ART-226: African and Afro American Art

Liberal Arts
Art (art History)
Academic Level
Course Subject
Course Number
Course Title
African and Afro American Art
Credit Hours
Instructor Contact Hours Per Semester
47.00 (for 15-week classes)
Student Contact Hours Per Semester
47.00 (for 15-week classes)
Grading Method
ENG-081 eligible
Catalog Course Description

Provides a broad overview of the history of visual culture in different regions of continental Africa. Discusses different civilizations, which flourished in different parts of Africa from pre-historic time to the present. Offers study to native spiritual and ritualistic beliefs along with objects associated with and used in these various rituals and involved visual materials such as masks, helmets, costumes, weapons, body art, and other symbolic objects. Discusses African art in the Diaspora with focus on African artists in the Americas and the emerging African American art in North America. A field trip to a major museum is required.

Goals, Topics, and Objectives

Goal Statement

To develop an understanding of and appreciation for the different visual forms of African art and architecture as an important historic cultural region and its ramification on the development of African American art. To explore and comprehend the relationship between the artistic forms and objects produced for different spiritual rituals and different religious groups. To understand the interaction between visual materials, ritualistic performance, and architectural space in different traditional African societies. To understand the political interaction between the different phases of African cultures and their impact on the art of African artists in the Diaspora. To understand the formation and development of Modern African American art. 

Core Course Topics
  1. From the Nile to the Niger: The Sahara and the Maghrib; Lands of the Nile, Egypt, Nubia, and Ethiopia; The Central Sudan; Mande World and the Upper Niger; The Western Sudan
    • Identify and examine the history and development of African art and architecture through the chronological and geographical regions in Africa.
  2. Western Africa: West Atlantic Forests; Akan Worlds; The Yoruba and the Fon; The Lower Niger.
    • Analyze the artistic trends, styles, and mediums of the various forms of visual arts and architecture among the different traditional African sub-regions and periods.
  3. Central Africa: Crose River, Cameron Grassland and Gaboon; The Western Congo Basin, The Eastern Congo Basin
    • Examine the iconography of the different art forms and objects in relation to the religious-ritualistic and political factors of each specific sub-period and its ramification on African art in the Diaspora.
  4. Eastern & Southern Africa: Eastern Africa; Southern Africa
    • Demonstrate an understanding by comparing and contrasting the relationship between art, rituals, and visual cultures in the different regions of Africa.*
  5. The Diaspora: African Artists Abroad. Art of the African Diaspora in the Americas
    • Examine the exchange, interaction, impact, and influence of the different cultures in Africa on European and American modern art.
    • Recognize, identify, and read the iconography, style, and forms of African art and architecture through visual examination, analysis, and reading of related literature.

Assessment and Requirements

Assessment of Academic Achievement

The instructor will identify and implement appropriate methods to assess the achievement of the learning objectives for the course. These methods may include objective and essay examinations, as well as out-of-class papers, Internet assignments, and library projects.

General Course Requirements and Recommendations
  1. Students will write one long critical research paper for the course along with 2-3 short essay papers on specific topics from the materials of the course.
  2. Each student will develop a presentation based on the research paper and present it to the class during the last week of the course.
  3. There will be a weekly reading assignment assessed by in class discussion and participation.
  4. The whole class will visit the Detroit Institute of Art and tour certain sections related to the African art and materials. The DIA visit is mandatory, and students will meet at the museum on a prearranged day and time.  Students may conduct special research project at the African American Museum in Detroit or at a similar institution in the country or abroad.

Texts determined by department lead instructor

Credit for Prior College-Level Learning

Options for Credit for Prior College-Level Learning
Other Details

Department evaluation

Approval Dates

Effective Term
Winter 2015
ILT Approval Date
Curriculum Committee Approval Date