English 190

Research Seminar: The Art of Reconstruction


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2021 de Stefano, Jason
MW 9-10:30

Book List

Du Bois, W. E. B.: The Souls of Black Folk; Hurston, Zora Neale: Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”; Tourgée, Albion: A Fool's Errand

Other Readings and Media

Additional readings and other course materials will be provided on bCourses.

Description

This course will explore the role and legacy of art in the most important project of American self-creation since the nation’s founding: the post–Civil War era known as Reconstruction. The diverse group of writers, painters, sculptors, and other artists who collaborated with politicians, activists, and public figures in this project from around 1860 to 1890 sought to reconstitute the nation’s political community as a multiracial democracy that guaranteed representation to all. In the wake of slavery and civil war, they fought for the authority of African Americans as citizens of US government and as co-authors of the national experiment. The operative tropes of this transformation—collaboration, representation, authorship—carried their aesthetic valences alongside their political ones. Consequently, we will treat reconstruction not only as a historical period or phenomenon but also as an aesthetic and activist orientation. We will explore how the concept of reconstruction has persisted as an ideal of social justice and form of artistic praxis. As such, texts will range across genres and history, from the era of Reconstruction to today. We will read and view works by Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Zora Neale Hurston as well as by contemporary writers and artists like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ava DuVernay, and Arthur Jafa.

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No instructor assigned yet.

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