Flash of the Spirit

HON 398 – Professor Dirck Westervelt

Modes of Inquiry: Textual Analysis, Artistic Creation and Analysis, Historical, Social and Cultural Analysis

Course Description:

In this course, we will pursue two goals: studying and familiarizing five different African cultures and understanding the introduction of as well as the transitions and reinventions of these cultures in the New World. Using the book ‘Flash of the Spirit’ by Robert Ferris Thompson as a guide, students’ will be encouraged to open up their own world views and be exposed to new possibilities of personal expression and community building through the mediums of language, art, film, music, spirituality, architecture, and even weaving. The course is divided into 5 parts: Yoruba (Nigeria); Kongo (Northern Angola, Western Congo); the Rara of the Universe (Benin); Round Houses and Rhythmized Textiles (Mali); and, the Emblems of Prowess (Cross River: Calibar region). Throughout the course, students must keep in mind some of the central components of these cultures and how they’ve evolved or were assimilated on their journey to and within the New World.