This seminar explores the range of ideas and methods used by critical thinkers in addressing the body in photography, print, video, film and exhibition spaces. Central to our discussions will be a focus on how the presence of the black body affects how we see and interpret the world. Using a series of documentary films, invited guest speakers, and readings, we will consider the construction of beauty and style, gendered images, identity, race, black women activists as icons in music and popular culture. The historical gaze has profoundly determined the visual construction of black women in contemporary society such as figures like Angela Davis, Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Ida B. Wells, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and Beyonce. Historical images of injustices and protests during the 19th century and more recently during the BlackLivesMatter movement illuminate a long history of black peoples’ collective fight against racism. This course is designed with two objectives: to introduce students to the theory and practice of the field of black visual studies and to familiarize them with the work of activists, scholars and artists working in this area. The practice of black visual studies entails the critical evaluation of images in multiple realms of culture: migration, art, new media, activism, medical humanities, and politics. Another aim is to develop students’ critical thinking about exhibitions and to learn directly from leading practitioners in the field of modern and contemporary art. Students will investigate formal and conceptual components of images, as well as issues of image-reception and agency. The interplay between the historical and the contemporary, between self-presentation and imposed representation--all are fundamental to our discussions within a global landscape. As we explore these experiences through images, we will draw on a diverse range of texts, primary sources, and guest speakers in order to grapple with key questions.

This seminar explores how the trope of ?blackness? is medThis seminar explores how the trope of ?blackness? is mediated over a range of ideas, images, and expressions of social difference in cinema. Screenings and readings examine how popular cinema, ranging from black independence to the commercial ?mainstream,? deals not only with issues of race and color, but how these issues intersect, and interact, with other social categories of difference(s) mainly related to class, sexual orientation, and gender but including many others. The course explores such issues as seeing beyond the ?black-white binary? model of race relations; gendered perspectives on ?blackness? and black women?s filmmaking; the cultural and political dynamic between blackness and gayness on the screen; and issues of class, caste, and ?colorism? in cinema. The course also examines a number of ideas and theories related to the material, including passing, double consciousness, unmarked difference, and creolization.






Spring 2022

Michele Mitchell
T: 2:00 PM - 4:45 PM KJCC 701

Fall 2022

Deborah Willis
T: 2:00 PM - 4:45 PM 20CS 4SEM