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Peter Schneck - Brown Madonnas, Red Mothers, and the 'New Negro' from Germany

Thursday, July 5th 2012, 7:00pm

Tuesday Night Talks at Pacific School of Religion
NOTE: This talk is on Thursday.

1798 Scenic Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

Reception 7 PM, Lecture 7:30 PM

Free and open to the public

The rich images and religious iconography created by artists in the Harlem Renaissance were a watershed for African-American aesthetics, pushing the struggle for political and social equality into a cultural movement that was deeply concerned with self-representation and spirituality. Artists like Aaron Douglas, Jacob Lawrence and others looked to both modernism and west-African folk traditions for creating new art that could be distinctly African and American. It is less well known how several key images that circulated in the Harlem Renaissance were made by a German  painter, Walter von Ruckteschell (1882-1941), based on his experience in colonial German East Africa  during WW I. This talk explores the fascinating transatlantic story of how African portraits and sketches by this German colonial army officer in present-day Tanzania ended up becoming seminal representations of the American “new negro” in the Harlem Renaissance.

Co-sponsored by the Art & Religion Ph.D. Program at the Graduate Theological Union and CARE (the Center for Arts, Religion, and Education).

Peter Schneck holds the Chair (professorship) for American Literature and Culture at the University of Osnabrueck in Germany, where he currently directs the International Summer Institute on Law, Language, and Culture. He has published widely on American literature, visual and legal culture, including the recent Rhetoric and Evidence: Legal Conflict and Literary Representation in U.S American Culture. As the former president of the German Association for American Studies, he has lectured throughout Europe and the United States on topics that range from multiculturalism and indigenous literatures in Canada, to Don DeLillo and postmodern spirituality, to theories of visual culture and mediatization. He is also co-editor of Philologie im Netz, one of Germany’s oldest  online journal for humanities scholarship. He is presently a visiting research fellow at the University of California, Irvine.