Flash of the Spirit

Readings from “Flash of the Spirit”
6:30 – 8:00pm Tuesdays September 2 and September 9
Venue: “9338 Campau” Gallery, 9338 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck
In this course we will read selected sections from Richard Farris Thompson’s influential book “Flash of the Spirit”, with a specific concentration on the Yoruba section. Participants in the course will gain an understanding of the general themes of Thompson’s book and an introduction to some aspects of Yoruba culture. The course will accompany, the show “until something else comes along” by artist Saffell Gardner whose work reflects some of the themes of the book.
In week 1 we will read the book’s Introduction, in which Thompson outlines his major thesis: that more African visual culture and philosophy crossed the Atlantic to the Americas than is generally recognized. Also we will look at the first section of Chapter 1, “Black Saints Go Marching In: Yoruba Art and Culture in the Americas” which looks at Yoruba concepts such as “ashe”, “iwa” and “tutu”. This material is posted here and also here.
In week 2 we will look at two or three of the book’s portraits of major Yoruba Orisha, perhaps Eshu-Elegba, Ifa and/or Shango. Readings are forthcoming.

History From the Ground Up


Image courtesy of Hamtramck Historical Museum. “This is Joseph Campau just south of where the viaduct is today. Dodge Main is on the left. This dates from about 1920,” – Greg Kowalski

History From The Ground Up is an exploratory course that mixes investigation of group-selected aspects of Hamtramck’s history with a look at different approaches to interpreting history.
In the first week, Hamtramck historian Greg Kowalski will give an introduction to the history of Hamtramck, and as a group we will select topics from the city’s history to cover in detail on a weekly basis over the remainder of the course.
In subsequent weeks we will review what verifiable data exists in each of these areas (relying heavily on Greg’s extensive archive of pre-existing research) then examine how different historical methods and perspectives might construct different narratives from this data.
The objective of the course is to both develop an awareness of the history of this unique urban area and a critical approach to reading history in a general sense.

Please note: For the first week (April 14) we’ll meet at the People’s Community Center at 8625 Joseph Campau at 6:30pm. During the following four weeks (April 21 and 28, May 5 and 12) we will be at the Hamtramck Historical Museum at 6:30pm.

The following readings will be utilized each week during the course:

Week 1, April 14

What do historians aspire to?, John Tosh, pp.1-8 from the introduction to “Historians on History”

Week 2, April 21

Empiricism, Anna Green and Kathleen Troup, pp. 1-3 from “The houses of history”

The event, the fact and the narrative, Callum G. Brown, p26-30 from Postmodernism for Historians

Week 3, April 28

A short section from Chapter 1 of A Peoples History of the United States, Howard Zinn

A short section from the Preface to The Making of the English Working Class, E P Thompson

Please note that for those that want to read more, the full versions of these two books are available online at the following locations:



The readings for weeks 4 and 5 are TBD depending on what direction the course goes in.