African and African American Visual and Material Culture

Due in part to curatorial efforts and public interest, African, African-American, and Black Diaspora visual and material culture have garnered renewed academic interest and currency. This course studies the longstanding and largely unheralded story about the cultural production of visual and material culture within the context of late nineteenth- and twentieth-century African, African-American, and Black Diaspora history. Students will explore a range of visual media, including photography, painting, sculpture, and multi-media art in addition to the professional biographies and trajectories of selected artists, the material and historical contexts artists worked and exhibited, modes of art education and art criticism, and the ways in which studied forms of cultural production enter into global circulation. The contemporary moment offers new opportunities to reflect on longstanding yet often marginalized historical and social practices of art making and viewing in Africa, the Americas, and the Black Diaspora, including (but not limited to) the material contexts and socio-political conditions under which artists organize themselves in order to represent and shape the course of history; how people make use of visual and material culture in moments of political, economic, and social uncertainty; and, how artists and curators alike (re)-create these histories of representation and use in galleries, biennales, and museums through varied modes of display. This course will introduce students to the conceptual and methodological developments of the discipline of African, African-American, and the Black Diaspora visual and material culture. Key themes include the role of visual and material culture in shaping historical knowledge and the representation of Africa and the Black Diaspora and the politics and histories associated with exhibiting the visual and material objects studied. Students will leave with an enhanced knowledge of the field’s origins and evolution as well of the field’s major artists, writers, and their respective creative projects. 3 Credits. Satisfies the non-Western requirement.