Michael W. Zhang


Michael W. Zhang

African Art


Michael W. Zhang received his BA from McGill University in 2014, and his MA from the University of British Columbia in 2016. His MA thesis, “Umayyad Jerusalem and the Production of Social Spaces,” examines a period of intense architectural and infrastructural development in Jerusalem during the 6th and 7th centuries, and how these activities transformed the everyday lived experience in medieval Umayyad Jerusalem.

Michael’s doctoral dissertation topic proposes to look at the changing connotations of the figure of the black dancer within American and Caribbean art. Initially, the black dancer was understood to be representative of a primal, uncivilized being. However, beginning in the early 20th century, certain African-American artists began to claim dance as a part of their cultural heritage and a source of racial pride.

His publication in the December 2016 issue of Moreana, “Boethian Philosophy in Sir Thomas More’s Familial Portrait,” investigates the ways in which Hans Holbein upends expectations within this group portrait. In analyzing certain objects present within the painting, and by examining the relations and positions of various sitters relative to each other, Holbein’s painting becomes understood as a work that contains various intellectual parodies. These parodies convey ideas and themes that run counter to concepts presented by Boethius, who had a marked influence on More, in his Consolation of Philosophy.

Michael is currently the Graduate Student Government assembly representative for the department of Art & Archaeology. Previously, he has served on a Presidential Advisory Committee at the University of British Columbia. Additionally, he was the MA Art History representative within his department, and has also served as the Art History representative in the TA union at UBC.


“Boethian Philosophy in Sir Thomas More’s Familial Portrait,” Moreana 53.205-206 (2016).