Beyonce and JAy-Z standing in front of the Mona Lisa

Unit 4: Black Venuses

Week 16: Sara Baartman (1798-1815), “Hottentot Venus”

Thurs Jan 20 AMControlling Black Bodies: the Black Code• The Black Code (Louisiana Creoles) / French Colonial Politics. See the original document here; read the “Code Noir” (1685), translated by John Garrigus (p. 1-6).
• William Renwick Riddell. “Le Code Noir.” The Journal of Negro History, vol. 10, no. 3, 1925, pp. 321–329.
• Hartman, Saidiya. “Venus in Two Acts.” Small Axe: a Journal of Criticism, 2008, Vol.12 (2), pp.1-14.
Optional reading:
• Everett, Donald E. “Free Persons of Color in Colonial Louisiana.” Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Winter, 1966), pp. 21-50.
• Annotate with “Code Noir” translated by John Garrigus (p 1-6).
• Pay attention to specific mention of Louisiana when you read Riddell; notes in your red notebook on this.
• Post in the slack thread for this day: Think about connections between the “Code Noir” and the body. How are these two elements connected? What are the implications on the lives of the code’s subjects? What are the long term embodied experiences and the legacy of this code? Please inform your responses with your reading of William Renwick Riddell’s article.
• Post in the second slack thread for this day: After Reading Hartman’s “Venus in Two Acts,” answer the following questions (please elaborate): who is (the) Black Venus(e)? Why is it so hard to tell her story? What are some strategies to try to tell her story? Please elaborate.
Thurs Jan 20 PMThe black body, exploitation and human dignityAbdellatif Kechiche: Black Venus. 2010. Paris: MK2. (2 hours 46 minutes)
Note: the movie contains graphic nudity, and physical and sexual violence.
Take notes in your redbook:
a) while watching the movie, about truth, facts, lies, representations, human dignity, the body;
b) please pay attention to and take a few notes on what the camera watches, or wants you to watch/see? Are there characters, places, various elements on which the camera insists or lingers?
c) please watch the credits of the movie. The director inserted some extra footage. Watch carefully and take notes: why is that footage present? To what end?
If reading a film closely is new for you, please see the how to watch a movie tips under the resources tab.
Tues Jan PMThe black body, exploitation and human dignity• Sadiah Qureshi. “Displaying Sara Baartman, the ‘Hottentot Venus.’” London, England: SAGE Publications. History of Science, 2004-06, Vol.42 (2), p.233-257.
• Sojourner Truth. “Ain’t I a woman?” June 21, 1851.
• Pascal Blanchard, Nicolas Bancel, and Sandrine Lemaire. “From Human Zoos to Colonial Apotheoses: the Era of Exhibiting the Other,Africultures (30 November 2001).
Prepare: both are equally important
1. Academic post in the slack channel on/about human dignity and how the texts you read address and engage with that issue? What about the lived and embodied experience of the black person?
2. Non-academic post in your redbook: in a few sentences, tell us about your visceral reaction to all we’ve discussed and seen. Tell us what you find disgusting, fascinating, embarrassing, uncomfortable. You will not post your responses in slack but please bring your redbook to class to discuss your thoughts about the despicable. This is a difficult exercise and conversation we must have.

Week 17: Josephine Baker: the First Black Superstar

Thurs Jan 27 AMJosephine Baker: the First Black Superstar• Arlisha R. Norwood’s very short biography of Josephine Baker at the National Museum of Women’s History site.
Joséphine Baker: The 1st Black Superstar. Forget About It Film & TV, for BBC Wales. 2006. Narrated by Josette Simon. Directed by Suzanne Phillips. (59 min.)
Optional reading:
• Alicja Sowinska. “Dialectics of the Banana Skirt: The Ambiguities of Josephine Bakers’ Self-Representation.” Bodies: Physical and Abstract: vol 19, Fall 2005-Spring 2006.
Find: 2-3 pictures or drawings of Josephine Baker that you find iconic, in your redbook, write down the source, title and photographer/artist and explain what you see and why these images are iconic.
Post: in the slack channel for this day, comment on how Josephine Baker used her body. What was her agenda, if you can identify one? Please elaborate.
Thurs Jan 27 PMJosephine Baker: an icon in the negrophilia eraPetrine Archer-Straw. “Packaging the Primitive,” Negrophilia: Avant-garde Paris and Black Culture in the 1920s. p. 23-49.
• Anne Anlin Cheng: “Ethical Looking,” Second Skin: Josephine Baker and the Modern Surface, pages 165-173. Ebook with the chapter in context here. PDF in the readings folder.
In the slack channel for the day, According to what you have read, how is Josephine Baker body consumed by the white gaze? How/when does her body become visible? What does it mean for other black women’s bodies?
Tues Feb 1The colonial agenda: dehumanizing the Black Body• Fanon, Franz.“The Fact of Blackness,” in Black Skin White Masks. New ed. London: Pluto Press. 2008. pp.82-108. (ebook); pdf of this chapter only in the readings folder.
• Césaire, Aimé. Discourse on Colonialism. New York: Monthly Review Press. 2000. pp. 29-78, ebook here. As a pdf in the readings folder.
In 250-500 words for each text in the slack channel, please explain Fanon’s and Césaire’s article using Sara Baartman’s or Josephine Baker’s examples. You may use both Venuses for each article or one per article.

Week 18: Beyoncé (September 4, 1981 – ), “Queen Bey”

Thurs Feb 3 AMLemonadeLemonade
View, listen: Beyoncé. Lemonade. 2016. Full video album here on vimeo. (65 min.)
Listen: Cole Kuchna. Dissect. “Lemonade.” Episode #1. (46 min.)
To listen to the Dissect podcast on Lemonade please visit iTunes or Spotify (here’s the link to episode 1 on spotify). Dissect podcast’s visual guide materials for Lemonade are here.

Optional reading: Hartmann, Johanna. “Sound, Vision, and Embodied Performativity in Beyoncé Knowles’ Visual Albulm Lemonade (2016).” European journal of American studies, 12-4 (2017). Open access online here. PDF in the readings folder.
know the material; notes in your red notebooks as always.
Thurs Feb 3 PM Lemonade & Apeshit
Any 2 episodes of the Dissect podcast (approx. 2 hours)Work: Take notes on the podcast episodes you have listened to. With your partner, write up a 150-word summary, that you will present to your group during class.

Finale: with your section, you will work toward presenting the song which, in your concerted opinion best represents the theme of our course and should become the Humes anthem for 2020. You will start your presentation during class on Thursday morning and finish in the afternoon. (Details to follow.)
Tues Feb 8 PMA Humes anthem?Morrison, Toni. “Preface,” “Black Matters.” Playing in the Dark, Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. 1992. New York: Vintage Books. pp. v.-xiii. & in the slack channel for this unit: How does Beyoncé’s work engage with Morrison’s ideas in “Black Matters”?
Present on video:
Final “3 Black Venuses” project: Humes’ anthem
With your entire section, following the morning session on Thursday, October 8, you will work collectively to create a pitch to “win” the most votes for the song your section chose to become this year’s Humes anthem.
Your pitch is a convincing and energetic presentation that explains why/how your song is the best anthem for Humes and its theme this year, and must contain the following:
·     A “recorded” video or multimedia presentation
·     4-minutes max
·     Every voice in the group must be heard
·     Create a physical “tableau” or image using elements of Prof. Green’s workshop (it can be using your bodies to express an emotion, a work, etc.)
Your recorded pitch is due in Slack on Saturday, October 10 at 6:00 p.m. at the latest.