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African History and Art

ARHA 299
Spring 2018 not offered
Crosslisting: FIST 299, AFAM 299
Certificates: Muslim Studies
Course Cluster: African Studies, African Studies Minor

This course traces the art and cultural history of selected West African societies from the 12th century to the early 20th century. Each week we will focus on a single work of art, as that work illuminates social and cultural history. The objects will include royal bronze sculpture from the Kingdom of Benin (16th century); a carved ivory vessel from Guinée or Sierra Leone (16th century); a horned initiation mask made of woven fiber from Senegal (19th century); and a map of the Sahara made in Spain by a Jewish artist in 1375. Each object sheds light on the history, religion, and culture of the region from which it comes.

The trans-Saharan trade was crucial to both North and West Africa. From Morocco came the Muslim religion, as well as Islamic architecture. In 1445 Portuguese mariners arrived on the Atlantic coast of West Africa. From that moment on, West Africa has been part of a global economy. Already by 1500, the growth of Creole Euro-African communities is reflected in artwork.

"Art" is best understood in the specific historical context and the culture in which it develops. To us, removed in space and in time from these African societies, architecture, sculpture, and ritual performance help to illuminate the lives of the people we are studying. Ultimately, we will consider such questions as, Does African art exist? What is "African art"? Who defines art--Africans or Westerners?
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA ART
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (AFAM-MN)(AFAM)(AFST-MN)(ARHA-MN)(ARHA)(ARST)(FRST-MN)(FRST)(MUST-MN)(RMST)

Last Updated on JUL-21-2024
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