Course Catalogue

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Course Catalogue WS 2023/24

Black Arts Movements

Theory seminar
WS 21/22
Target group
Basic Studies

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Dates - place & time

25.10.2124.01.22MondayWöchentlich10:00 - 13:00Filzengraben 18-24, Seminarraum 0.18/0.19
from-to10:00 - 13:00
LocationFilzengraben 18-24, Seminarraum 0.18/0.19

Seminar description

Prefigured in the Negritude Movement and the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s were informed by a global political awakening and mobilization amongst black people and other colonized people. Energized and inspired by anti-colonial, civil rights, and black power politics, the Black Arts Movements responded with innovation and renewal. However these art movements were not merely the aesthetic representation of this mobilization but experiments in the new forms of social life this mobilization might take. The collectives of the Black Arts Movements were the vanguard of the revolution, but a vanguard returning to the source, as Amilcar Cabral put it. Or as the founder of Kuumba Theatre in Chicago Val Gray Ward put it ‘black art is black life.’ In their commitment to finding necessary ways to work together, to serve the people, and to dismantle the figure of the artist and the scene of the art world in favor of something more organic, the Blacks Arts Movements anticipated transversality.

Moreover these transversal experiments found their most expansive form in performance, no matter the media or art discipline out of which they emerged. This seminar thus proposes to look at three festivals: Festac ‘77 in Nigeria, Carifesta ‘76 in Jamaica, and WattStax ‘72 in Los Angeles. None of these festivals was without its problems but at their best they reconfigured audiences and peoples, and to misquote Cabral art became the humus out of which something like revolution might emerge.

Alongside our study of these festivals we will screen several films including London’s Black Audio Collective and their film Handsworth Songs (1986), a film from Los Angeles Rebellion, Charles Burnett’s The Killer of Sheep (1978), Juan Declan’s AfriCOBRA: Art for the People, and more recently films by younger generation film-maker Ephraim Isili. The seminar will also draw on the following key texts.

Subsequent changes / additions

Key Readings:

- Sonia Sanchez et al., Eds. SOS – Calling All Black People: A Black Arts Movement Reader (2014)

- Elvira Dyangani Ose, Ed., Festac Reader: Second World Black and African Festival of Art and Culture (2019)

- La Donna Forsgren, Sistuhs in the Struggle: An Oral History of Black Arts Movement Theatre and Performance (2020) Guests: Fred Moten Edward George & Dhanveer Brar


Fred Moten

Edward George & Dhanveer Brar

Student office

Karin Cordes

Juliane Schwibbert

Katrin Seiniger

Claudia Warnecke

Heumarkt 14

50667 Köln

Tel.: +49 221 20189 - 194 /

119 / 187 / 249

Opening hours: Mondays + Tuesdays from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m.    -    4 p.m.

For enquiries or appointments, please call us, Mon - Thu 9.30 to 1 p.m., or send us an e-mail.

Summer semester 2024

Lecture period:
​​​​​​​Apr. 8, 2024 until Jul. 19, 2024

Winter semester 2024/25

Lecture period:
​​​​​​​Oct. 21, 2024 until Feb. 14, 2025

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