The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s School of Art, Art History and Design is hosting a webinar on the idea of the “Renaissance” historically being credited to western Europe, and how that concept has influenced white supremacy. 

The event will take place on Thursday, Oct. 29 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. This program is open for anyone to attend, including students, but all attendees must register online, according to Francisco Souto, director of the School of Art, Art History and Design. 

There will be a panel of speakers unfolding the history, culture and art of the Renaissance, along with early modern innovations and how they have been attributed to western Europeans. 

This discussion will include Stephennie Mulder, associate professor of art history and Islamic art and architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, and Nicholas R. Jones, assistant professor of Spanish and Africana studies at Bucknell University. 

Katie Anania, assistant professor of art history, will be moderating the event and said she invited these two scholars to discuss their work on the Renaissance. 

“Race and identity is the framework for examining pieces of history … I’m in particular very interested in the understanding of different kinds of Renaissance objects and the things they can tell us about early modernity,” Anania said. 

Souto will also be a member of the panel. He said he believes having these discussions are essential, even in this day and age. 

“Reconsidering the idea of ‘The Renaissance’ as strictly a European phenomenon is still important because it continues to shape the popular Western conceptions of race, nation and cultural rebirth,” Souto said.

Anania said that often, people imagine Italian paintings when they think about Renaissance art, or people associate early modern literature with William Shakespeare, an English writer. The panel will provide more information about historical exploration in different parts of the world to bring about the dialogue of how people think of race in the long term. 

“Some of the methods that these scholars are using not only examine different parts of the globe … they also look at different types of evidence such as fragments of textiles that have been circulated across vast oceans and are evidence of trade and exchange,” Anania said. 

Mulder will discuss a preserved Viking textile and the arguments about it, and Jones will speak about Early Modern Spain with the presence of Black cultural circulation, according to Souto. 

“Dr. Jones will discuss … Blackness as a kind of method, something that you start out by looking for and attending to instead of looking through a lot of evidence that is commonly found which is white people’s stories on Black people … it’s an intellectual lens to look at,” Souto said. 

Souto said this is a conversation for all people to relate to, including scholars and non-scholars. Although most of the panel will be scholars discussing their studies of pieces in history relating to the Renaissance, this conversation will ultimately work to understand the cultural patrimony that exists and discover other lenses of early modernity.

“This panel will bring alive many questions about how history gets formulated and why we continue to explore it,” Souto said.