WesMaps - Wesleyan University Catalog 2023-2024       Summer Session       Winter Session       Home       Archive       Search
Memorials, African Art, and the Burden of Remembering

ARHA 267
Fall 2023
Section: 01  
Course Cluster and Certificates: African Studies, African Studies Minor

Throughout history, Africans have preserved the memory of their loved ones through words chanted in songs such as Yoruba Oriki; images rendered in wood, concrete, and metal; and other means. This course explores the multitude of ways in which Africans have memorialized their dead from the 9th century BCE to the present. In Western commemorative paradigms individuals have written poems, books, or essays, produced paintings and sculptures, taken photographs, and recorded videos. In Africa, comparable modes of preserving the memory of the dead have included sculpted ancestral figures, memorial effigies, and potent power objects. For instance, the memory of the ninety-eight king of the Kuba people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (who was believed to have reigned during the solar eclipse of 1680) was preserved in the sculpture of Shamba Bolongongo, while a mask named mwaash a mbooy memorialized the son of Woot, the iconic ancestor who married his sister, Ngaady a mwaash and founded the ruling Kuba dynasty. In Luba society, visual memory devices such as lukasa have been deployed to trigger memories of past heroes and their exploits during a ritual ceremony known as Mbudye. In Yoruba society, Ibeji figures have preserved the memory of the late twins, while Dogon sculptures have been used to embody the soul of the deceased. Through weekly readings and lectures, this course will examine these commemorative objects by focusing on their formal qualities and thematic usage in African art over the centuries.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA ART
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (AFST-MN)(ARHA-MN)(ARHA)(ARST)
Past Enrollment Probability: 90% or above

Last Updated on JUN-24-2024
Contact wesmaps@wesleyan.edu to submit comments or suggestions. Please include a url, course title, faculty name or other page reference in your email ? Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, 06459