Reading and Writing about Visual Experience: African Bodies in Film, Art, and Fashion
In this course, we will explore the politicization of the African body in a variety of visual media, including film, photography, sculpture, and fashion. We will begin by examining how visual representations of the African body have worked to “other” the black subject. Naked, diseased, starving, deformed, and amputated bodies populate the Africa of the Western imaginary, continuing to inform global perceptions of the abject African incapable of joining the community of developed, civilized humans. We will historicize these representations and reveal their ideological underpinnings; we will then supplement this Western story with an analysis of alternative representations of the body by African artists, thus uncovering different politics and horizons of corporeal signification. As this is the second course in the Reading and Composition series, the syllabus also places an emphasis on the acquisition of the skills required for researching and writing a 10- to- 15 page undergraduate term paper.
Course materials include films by Mansour Sora Wade and Jean-Pierre Bekolo; photography by Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Seydou Keita, and Ousmane Ndiaye Dago; and critical works by John Berger, Sander Gilman, Kobena Mercer, Hudita Mustafa, and Oyeronke Oyewumi.