Studies curriculum for criticism and digital archiving of an art form that’s available to quite literally anyone: public muralism.
One major character in the development of this class is the Pilsen neighborhood, a lower west side community that houses a large swath of Chicago’s Latino population.
The neighborhood was once a haven for working-class German, Italian, Polish and Czech immigrants, whose architectural influences still pepper the area today. Infrastructure changes in the city in the 1960s led to an influx of Mexican immigrants to the neighborhood, and a number of other Latino groups have arrived since then. This cultural history has cemented Pilsen’s reputation as a port of entry for immigrants seeking their own and created a sociopolitical context ripe for public art and muralism.
Read more here.