African Art and the Western Museum
Division II; Writing-Intensive; Difference, Power, and Equity;
Cross-listed as AFR369 / ARTH308
This tutorial provides a focused study of the issues associated with the exhibition of African objects within Western institutions from the formative period of the practice in the early 19th century to the modern era. Covering topics ranging from early collection and display methodologies to exhibition-based practice in the contemporary digital era, this tutorial will provide an opportunity for robust discussion about the interactions that have occurred between the arts of Africa and the Western museum over the lengthy history of their engagement. Students will investigate the nature of the cross-cultural dialogues taking place and the politics of display at work in regional museum spaces that display African art towards fleshing out how exhibitions function through the strategic organization and display of objects. In other words, students will explore how the dialogues created between objects and individuals often speak to the voices and agendas that collide, collaborate, and even compete with each other within the environment of the museum.
The Class: Type: tutorial
Requirements/Evaluation: field trips to area museums, targeted writing assignments 5-7 pages in length, and peer response papers (two of each type per month)
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: ARTH 104 or special permission from the instructor
Enrollment Preference: Art History and African Studies Majors
Distributions: Division II; Writing-Intensive; Difference, Power, and Equity;
Distribution Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under ARTH; meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under AFR DPE: Explores issues of 'authentic' representation as it applies to African artifacts displayed within the contexts of Western art museums. Through discussions of cultural capital, rights of seeing, and the politics of representation, students analyze how the meaning of African 'art' has been dictated by a Western museum culture and how one can disrupt this hegemony through strategic exhibition and display practices.