Teaching the "Long" Eighteenth Century: Collaborative, Community-Driven, and Student-Centered Approaches

Ananda Cohen-Aponte, Cornell University

We should think about who our students are generationally, particularly our undergraduate community, and how to continue adapting our teaching in ways that build on their strengths and engages us in dialogical, generative, and creative relationships.

Cohen-Aponte launched the pilot program "Pathways to Art History" to help ensure that more students of color enter into the arts and humanities. She recognized that Generation Z is not only more racially and ethnically diverse, but is also projected to be the most well-educated generation yet. That diversity in postsecondary education, however, is not reflected in the professoriate. The co-author of publications that address diversity and inclusion in Latin American and Latinx art history, Cohen-Aponte also wanted to address racial equity from the ground up at the high school and early undergraduate levels. She was particularly inspired by recent scholarship on pedagogy, including Bettina Love's We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom (2020); and by her engagement with online communities such as the "Decolonial and Anti-Racist Art Curriculum" Facebook group and the "Anti-Racist Art Educators" Facebook group.

In Spring 2019, Cohen-Aponte partnered with the Multicultural Resource Center, a nonprofit organization in Ithaca, NY, on a project for her undergraduate Latin American survey course at Cornell University. Students could choose from one of two tracks depending on their level of interest and schedules, with their work entailing either a paper and exam, or engagement with the community-driven component. Working closely with MRC staff on an ongoing project that explores Black and Indigenous resistance movements, "The Resistance Cannot be Stopped," Cohen-Aponte’s students created a poster focused on Latin American and Latinx art. Additional contributions included a YouTube Channel with interviews, an educational packet for high-school teachers, and online classroom activities.

Ananda Cohen-Aponte is Associate Professor of Art History at Cornell University. She is a scholar of the visual culture of colonial Latin America and the legacies of colonialism in contemporary Latinx art, and she was awarded the 2019 Robert A. and Donna B. Paul Academic Advising Award for her commitment to undergraduate teaching and advising.

Image credit: Miguel Cabrera, De Español e India, Mestiza, 18th Century, oil on canvas. Galería de Casta Mexicanas, Museo de Historia Mexicana.