Spring 2018

  HA 190M | CCN: 39357

African Aesthetics

Ivy Mills

Mon. | Wed. | Fri. | 1:00 - 2:00pm

How should we approach the grotesque, the exaggerated, the imperfect, the improvisational, the unfinished, and the obscured in African art? Should we read “ugliness” as a sign of the “bad” - either as an intentional signaling of moral deviance, or as evidence of the artists’ lack of skill and taste? Or, are there other aesthetic criteria that might help us understand the power and appeal of works that appear to violate the principles of symmetry, coolness, and moderation that are privileged in many African artistic traditions? In this upper division lecture course, we will seek to complicate binary approaches to African aesthetics, examining the complex interrelationship between beauty and ugliness in some instances, and questioning the usefulness of these very categories in others.

This course fulfills the following Major requirements: Geographical area (D) and Chronological period (III), based on the topic of the final research paper or project.  

*This course will not meet for discussion sections.