SMU-in-London: Arts 2013

Students in the SMU-in-London: Arts spend five weeks in the city, becoming 21st-century explorers while taking two courses. Associate Theatre Professor Gretchen Smith in the Meadows School of the Arts teaches London theatre history from the era of Shakespeare to the present, while Dance Professor Shelley Berg teaches about London as a metropolis filled with myriad “performance” experiences – cultural, social, historical and political. The students have visited museums, palaces, food markets, theatres (for “formal performances” and backstage tours) and participated in multiple “scavenger hunts,” and walked and walked and walked!

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British Museum Scavenger Hunt

An update from Lexi on some of her discoveries during the class scavenger hunt at the British Museum:

lexi11. Elgin Marbles as “metonyms” for the Parthenon:

This picture left of one of the remnants can be seen as a metonym for the people’s observance of rituals and for the importance of ceremonies. In this sculpture, the women are carrying incense for sacrifices, showing their respect and admiration for the Greek gods as they pay homage to them.lexi2

This depiction right can be seen as a metonym for the valor and bravery of men in combat. It could also symbolize the superiority of men (such as defeating beasts or figures of “the Other”), and it shows how the Greeks valued strength and power.

2. Objects from the “World of Sutton Hoo”

lexi3Everyday object: “This iron lamp formed by a round bowl on a tripped foot was found in the burial. It is now corroded but still contains remains of beeswax. No trace of a wick survived.”lexi4

Ritual/ceremonial object: “This rare and unusual axe-hammer would have been a formidable weapon, but recently scholars have suggested that it might also have had a ceremonial use. Similar long-handled axes were probably used to slaughter sacrificial animals.”

lexi53. Defaced Suffragette Penny of 1903: The year that this penny was defaced is significant because it is the year when the Women’s Social and Political Union was founded. The members were later nicknamed suffragettes, but the establishment of this union marked a change in tactics by female campaigners to more extreme measures of civil disobedience.

4. Sevres Porcelain of Pygmalion and Galatea: Pygmalion and Galatea are two figures in classical Greek mythology. Pygmalion was a sculptor who had given up on finding a woman and vowed to never be hurt by one again. He saw them as “flawed” creatures. Thus, he created a sculpture of the perfect woman, which he named Galatea. Ironically, he ended up falling in love with Galatea. When Aphrodite (goddess of love) saw Pygmalion’s unconditional and pure love for Galatea, Aphrodite brought Galatea to life. The Pygmalion fell in love and were wed. lexi6

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