Art and the American Civil War: Violence, Race, and Memory

After the events in Charlottesville, and the national discussions and actions regarding Confederate monuments, this course on the American Civil War is being reconceived to provide a forum for sustained dialogue and inquiry into questions about the agency of art in public spaces, race and representation, memory and memorialization. We begin with recently contested monuments, discussing media coverage, opinion pieces, as well as reports generated by city governments and universities. Class sessions touch on the legal, ethical, and political questions raised by these sculptures, their sites, and their histories. We also explore the emergence of photojournalism and the illustrated newspaper; race and photographic portraiture; the material culture of war and enslavement; and the representational challenges posed by such violence and trauma to visual media. Our conversations often take place in Yale collections (Beinecke Library, Art Gallery, and Cushing/Whitney Medical Library), and works-in-progress presentations are offered throughout the term. The aim is not only to think about the artistic production of and about the Civil War, but also to examine what this means for us now.
Taught by Jennifer Raab Fall 2017
Course Number: 
HSAR 752