Fall 2022

Arts/Orature in Africa

Listed in: Art and the History of Art, as ARHA-138  |  Black Studies, as BLST-313


Rowland O. Abiodun (Section 01)


(Offered as BLST 313 [A] and ARHA 138) In the traditionally non-literate societies of Africa, verbal and visual arts constitute two systems of communication. The performance of verbal art and the display of visual art are governed by social and cultural rules. We will examine the epistemological process of understanding cultural symbols, of visualizing narratives, or proverbs, and of verbalizing sculptures or designs. Focusing on the Yoruba people of West Africa, the course will attempt to interpret the language of their verbal and visual arts and their interrelations in terms of cultural cosmologies, artistic performances, and historical changes in perception and meaning. We will explore new perspectives in the critical analysis of African verbal and visual arts, and their interdependence as they support each other through mutual references and allusions. In addition to visiting the Mead Art Museum to see African works, students will be required to listen to audio-recordings and engage selected visual images to enhance their understanding of the interrelationship of arts in Africa.

Fall semester. Professor Abiodun.

How to handle overenrollment: null

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: emphasis on written work, readings, independent research, oral presentations, visual analysis, museum visits

BLST 313 - LEC

Section 01
M 12:30 PM - 1:50 PM COOP 101
W 12:30 PM - 1:50 PM COOP 101

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
Yoruba Art and Language: Seeking the African in African Art Cambridge University Press, 2014 Abiodun, Rowland Amherst Books TBD
The Yoruba Arts Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994 Abiodun, Rowland; Drewal, Henry and Pemberton, John III Amherst Books TBD
Osun across the Waters: A Yoruba Goddess in Africa and the Americas Indiana University Press, 2001 Murphy, Joseph M. and Mei-Mei Sanford Amherst Books TBD
A Short Guide to Writing about Art Harper Collins, New York, 2010 Sylvan, Barnet Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022