Course Descriptions & Syllabi

509 African Art and Architecture

Methodology is challenging no matter what specialization you choose.  In this course I will use the arts of specific African cultures to create a series of thought experiments that highlight the problems and contributions of varying methodological approaches to art objects.  We will contrast methodologies used in African Art History with those used for studying Western arts, trying to see where approaches to the material overlap and where they are different. We will also contrast the contemporary use of African imagery by African, Black American and white artists with the original forms of the traditions used and examine whether we need a special methodology to deal with these cross-Atlantic influences.

Each week and each lecture will focus on a specific theme as well as a specific African culture. We will begin by examining accounts of fieldwork, and then move to the arts of the Guinea coast and progress from northwest to southeast along the west coast of Africa to Central Africa.