This course surveys history of African American art during the long 20th-century, from the individual striving of late 19th century to the unprecedented efflorescence of art and culture in 1920s Harlem; from the retrenchment in black artistic production during the era of the Great Depression, to the rise of racially conscious art inspired by the Civil Rights Movement; from black feminist art in the 1970s, to the age of American multiculturalism in the 1980s and 1990s; and finally to the turn of the present century when ambitious "postblack" artists challenge received notions of black art and racial subjectivity.
Who decided which first names are deemed "difficult to pronounce?" Why are the words "fear," "ignorance," "belief," and "guilt" used to normalize racism? Why do history textbooks avoid the use of the word "genocide" when addressing Atlantic slavery? This course explores the recent intellectual history of the role of naming and coded language in institutional anti-Blackness. Each class will analyze how structures of power have intentionally erased their histories and contemporary acts of racial oppression through linguistic and epistemic control, while also paying close attention to the language of resistance in Black activism.
This course will explore the history of human subjects research as a scientific practice and how practitioners interpreted the use of living and dead bodies for producing scientific knowledge. It examines how and why certain bodies become eligible for research and experimentation. This course will show how race, class, gender, and disability shape the history of human subjects research, and show how human subjects were also deliberately selected from vulnerable populations. It will focus on the experiences of African Americans as research subjects, and consider other vulnerable populations such as children, the disabled, and the incarcerated.
Why are some events from the past widely recalled, memorialized, and taught in school, while others are consigned to obscurity? What role do acts of historical erasure play in processes of exclusion? How have acts of remembering figured in struggles for justice? Using historical scholarship, memoirs, visual art, and music, this course examines the relationship between "history" and "memory", focusing on the different ways that race and social power have shaped the relationship in the U.S. and across the African diaspora. We will link representations of the past to debate about issues such as public monuments, legal redress, and reparations.
How do we grapple with complicated, violent, and disavowed aspects of our collective histories in contemporary society? This class takes as its central issue how societies chose (or not) to reckon with, redress, and repair their difficult pasts. This course will challenge students to take on the difficult work of grappling with violent and otherwise negative pasts through the cultural media of memorial, monument, museum, and collaborative heritage practice. See "Other Information" below about a possible Break Trip to a memorial to the victims of racial terrorism in the U.S. South, located in Montgomery, Alabama.
This course examines the role and status of photography in different phases of Africa's political, cultural and art historical experience since 1945. We explore how African photographers used the photographic medium in the service of the state, society and their own artistic visions during the colonial and post-independence eras. Photography's relationship with art and its social function in Africa will underlie our discussion.
This seminar proceeds through a series of thematic and case studies ranging from Britain's early colonial expansion to the legacies of empire in contemporary art and museum practice. Topics include science and ethnography; the colonial picturesque; curiosity and collecting; slavery and visual representation; art and nationalism and readings are drawn from a range of disciplines.
This course explores questions and practices of liberation in writings by women philosophers and poets whose work helped to create cultural and political movements in the U.S. and Latin America. Starting in the 60s, we will study a poetics and politics of liberation, paying special attention to the role played by language and imagination when ideas translate onto social movements related to social justice, structural violence, education, care, and the commons. Readings include Gloria Anzaldúa, Angela Davis, Silvia Federici, Diamela Eltit, Audre Lorde, Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, Gayatri Spivak, Zapatistas, among others.
This course traces histories, traditions and innovations in Black American dance through archival and embodied practice. Moving from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to the 1970s, we will explore how dance - when executed by those who identify as Black and when circulated outside/beyond/without Black people themselves - speaks to the body's relationship to the political, social, and cultural contexts of American life. Through a hybrid seminar/studio seminar format, students will be introduced to theories, debates, and critical frameworks in Black Dance. We'll wrestle with the complexities around researching, doing, and reading Black Dance.
The readings and discussions will consider how the literature and arts of Haiti affirm, contest, and bear witness to historical narratives concerning the world's first black republic. The course will sample an array of historical accounts, novels, Afro-Caribbean religion (Vodun), plays, music, film, and visual arts of this unique postcolonial nation.
This readings course considers the dispersals, political movements, cultural production, social bonds, and intellectual labors that together have constituted and continually re-configured the modern African diaspora, from the emergence and collapse of the Atlantic slave system through the late twentieth century. The course tracks the evolution of diaspora as an idea and analytical framework, highlighting its intersections with concepts of Pan-Africanism, black nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and citizenship.
This course examines various political controversies that surround the role of race and ethnicity in American society. These controversies and issues affect public opinion, political institutions, political behavior, and salient public policy debates. Thus this course will assess and evaluate the role of race in each of these domains while also examining historical antecedents. The first half of the course will focus on historical antecedents such as the civil rights movement and the Black Power movement. The second half of the course will focus on the role of race in the 2008-2020 presidential elections.
This course is designed to explore the possession experiences in Caribbean Religions. Through historical, ethnographic, autobiographical, literary and visual texts this course examines complex, gendered practices within the possession process, the vibrant spiritual energy that sustains communal connections during religious ceremonies, and the transnational imaginations that animate Caribbean religious practices in the Americas. Special attention will be given to Santeria, Candomble, Vodou, Myal, Palo Monte, and Revival Zion in the Americas.
Widening inequality is a key challenge of the 21st Century. This course introduces students to the sociological study of inequality and stratification, motivated by the question of how disparities of wealth, income, and life chances have variously grown, shrunk, and transformed in the United States during recent decades. Distributional inequality and race/class /gender gaps will be examined amid changing systems of education, work and labor markets, housing, healthcare, wealth/financial security, and criminal justice/policing.
Theater artists routinely bend, twist and break all kinds of rules to create the imaginary worlds they bring to life on stage. Why, then, has the American theater so struggled to meaningfully address questions of equity, diversity and inclusion? In this course, we undertake a critical, creative and historical overview of agitation and advocacy by theater artist-activists aiming to transform American theatre-making as both industry and creative practice, as we connect those histories with the practices, structures and events determining the ways diversity is (and is not) a guiding principle of contemporary American theater.
The South African Anti-Apartheid movement saw mass resistance against the government's racial segregationist policies. Students will learn about the conditions that gave rise to Apartheid and the Anti-Apartheid movement, taking a look at the instrumental role that the performing arts and protest theatre played in dismantling the unjust system. Participants will develop performance work of their own based in South African protest theatre, encouraging a rejection of excess and on seeing obstacles as opportunities. Students will craft original protest theatre works that address sociopolitical concerns of their choosing.
How can posthumous research on a curatorial subject influence the structure and form of an exhibition or a new conceptual artwork? This course retraces the steps taken to produce McClodden's 2015-2019 artistic and curatorial work centering the lives of three Black gay men - poet Essex Hemphill, writer/poet Brad Johnson, and composer Julius Eastman - in order to examine key concepts central to research-based practice. Students will be expected to produce a research/exhibition study of an artist whom they feel has been obscured posthumously.