Dell Upton: Seeing a New South: Race, Aspiration and Progress in the Post-Emancipation Landscape

May 4, 2021 @ 6PM Virtual lecture by Dell Upton with Richard Longstreth as discussant.

In the U.S. South between Reconstruction and World War II, African Americans constructed a landscape of aspiration and achievement. Owing to longstanding practices of seeing rural Black material culture through the lenses of cultural exceptionalism and what Ananya Roy has called an “aesthetic of poverty,” this landscape has been overlooked in favor of the more easily understood works of the so-called talented tenth. This talk examines the less visible landscape, particularly as it was manifested in churches, cemeteries, and costume.

Dell Upton is Distinguished Research Professor at UCLA, where he taught in the art history department until 2020, having previously taught at Berkeley and the University of Virginia. He is Kress-Beinecke Professor for 2020-2021 at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art. His most recent books are What Can and Can’t Be Said: Race, Uplift, and Monument Building in the Contemporary South (Yale, 2015) and American Architecture: A Thematic History (Oxford 2019).

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