Header image for the course page

Courses

discover your next favorite class

Spectacular Blackness: Race, Gender, and Visual Culture

African And African-american Studies 393 - Spring 2019

Discourse about African American identity has been indelibly shaped by the nexus of language and visual representations that configure blackness as a deviant other to the West and U.S. citizenship. From racist caricature in travel narratives and pro-slavery tracts, to contemporary representations of "welfare queens" and "thugs," visual representations serve as allegedly transparent, and objective, examples of the perpetual and inevitable failure of people of African descent to be human. To combat these representations, many photographers, visual artists, and film and television producers have attempted to challenge and subvert this history of visual imperialism. Combatting this imperialism requires untangling the web of raced and gendered representations shaping what Patricia Hill Collins has called "controlling images" of African Americans-images such as Mammy, the pickaninny, Sapphire, Jezebel, the Welfare Queen, Coon, Sambo, Thug, and Man on the Down Low. At the same time, even discourses of respectability and "good" blackness can contribute to hegemony. In this course, we'll begin with representations of the slave in the 19th century and end with representations of (an always) gendered blackness in social media in order to explore the ways in which African American male and female identities have been shaped and resisted in visual culture.
Course Attributes: FA AHEN HBU BAAS HUMAS SD IGF AHFA HUMAR HUMAH MEAAS SCFA VCFA CPSC

Section 01

Spectacular Blackness: Race, Gender, and Visual Culture
INSTRUCTOR: Wanzo
View Course Listing