College Of Arts And Sciences | Magic, Science & Art in Africa
E103 | 0035 | McNaughton, P.


Why do so many Americans and Europeans see science as being very
different from art while so many Africans find those differences
negligible?   This class will explore the complex and extremely
interesting interconnections between science, magic and art in
Africa, and examine how they have become disconnected in the West.
Our point of departure is the vast array of African art types that so
many books and museums call fetishes and spirit manifestations.  All
those sculptures with nails and knife blades sticking in them seem
like magic to Westerners, but they are something quite like Western
science to Africans, and this class will explore why.  We will meet a
spectacular array of deities and spirits and hopefully gain a richer
comprehension of how humans deal effectively with life's important
experiences.  In the process we will expand our sense of art's roles
in the world, and see how complex societies plan social and spiritual
strategies and make sense of the world and respond to intellectual
and social challenges aesthetically. Teaching methods range from
lectures to participatory exercises in small groups. The course meets
for two lectures and one discussion section per week. Requirements
usually include three examinations (short-answer plus essay), five
short (1-3 page) papers or “microthemes,” participation in
discussion, and regular attendance.