In this talk, Professor Coffey will place José Clemente Orozco’s The Epic of American Civilization (1932-34) at Dartmouth within debates over the American epic in the 1930s. In particular, she will demonstrate how Orozco deliberately counters the popularization of Manifest Destiny ideology through the structure and subject matter of his mural. By reading Orozco’s continental vision of the Americas as complementary to period attempts to reorient the frontier thesis of American history toward the Spanish borderlands, she argues that Orozco’s mural should be understood as a transnational artifact. Her talk will not only resituate Mexican muralism within U.S. American debates over history and identity, but also suggest the many ways Orozco’s Epic speaks to our contemporary political moment and the radical politics of Latinidad.
Originally published at artdept.nd.edu.