HIST 454
Land, Memory, Materiality: Histories and Futures of Indigenous North American Arts Spring 2023
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed ARTH 561
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Class Details

This course engages Indigenous North American traditions of creative expression, remembrance, and representation in historical, contemporary, and future-facing ways. Drawing upon diverse Native American and First Nations theories and practices, it ranges widely across the continent to consider Indigenous arts and material culture within specific cultural, socioeconomic, and political contexts. Part of the course is grounded in the Native Northeast, including the Indigenous homelands of the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Community in which the Graduate Art Program and Williams College are situated. Other units will focus on continuities and transformations in artistic and maker-traditions within and across specific Indigenous nations and communities. The course is especially interested in connections between past and present, and the innovative ways Indigenous artists, makers, and knowledge-keepers have reckoned with what has come before, while also mapping meaningful future pathways. Topics will include repatriation and community-led restorative efforts to bring home ancestors and important heritage items “collected” over the centuries following 1492; concepts and practices of cultural, intellectual, visual, and political sovereignty; decolonizing museums; the complex dynamics of collaboration; Indigenous, African-American, and Afro-Indigenous artistic connections and solidarities; and Indigenous challenges to Eurocentric and settler colonial approaches to preservation, interpretation, and classification. Seminar members will develop familiarity with methods and ethics grounded in Native American and Indigenous Studies, and with new scholarship by leading and emerging critics and creators.
The Class: Format: seminar; The course will feature seminar discussions as well as local trips to museums, libraries, and archives with pertinent collections and exhibitions.
Limit: 16
Expected: 16
Class#: 3638
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Engaged participation in discussions; in-class presentations; short writing assignments in preparation for final project; final original research and interpretive project, with presentation to seminar.
Prerequisites: For undergraduates, at least two prior courses in or related to History, Art History, Native American and Indigenous Studies, and/or Museum Studies.
Enrollment Preferences: Priority for Graduate Art students. Four seats are reserved for undergraduates, with preference to junior and senior majors in Art History and History. Undergraduates should email a brief statement of interest to [email protected].
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
HIST 454 Division II ARTH 561 Division I
DPE Notes: The course centers theories, experiences, and expressions from Native American/Indigenous communities, scholars, and artists/makers, while engaging foundational and new work in Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS). The course also provides students with critical tools for reckoning with settler colonialism and its historical as well as enduring impacts in Indigenous contexts; and with race, ethnicity, sovereignty, and tribal nationhood as key interpretive frames.
Attributes: HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada

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