ARTH 308
African Art and the Western Museum
Last Offered Spring 2023
Division I Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed AFR 369
This course is not offered in the current catalog

Class Details

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 current 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. Further, students will explore how the dialogues created between objects, individuals, and space often speak to the voices and agendas that collide, collaborate, and even compete with each other within the environment of the museum.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 3537
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Targeted bi-monthly writing assignments (3-5 pages in length) and bi-monthly peer response paper (1 page in length)
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Art History and African Studies Majors
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ARTH 308 Division I AFR 369 Division II
WS Notes: Targeted bi-monthly writing assignments (3-5 pages in length) and bi-monthly peer response paper (1 page in length). Students can expect to receive timely comments on their writing skills, with suggestions for improvement from the instructor.
DPE Notes: This course explores issues of agency, authenticity, and appropriation 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 will analyze how the meaning of "African art" has been largely dictated by a Western museum culture and how this hegemony is currently being disrupted through strategic exhibition and display practices and narratives.

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