Syllabus for Art 304

Art 304 Woman as Muse and Maker from Antiquity to the Present
D. Sadler T-TH 11:30-12:45 Dana 101
Office Hours M 3:30-5 or by apppointment Dana 109, ext. 6245
Required text: Whitney Chadwick, Women, Art, and Society (London: Thames and Hudson, Ltd., 2012)
Recommended: Reclaiming Female Agency Feminist Art History After PostModernism, Edited by Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005)

This course will provide an introduction to the role of women as subjects, authors, and patrons of works of art. Not only were women the ambivalent object of portrayal from Eve to the Virgin, but also suspect when given a paintbrush or chisel of their own. In probing the history of women as muse, maker, and sponsor, readings and discussions will embrace a variety of art historical methodologies, including feminist theory, issues of agency, the gaze, gender, performance theory and viewer-response theory. Tracing the evolution of craft to fine art, from scriptorium to performance artist, from Hildegard to Judy Chicago to Shirin Neshat, we will study the variety of ways in which women have been perceived and have given voice to their own perceptions.

A seminar offers participants the opportunity for the highest level of discourse available in the classroom, if one engages to the fullest extent with the material of the course. What does this mean? Reading, mulling, commenting on the blog (, and reflecting on your peers’ insights are symptoms of engagement… Attendance, both physical and mental, is required. If you miss more than 3 classes, your grade will be lowered 1/3rd of a letter grade for each subsequent absence. There will be one mid-term reflection paper on the readings and discussion that we have had up to that point. In addition, students will present journal articles to the class for which the presenter and her peers will formulate questions to be posted on the course blog. After the third week of class students will begin work on their seminar reports that will be the culminating event of this course. After these oral presentations, students will have the opportunity to incorporate suggestions made by classmates or the professor in the final paper version of these reports. Onward and upward.

The Goals of this course are:

• To examine the evolution of women both as artists and patrons of art: what societal forces hindered or helped women find their voices?
• To improve analytic skills and critical thinking in the field of art history
• To encourage, develop, and refine students’ ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in written form, about art history
• To encourage the poetic imagination in order to foster the desire to tell one’s own story

Your Grade will be comprised of the following elements:

• 10% Class Participation
• 10% Course Blog ( Students will post comments and questions about readings (24 hours before the next class!), links to news items, web pages, and other grist for the mill
• 20% Midterm Narrative
• 30% Article Presentations
• 15% Seminar Report
• 15% Final Paper

Credit and Workload: Although 3 hours will be spent in class, an additional 5-7 hours will be spent out of class reading and preparing for class discussions, crafting your two article presentations for the class, posting questions, responses, and reflections on the course blog (a weekly imperative!), visiting both museums (High and Carlos) and galleries in pursuit of the woman artist, attending lectures at neighboring institutions, and finally researching and writing your seminar report and final paper.

Disability Services: If you have a disability that may have some impact on your work in this class and for which you may require accommodations, please see Kelly Deasy in the Office of Academic Advising and Student Disability Services to register for these services. Students that receive accommodation checklists, please meet with me to discuss the provisions of those accommodations as soon as possible.

Course Evaluations: Near the end of the semester you will be notified by e-mail and provided with a link to follow to complete course evaluations online outside of class. Your feedback is extremely valuable to me, the department, and the administration. With the help of your insightful comments, I will be able to improve the course the next time I teach it.

Academic Integrity: It is expected that all students will abide by the policies of the Honor Code. Students who violate these policies through plagiarism, collaboration on projects without permission, submitting the same work for multiple classes, and any other infractions outlined in the Honor Code will be asked to turn themselves in to the Honor Council. If you have any questions about academic integrity, please speak with me.


WEEK OF AUGUST 26: Art history and Feminism,
Reading: Chadwick, Preface and Introduction
Linda Nochlin, “Why Have there Been No Great Women Artists? from Women, Art, and Power, and Other Essays, 145 ff.
Lynda Nead, “Feminism, Art History, and Cultural Politics,” The New Art History, eds. A.L. Rees and F. Borzello (London: Camden Press, 1986), 120-124.

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 2: Artists and Patrons emerge from their respective rocks….
Reading: Lisa Aronson, “African Women in the Visual Arts,” Signs, Vol. 16, no.3 (Spring, 1991): 550-574.
Thalia Gouma-Peterson and Patricia Mathews, “The Feminist Critique of Art History,” Art Bulletin 69, no. 3 (1987): 326-357.

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 9: Women in Ancient Cultures? Greece and Rome? Egypt? Mesopotamia?
Reading: Judith Bettelheim, “Women in Masquerade and Performance,” African Arts, 31, no. 2, Special Issue: Women’s Masquerades in Africa and Diaspora, (Spring, 1998): 68-70; 93-94
Nancy Luomala, “Matrilineal Reinterpretation of Some Egyptian Sacred Cows,” in Feminism and Art History Questioning the Litany, ed. N. Broude and M.D. Garrard (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), 19-31.

Welcome to the Middle Ages
WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 16: Reading: Chadwick, chapter 1 and
Jeffrey F. Hamburger, “Art, Enclosure and the Cura Monialium: Prolegomena in the Guise of a Postscript,” Gesta, 31, no. 2, (1992): 108-134. Elina Gertsman, “Image as Word: Visual Openings, Ocular Readings,” Studies in Iconography 32 (2011): 51-80.

