Art 110 Fall 2011: Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Assignment—NOVEMBER 2The Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is perhaps Mexico’s most identifiable holiday,but it is also a celebration that has ties to a long-standing Christian tradition of veneratingthe dead on November 2. It can also be compared to pagan ancestor worship rites fromwhich the Christian practice probably derived, and likewise has parallels in many othercultures which are practiced to this day. Because our class this year is scheduled to meeton November 2, I have decided to cancel our classroom meeting for that day, and insteadgive you an assignment based on the Dia de los Muertos.Before I explain the assignment, let me please make clear that I do not want this to besome boring and painful task—my intentions are to use the Dia de los Muertos as anopportunity to expand our cultural awareness and see the many ties that exist betweendifferent societies, so I want this to be, if not fun, at least interesting. I am asking you toturn in a paper, but you don’t have to treat it as an extra term paper. A couple of pageswill suffice; what I want is for you to simply understand and interpret this holiday.The assignment: First, I would like you to read an essay which I have put online—youcan find it on Blackboard under “Day of the Dead Essay.” Second, I would ideally likefor you to attend some kind of Dia de los Muertos event. This is why I have canceled ourregular classroom meeting for November 2. Obviously, we do not have the facilities orthe organizational capacity to go to an event as a group field trip, but I am hoping youwill go on your own. Olvera St. in Downtown LA will definitely have an event, but manyother places will as well—in the past I believe they have even had them sometimes hereat the school. I will put together some kind of list which I will pass out to the class beforeNovember 2. Third, I would like you turn in to me a paper—as I previously said, it doesnot have to be long, maybe two or three pages. In this paper, I simply want you to givesome kind of synopsis from the online essay about the history and traditions of the Dia delos Muertos, talk about the event you went to and what you saw that carries on thesetraditions (or did you also see things which you think are unique or new?), and makesome kind of comparison between the Dia de los Muertos and the veneration of the deadin certain ancient cultures—in our class lecture the meeting beforehand (October 31), Iwill give specific examples of rites for venerating the dead in Rome and other cultures,and you can use these as examples.Due date: Our next scheduled class is in fact our take home exam (Exam 2), so just turnthis in when you turn in your take home exam—this would be on November 9.Credit: I will give you up to 20 points (that is two letter grades on an exam, by the way)for doing this.Two inevitable questions:I do not have the time or transportation to be able to go to a Dia de los Muertos event onthat day, what should I do? Obviously I must be understanding of that kind of issue. I dosincerely want you to go to an event, that is why I canceled our class meeting, but Icertainly would never demand you do anything that is outside of your ability. If you
cannot go on November 2, there are other events you might be able to attend on differentdates—the largest Dia de los Muertos event in Los Angeles at the Hollywood ForeverCemetery, and they do not hold it on Nov. 2 (I believe that this year it will be on October22, but I will double check that date and others that are occurring before November 2). Ifyou cannot attend an event on an alternate date, you could try looking at websites aboutthe Dia de los Muertos, you will find many photographs and probably also videos. Butreally, I hope you can make it to some kind of event, because I would prefer this besomething you experience—but I won’t certainly won’t penalize you if you can’t.You said that you are going to talk about some related practices in Ancient Rome andother cultures in the class meeting before November 2 (which would be our October 31class). I couldn’t make it to that class—what should I do? Missing class is always anunfortunate thing. If you cannot make it to the class on October 31, I suggest you asksomeone else in the class if you can borrow their notes. Some of what we talk about willalso be posted online in the ppt review, but of course there is no complete substitute formissing a class. In this case, since you might be missing information which would helpyou with this paper, if you cannot come to class I would suggest that you do some of yourown research on ancestor worship practices in other cultures—it won’t be hard, crossreference ancestor worship with Ancient Rome, Egypt, or any other culture, and I amsure you will come up with some of the same information which I will present in thelecture.