Creative Impulse in New Mexico
Seminar - UHON 401

Instructor(s): Leslie Donovan

Course Description

From its enchanting landscapes to our vivid cultural traditions, New Mexico captivates and inspires the imaginations of artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, dancers, and other creative workers. Since our explorations of creativity will be rooted in the study of place, we will examine works primarily by creative workers who currently live here or works displayed in public spaces as a means for understanding the myriad ways creativity informs contemporary life in our state as well as its influence in New Mexico’s future.  

Using interdisciplinary approaches and methods, we will develop not only shared tools for discussing individual creative works by New Mexicans, but also about how we perceive the creative process itself, the nature of creativity, and the role creativity plays in social and global change. Among other topics, we will explore perspectives on creativity in New Mexico that reflect social and cultural history, our landscapes and human involvement in them, technological developments in publishing, archival study of original manuscripts, the psychology of creative will and process, business practices involved in selling creative works, aesthetics of illustrative and abstract visual art, among others. 

Much of our course will be grounded in experiential learning such as field trips to campus art galleries and museums, visiting public art at UNM campus, attending readings and performances, and engaging in discussions with artists and writers. In addition, students will conduct original, archival research on a New Mexico creative worker in the Center for Southwest Research collections. This course will be of interest not only to students who want to enhance their appreciation of creative expression in a variety of media, but also to students who aspire to be creative workers themselves. 


Anne Hillerman, The Sacred Bridge 

Amaris Ketcham, Poetic Inventory of the Sandia Mountains 

Gabriel Meléndez, The Book of Archives and Other Stories from the Mora Valley, New Mexico 

Anna Nogar, Sisters in Blue/Hermanas de azul 

Margaret Randall, My Life in 100 Objects 

Rebecca Roanhorse, Race to the Sun 

Other online readings/videos will feature such topics as: V.B. Price’s “NM Culture and Arts”; the Muros de Burque Project; flamenco dance; experimental music; guitar-making and heritage violins; Meow Wolf; NHCC’s Mundos de Mestizaje Fresco; and others 


1 archival research project,

2-3short analysis papers,

1 creative project,

1 video presentation,

weekly online discussion,

final portfolio (10-15 new pages, including a synthesis paper),

attendance and engaged participation. 

About the Instructor(s): Leslie Donovan

Leslie Donovan earned her B.A. in Creative Writing and completed the Honors Program at UNM. She went on to earn her M.A. in English literature, also from UNM, and then her Ph.D. in Medieval English Literature from the University of Washington. Her publications include studies of J.R.R. Tolkien, Beowulf, Anglo-Saxon women saints, and Honors teaching. She has earned multiple awards for outstanding teaching, including UNM’s Presidential Teaching Fellow award.