Visual Arts and Orature in Africa

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

Moodle site: Course (Login required)

Faculty: Rowland O. Abiodun

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  • Reference Universe
    Searchable index of the library's entire reference collection, both print and electronic.
  • Oxford Art Online
    Oxford Art Online is the access point for Grove Art Online, and other Oxford art reference works covering all forms of the visual arts: painting, sculpture, architecture, graphic and decorative arts, and photography from prehistory to the present.
  • Grove Encyclopedia of Materials and Techniques in Art
    Provides information on a wide range of current and historical materials and techniques in both traditional and nontraditional media.
  • Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    Timeline which connects the Metropolitan's collections to chronologies, and contextual essays.
 Print Reference:

A Brief History of Art: with special reference to West Africa / E.V. Asihene.  N7398 .A798 2004
African Art: a bibliographic guide / Janet L. Stanley.  Frost Reference N7380 .S77 1985
Key Events in African history: a reference guide / Toyin Falola.  Frost Reference DT20 .F35 2002
The Visual Arts of Africa: gender, power, and life cycle rituals / Judith Perani ; Fred T. Smith.  (At Smith and UMass — request through Five College Catalog)
Icons: Ideals and Power in the Art of Africa / Herbert M. Cole.  x N7391.65 .C63 1989
LinkAfrican Religions: A very short introduction / Jacob K. Olupona  BL2400 .O48 2014Library Info


    Full-text backfiles of over two thousand leading academic journals across the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. (Alumni access)
  • BHA: Bibliography of the History of Art (1973 to present)
    Bilingual database on the history of post-classical western art. Also includes RAA (Repertoire d'Art et d'Archeologie) from 1973 to 1989 and RILA (International Repertory of the Literature of Art) from 1975 to 1989.
  • International Bibliography of Art (IBA) (1973 to present)
    Covers scholarly literature on western art including traditional visual arts as well as new media, architectural history, museum studies and conservation, archaeology, and classical studies.
  • Africa Knowledge Project (1999-Present)
    Africa Knowledge Project, known as AKP, promotes Critical African Studies. It disseminates Africa-centered, evidence-based knowledge on Africa and African Diaspora.
  • AllAfrica
    Content from newspapers, news agencies and publications from the African continent.
  • Black Studies Center (25,000 BC to present)
    Black Studies Center is a tool that supports research, teaching, and learning in Black Studies covering aspects of the black experience such as history, literature, political science, sociology, philosophy, and religion.
  • Project Muse
    Online database of more than 200 journals from nonprofit publishers. (Alumni access)

Images & Primary Sources

Image databases and museum collections online:

Overview & Tips

Class Slides: 
Subject headings to search in Five College Catalog:

Art, African
Aesthetics, African
LinkSculpture, African
Masks, Africa
Bronzes, African
Benin (Kingdom)
Symbolism in Art
Decorative Arts
Decoration and ornament -- Africa
Yoruba (African people) -- Folklore.
Signs and symbols -- Africa, Sub-Saharan
Ceremonial objects -- Africa, Sub-Saharan
Arts, Black -- Nigeria -- Exhibitions [insert relevant country]
Arts and society -- Africa, West [insert relevant country]
Art and religion -- Africa, Sub-Saharan [insert relevant country or region]
Igbo (African People) [insert relevant group]
Artists--nigeria--biography [insert relevant country]
Modernism (Art) -- Nigeria
LinkScarification (Body marking) -- Africa
LinkTattooing -- Africa
Body painting -- Africa
Art, African
Art, Yoruba
Art, Nigerian

Don't forget to use the subject headings from books you've already found!

Title Keywords to search in Five College Catalog to find reference texts:

bibliography                           atlas
dictionary                               encyclopedia
guide                                      history

A note on searching for exhibition catalogs:
Almost all Five College Library catalog records for exhibition catalogs contain the word "exhibitions," either as a subject term, or in the description. To find a catalog focused on a specific artist or topic, perform a keyword search that includes the artist's name (last name is often enough) or the topic word(s), and the word exhibition* (using the truncation symbol * searches for both the word exhibition and the subject term exhibitions). 

Helpful name and vocubulary resources:

Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT)
Union List of Artist Names (ULAN)
Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN)