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ARTD 3138/7138: Journey to Wakanda: African Art and Popular Culture: Home

Special Topics in Art History, Graduate Seminar (R6)

About: ARTD 7196G: A Journey to Wakanda

This seminar aims to channel the excitement and interest generated by the film Black Panther into a course that utilizes its themes, design elements, and costumes as a means to explore the art and culture of the African continent. This course will provide students with the tools to assess how African cultures are referenced and reimagined in the film, ultimately allowing them to assess if these allusions are informed and appropriate and how they shape our understanding of the film. The course begins by providing students with several theoretical frameworks for understanding the film and its use of African cultures, followed by an exploration of ancient and historical African empires that served as the inspiration for the mythological empire of Wakanda. The majority of the class focuses on specific characters, examining the actual culture practices and forms of dress that influenced their characterization, providing students with a more nuanced and informed understanding of African cultural practices. Students will examine a diverse range of visual art forms throughout the African continent, with an emphasis on textiles, dress and adornment. Most importantly, this course will encourage students to interrogate and question how African cultures are frequently referenced in American popular culture.