Still need to meet fine arts and human diversity requirements?

Still need to meet fine arts and human diversity requirements?

Seats are still available in a spring-semester art history course that meets both fine arts and human diversity core-curriculum requirements.

ARTH 285, Arts of Africa, will meet from 1:30 to 3:10 on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Room 203, O'Shaughnessy Educational Center.

Here's a course description: "The continent of Africa presents a world of contrasts, from the powerful trading empires of the Sahel to the small-scale, nomadic societies of the Kalahari. This course will survey the arts and cultures of sub-Saharan Africa, drawing on recent breakthroughs in archaeology, anthropology and art history to explore the diversity and creativity of past and present African artists. This course will explore material culture in its original context and seek to understand the social roles that art plays in all aspects of life, from religion and politics to personal relationships."

Dr. Heather Shirey, who joined St. Thomas' art history faculty this fall, will teach the course. Shirey developed an interest in African Brazilian art and culture as an undergraduate at the University of Iowa. In addition to studying Portuguese language, she trained in capoeira, an African Brazilian martial art developed as a form of resistance during slavery. Her interest in language and culture led her to Brazil for the first time in 1992, and she has returned many times since for her research.

After completing a master's degree at Tulane University, Shirey studied the arts of Africa and the African diaspora in the doctoral program at Indiana University. Her training as a graduate student was interdisciplinary, and her research methods are influenced by anthropology, history and folklore. She lived in Salvador da Bahia, a city on the northeast coast of Brazil, in 2000-2001.

With the support of a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, Shirey focused her dissertation research on the role of material culture in the African Brazilian religion Candomblé. She traveled to Ghana in winter 2005, studying Asante and Ewe textiles. She hopes to return to Ghana soon to continue research on art, politics and identity, as well as the impact of trade relations on art production.

If you have questions about the course, contact Shirey, (651) 962-5572.