Professor Keller is committed to intellectual and cultural diversity, inclusivity, and civic engagement as a means to affect positive social change. As an Africanist, she strives to bring African cultural practices and theoretical perspectives to the conceptual awareness of global audiences, emphasizing their critical value within our increasingly interconnected, transcultural world. In the classroom, this means engaging critical analysis, dialog, and self-reflection to empower students to reconsider historical canons, to challenge cultural stereotypes and misinformation, and to confront the presence of the past. To encourage active participation and creative expression, her courses incorporate individual and collaborative projects and presentations, workshops, field trips, discussions, and debates, utilizing archival and museum collections, local cultural institutions, and contemporary media.
HA271: African Art from Local to Global Contexts
Presenting a survey of visual arts from Africa, this course is organized geographically and thematically, encompassing several eras—ancient to contemporary—and a wide range of art forms, such as architecture, sculpture, textiles, painting, photography, performance, and body decoration.
This interactive course asks students to question and rethink their knowledge about Africa and about art. Throughout its duration students are provided with the tools to identify, analyze, and discuss artworks from various regions of Africa and to be able to interpret them from a variety of historical, social, political, philosophical, and cultural perspectives.
HA471: Contemporary Art of Africa & the African Diaspora
During the 20th and 21st centuries, artists in Africa and the African diaspora have engaged diverse institutions, media, and aesthetic strategies to address colonial and postcolonial realities, including issues of education, gender, race, nationalism, and globalization, while interrogating a Eurocentric model of history and art historical canon. Students in this course are introduced to many of these important artists, along with the cultural movements and artworks they engendered, critically examining the fluid meaning and function of their productions in local, regional, and international contexts.
HA491: Special Topics: Rethinking Aesthetics in Art & Everyday Life
Since the eighteenth century, when the term was coined, Western vernacular and academic conceptions of aesthetics have predominantly concentrated on beauty. However, beauty does not apply to every artwork and it does not describe the affecting capacity of all aesthetic or art-related experiences. Thus, in this course students are asked to reconsider the notion of aesthetics as “beauty,” while critically analyzing the value of aesthetics in the creation and experience of art and expressive culture, and in more mundane daily realities through an engagement with varied transdisciplinary theoretical and methodological approaches to the topic in both Western and non-Western contexts.
GSAH220: Global Interactions & Identities:
Imagined Communities: Visual Media & Transcultural Relations among Africa and the North Atlantic
Studying specific visual media, historical events, and geographical locations as case studies, this class considers key moments of transcultural exchange among Africa and the North Atlantic from the 5th-21st centuries in order to rethink historical narratives that inform contemporary identities and belief systems.
GSAH312: Media & Mobility: Transcultural Exchange among Africa, Europe, & the Americas
This course considers the circulation, appropriation, and power of media in the context of transcultural exchange, creative expression, technological development, economic power, and political conflict. Within the context of globalization, this course introduces the concept of transculturation, inviting students to consider the significance this phenomenon has had in the development of our collective histories, world relations, and daily lives.
Although this primary focus remains the same, each section of the course approaches the topic from unique perspectives, studying specific media, historical events, and geographical locations as case studies. This class centers on media, mobility, and cultural exchange among Africa, Europe, and the Americas, concentrating largely on current events—from both local and global perspectives—and the contemporary challenges they present.
Civic Engagement: Engagement & Reflection through Photovoice
Photovoice is an innovative photo essay method that incorporates rudimentary photography with the practices of empowerment education and civic democracy. It puts cameras in the hands of individuals often excluded from decision-making processes in order to capture their voices and visions about their lives, community concerns, and insights. By sharing their stories about these images, reflecting with others about the broader meanings of the photos they have taken, and displaying these visual narratives for the broader public and policy makers to view, Photovoice photographers are provided with a unique opportunity to document and communicate important aspects of their lives. Photovoice has three main goals: 1.) to enable individuals to record and reflect their community’s strengths and concerns; 2.) to promote critical dialogue and knowledge about personal and community issues through small group discussions of photographs; and 3.) to reach community decision makers.
Students in this class engage Photovoice to facilitate self-reflection, communal dialogue, and civic engagement. Over the semester, students learn basic compositional and technical aspects of photography as means of visual expression and personal narrative, working collaboratively with staff and youth from the Lansing Refugee Development Center to develop and facilitate a Photovoice project at the Neighborhood Empowerment Center in Old Town Lansing. Through this process, students become more effective communicators, educators, and facilitators, and more engaged and reflective citizens, as they work with partners to develop project goals, lesson plans, and workshop activities.