In the late 20th Century, scientists concurred that race is more of a social construction than it is a biological one. Although physical markers of race such as skin color, hair texture, and the shapes of facial features are determined by a tiny part of human genetic information, art history evidences the persistent impact of racial concepts on American lives and art. This social interpretation of race has had a tremendous impact on the history of American cultural production and its engagement with the global art world.

This course explores art history in terms of racial and cultural identity, and points to the ways in which race intersects with other group identifications such as class, religion, sexual orientation or gender. We will examine the visual history of race in the United States, as both self-fashioning and external cultural mythology, by looking at the ways that conceptions of Native American, Latino, and Asian identity, alongside ideas of Blackness and Whiteness, have combined to create the enduring ideologies of class, gender, and sexuality evident in our historical visual and material culture. How did race become attached to individual bodies? How did art, fashion, and film aid in the creation and reification of racial categories in the United States during the 19th through 21st centuries? We will also investigate the ways that these creations have subsequently helped to launch new visual expression, from the colonial period through the early 2000’s, including painting, sculpture, photography, film, installation art, and performance.

In this class you may have the opportunity to ask and explore open-ended questions, investigate your own identity, visit museums, archives, and local art collections, to analyze works of art and art movements in terms of various identity issues, to hear from contemporary artists, and to look at, read about, and discuss how artists have used their work to investigate their identity or larger ideas about identity, diversity, race, and ideas about the Americas. We will analyze art and imagery that may be considered by some to be controversial and challenging. Participants must make a commitment to openly consider multiple perspectives and diverse arguments with dignity and respect.

Upon successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:
1. Articulate the connections between artists, identity, and a work of art including ideas about how identity investigations may be a rich source of inspiration for artistic expression
2. Identify, recognize, and critically examine art, art projects, and artists that explore race, identities, and experiences in the Americas
3. Observe, examine, appraise, and critique local arts organizations, arts projects, programs, or exhibitions which relate in some way to race, identity, experience and art in the Americas
4. Evaluate and employ and a variety of art-related information literacy approaches and sources

We will analyze art and imagery that may be considered by some to be controversial and challenging. Participants must make a commitment to openly consider multiple perspectives and diverse arguments with dignity and respect. Laptops, tablets, and cell phones are prohibited during class time, unless otherwise specified.

Attendance Policy:
Any absence will negatively affect your grade. When absent, you must consult the syllabus and Canvas in order to find out what occurred in classes you’ve missed. Any missed work must be completed by the time you next return to class. Absences are excused for medical reasons and/or family emergencies only and require documentation; medical absences require note from a doctor or nurse. A maximum of three excused absences are allowable; after 6 absences you must meet with your Academic Advisor to withdraw from the course. Three absences are allowable, but Four or Five absences will result in a full letter grade deduction or more from the final course grade. 6 absences is an automatic failure of the course regardless of the time spent, amount or work completed, or quality of the work completed. The professor reserves the right to count any latenesses or disruptive in-class behavior as an absence.

Withdrawing from a Class:
Please review the Swarthmore College policy of Withdrawal from Classes. You are financially responsible for classes from which you withdraw. Withdrawing from a class may greatly delay time to graduation. Please consult with an academic advisor before withdrawing from a course.

Grading Policies:
All work must be turned in on time and be completed in order to receive a passing grade for the course. Assignments turned in late will receive one-half letter grade deduction for each full day the assignment is late. No emailed work can be accepted unless indicated in the assignment. If you know that you have a serious conflict with assignment due dates or test dates, please see you professor well in advance to arrange to turn work in early and or arrange for an alternate due date. Grade Scale: A = 100-93% / A-=92-90% / B+ = 89-87% / B=86-83% / B- =82-80% / C+=79-77% / C=76-73% / C- = 72-70% / D+ = 69-67% / D=66-63% / D- = 62-60% / F = below 60%

Course Change Policy
The instructor reserves the right to make changes to the course, schedule, and policies at her discretion. Changes will be announced at the next class meeting as well as through an email notification. If necessary, a revised course schedule will be included.

Field trips: On the day of a field trip, we will meet at the museum or gallery during class time so that you can see the exhibition in preparation for your visual analysis paper. Please bring your student ID when you go to the field trip venue so that you may be eligible for free admission (depending on the institution). If you cannot attend the field trip during class time, please go on your own and include a selfie next to the artwork in your final paper.

1. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia
Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World
Oct 27, 2018 - Mar 31, 2019

2. Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia
Sonya Clark
March 29, 2019 – July 2019
1214 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Important Information and Assignments:
• Class participation, which includes attendance at all classes, film screenings, and the peer review, is essential to success in this class.
• A 5-6 page visual analysis paper based on one work you experienced during the required field trip exhibitions listed in the syllabus. Due to the schedule, an artwork from the first field trip will be the subject of the Visual Analysis paper and the second one will provide a Discussion Board assignment. No late posts accepted, period. Please double space and write in 12 pt. font only, Chicago style for citations. Include a photo of the artwork referenced at the end of your paper.
• Discussion Board Responses to Questions from Readings: these must be uploaded by the date they are due. Otherwise, they will receive 50% credit. There are 10 in total.
• The oral presentation will feature an 8-10 minute discussion and PowerPoint presentation about an individual artist or artist collective selected from the recommended artist list at the end of this syllabus. Your presentation must include a 100 word artist biography, introduction to key themes and methods in the artist’s work, and at least 8 images by an artist. You may include 1 minute of video from a reliable source (ask if you aren’t sure). It can be organized chronologically or thematically, but there must be a logical sequence of images and ideas. Your presentation will be assessed by focusing on a key theme in the artist’s work, its clarity and how well you articulate the work of this artist in relationship to themes of identity and American art. Please arrange artworks chronologically and include a list of 5 citations at the end. At least 3 out of the 5 citations must be articles or books. Please use Chicago format.
• All readings are available online as PDFs through Moodle unless otherwise noted.
• Remember to be frugal with emailing the professor --- email is fine for short, simple communications, but if you have questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer, please make an appointment for office hours. I am also usually available to speak briefly after class.

Participation 10%
Oral Presentation 30%
Discussion Board Assignments (10) 30% (pass/fail)
Field Trip Visual Analysis 30%