Special Topics:
Images of the Other in Africa and Europe, from ca. 1400 to Now
Th 10:00am - 1:00pm
210 Tappan
3 Credit Seminar

The goal of this course is to provide students with the technical and theoretical tools necessary to "read" images and texts that address cross-cultural context by following the evolution of the visual discourse developed by Africans regarding Europeans, and by Europeans vis-a-vis Africans through pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial times. Bringing together works of art and of literature from Africa and Europe we will analyze how political, economic, and ideological worldviews were constructed in words and images and how they evolved through time and in response to transformations in their intellectual and political contexts. The three time periods considered are 1) pre-colonial interactions between the fifteenth and eighteenth century, 2) nineteenth and twentieth century colonial imperialism, and 3) 1960 to the present post-colonial relationships. This diachronic approach will put in relief the historiography of the cross-cultural discourses of representation. Class discussion will explore how notions of otherness evolved on both European and African sides and how this change was expressed and promoted through strategic use of words and images, how visual and literary "texts" construct their message in a similar and/or different manner, and how and why humor -good and bad - plays a central role in the construction of difference. The material studied in the class includes selected African and European works of art such as Benin Bronzes, travelogue engravings, Loango Coast ivories, European colonial photographs, as well as works from contemporary art and visual culture such as paintings by Congolese painter Cheri Samba and selections from Western cinema and broadcast. In addition, literary descriptions drawn from novels, essays and (transcribed and translated) archival documents will raise both the well known and overlooked literary voices of African and European individuals involved in the encounters. Selected secondary literature will open avenue for discussion of critical ideas.

Estimated cost of materials: $50 or more, but less than $100.

B.D. 2,3,4