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ARTH 582
On Race, Art, and Property Fall 2020
Division I

Class Details

In her seminal article “Whiteness as Property,” critical race theorist and professor Cheryl Harris contends that the legal system in the United States “has come to embody and legitimize benefits that accrue to citizens who are white.” The legacy of our legal system, which has dehumanized people by rendering them as property and legalized the theft of land by colonizers from Native Americans, is not confined to the past, but has shaped our world and thrives within our present moment. How has this legacy and Harris’ theory been explored in contemporary art? How might it allow us to revisit artworks and practices by canonical artists from alternative perspectives? This course aims to study aspects of this complicated history through a broad range of texts from legal and literary theory to art history to Black and Native American studies to more immediately authored texts published on social media platforms. Students are encouraged to think dexterously as we study works by Gordon Matta-Clark, Michael Heizer, Sondra Perry, Cameron Rowland, and Cauleen Smith–among others.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 2951
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: presentations, writing assignments
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: If over-enrolled, by application
Distributions: Division I

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