2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
    May 24, 2024  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

ART 0332 - The Art History of The Black Body

Credits: 3

This course seeks to address areas of significant visual history that are largely left unearthed within the discipline of Art History: namely, the visual politics surrounding the black body in Western art and representation. Our study reaches into the murky history of black representation during the period of “European Enlightenment,” but also engages the intersections of the biological and social sciences with anthropological studies during the colonial era, which left the African continent divided up as property of various European entities, but also placed the black body in an uncomfortable state of “investigation”⁠-a state that winds up defining the survivors of the Atlantic Slave Trade into the American cultural space.

From the famous “scientific” slave daguerreotypes of Harvard’s own Louis Agassiz, to children’s literature depicting black kids being devoured by large animals, to the horrific recordings of torture, mutilations, and slayings of black people into postcards for the marketplace, with the assistance of the students, this course seeks to arrive at a set of unique and useful questions about Europe’s and America’s historic visual history and representations of the black body.