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Antiquity in the New Millennium Lecture: "Beyond Black vs White: Africans in the Visual Imagination of the Roman Empire"

The representation of foreign cultures with manifest “racial” differences, such as unfamiliar physical traits or strange-seeming ethnic customs, has been a longstanding and often visceral site for human artistic expression. The visual and material culture of the Roman Empire (c. 100 BCE-200 CE) provides a particularly abundant record of such cultural encounters, which render visible complex formulations of foreignness, social hierarchy, and power.

This lecture by Dr. Sinclair Bell, associate professor of art history at Northern Illinois University, focuses on how Roman artists represented Black Africans (sub-Saharan peoples) in different visual media, and explores issues related to the patronage, production, and viewership of these works. It looks at the conventions of their imagery, the critical axioms of their study, and their contemporary re-presentation in a museum setting.


Olin Auditorium (lower level)

Olin Center for Educational Technology

733 35th St.
Rock Island, IL 61201
United States

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Kirsten Day