Picturing Race in the Early Modern World


Many social and cultural roots of modern Western European and American conceptions of race and ethnicity lie in the early modern era, when enslavement came integrally to be linked with Blackness and conceptions-and representations-of power relied on a hierarchical politics of racialization and othering. Throughout the early modern era, in Renaissance and Baroque visual art, iterations of racialized identity took hold, in ways and by means this seminar will explore in depth. Through close analysis of paintings, sculptures, architectural and urban design, and the graphic arts, and with frequent reference to chronicles, literature, and legal language of the time, we will trace visual representations of racialized difference throughout the early modern (European) world and to the present. How did early modern European images participate in and help to form a visual culture of race? This seminar will explore fifteenth-, sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European representations of racialized others by artists Albrecht Dürer, Hans Burgkmair, Hieronymus Bosch, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, and others. We will also consider ethnographic imagery, maps, and other forms of representation-as well as responses by contemporary (20th- and 21st-century) artists to the conventions of "race-crafting" laid down in the early modern era. Geographically, the materials we study issue from western Europe and focus on encounters with Western Africa, but the seminar considers European engagement in the American colonies, Melanesia/Indonesia, the Atlantic and Brazil-and with the Islamic world. Prerequisites: One 300-level course in Art History or permission of the instructor
Course Attributes: AS HUM; AS LCD; AS SC; FA HUM; AR HUM; EN H; FA AH

Section 01

Picturing Race in the Early Modern World
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