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 23: Matilda and Hildegard of Bingen, Two models of female power
Reading: Beth L. Holman, “Exemplum and Imitatio: Countess Matilda and Lecrezia Pico della Mirandola at Polirone,” Art Bulletin 81, no. 4 (1999): 637-664. Richard K. Emmerson, “The Representation of Antichrist in Hildegard of Bingen’s Scivias: Image, Word, Commentary, and Visionary Experience,” Gesta 41, no. 2 (2002): 95-110
Reading: Chadwick, chapter 2
Midterm Narrative due on October 8, 2013

Week of September 30: The Renaissance arrives!
Gender and the devotional portrait
Reading: Chadwick, chapter 3
Andrea G. Pearson, “Personal Worship, Gender, and the Devotional Portrait Diptych,” Sixteenth Century Journal 31, no. 1 (2000): 99-122.
Patricia Simons, “Women in Frames: The Gaze, the Eye, the Profile in Renaissance Portraiture,” History Workshop 25 (1988): 4-30. Mary D. Garrard, “Here’s Looking at Me Sofonisba Anguissola and the Problem of the Woman Artist,” Reclaiming Female Agency Feminist Art History After PostModernism, ed. N. Broude and M.D. Garrard (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 27-47.

Week of October 7: Renaissance Patronage
Reading: Carolyn Valone, “Women on the Quirinal Hill: Patronage in Rome 1560-1630,” Art Bulletin 76, no. 1 (1994): 129-146.
Rose Marie San Juan, “The Court Lady’s Dilemma: Isabella d’Este and Art Collecting in the Renaissance,” Oxford Art Journal 14, no. 1 (1991): 67-78.
Midterm Narrative due! Fall Break!

Week of October 14: Go for Baroque…
Reading: Chadwick, chapters 4 and 5
Diane Wolfthal, “’A Hue and a Cry:’ Medieval Rape Imagery and its Transformation,” Art Bulletin 75, no. 1 (1993): 39-64.

Week of October 21: Women Heroines from Antiquity, the Bible, and Mythology! What do Judith, Esther, Cleopatra, Lucretia, Portia, Aurora, and Clio have in common?
Reading: Babette Bohn, “The Antique Heroines of Elisabetta Sirani” and Mary D. Garrard, “Artemisia’s Hand,” Reclaiming Female Agency Feminist Art History After PostModernism, ed. N. Broude and M.D. Garrard, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 81-99 and 63-79, respectively.

Week of October 28: The Academy, Women, and the Happy Mother…
Reading: Chadwick, Chapters 6 and 7
Carol Duncan, “Happy Mothers and Other New Ideas in Eighteenth-Century French Art,” Feminism and Art History Questioning the Litany, ed. by N. Broude and M.D. Garrard (New York: Harper and Row, 1982), 201-219.
Mary D. Sheriff, “The Portrait of the Queen, Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun’s Marie-Antoinette en chemise,” Reclaiming Female Agency Feminist Art History After PostModernism, ed. N. Broude and M.D. Garrard (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 121-141.

Week of November 4: The Female Body! Reading: Chadwick, Chapter 10; Amelia Jones, The “Eternal Return”: Self-Portrait Photography as a Technology of Embodiment,” Signs 27, no. 4 (2002): 947-978; Eleanor Heartney, “Thinking through the Body: Women Artists and the Catholic Imagination,” Hypatia 18, no. 4 (Women, Art, and Aesthetics) (2003): 3-22.

Week of November 11: From the “Rhetoric of Pleasure” to Mass Consumption Reading: Chadwick, Chapters 8 and 9; Ruth E. Iskin, “Selling, Seduction, and Soliciting the Eye Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergère,”

Week of November 18: Cindy Sherman!




Surrealism and the Women thereof!

1.  What was wrong with the “femme-enfant” paradigm?

2.  In what role were women cast in the Surrealist movement?

3.  What is the subtext of Man Ray’s “Le Violin de Ingres?”

4.  Do you feel that Lee Miller’s contribution to art history is given its due?  Why or why not?

5.  Calling Dr. Freud:  Dorothea Tanning’s work, discuss!

6.  The pain of one’s physical condition seems to be a leitmotif in the work of Surrealist women’s art.  Do you agree, and if so, why do you think this surfaces at this point in history?

7.  How many Surrealist wives did Max Ernst have????  Leonara Carrington often featured white horses in her work. What do you think that symbolized for her?

8.  Frida Kahlo is often categorized as a Surrealist, though her works in many ways defy this label.  In what ways do you feel she conforms to this group of painters?

9.  In what ways did Surrealism serve women artists?  In what ways did it fail them?

Post-Collage Musings: Late Medieval Female Body and Later 19th- and 20th-Century Queries

1.  Reflections on the female body as it was so gloriously explored by Elina Gertsman on the day of Collage?  Any surprises that you would like to share?  I, for example, had no idea that Caesarian births generated the Anti-Christ (I don’t think I will tell my daughter).  As a member of the species of failed males, with my undesirable humors, et. al., I find it amazing that pregnancy is considered a favorable state!  Obviously, the positive spin on pregnancy is solely due to the role of the male in provoking it.

2.  So, where were we?  Comment on the uneasy relationship between Impressionism and women as artists and models.

3.  Do you agree with Chadwick’s comments regarding Mary Cassatt and her subject matter?

4.  In your opinion, does the conflation of Camille Claudel’s biography and her stylistic evolution pose the same dangers that we have discussed before in this course?

5.  Why is Suzanne Valadon such a unique artist/model/mother/wife in the history of art?  What did you notice in the contrast of Chadwick’s discussion of the figures of Valadon and those of Renoir?

6.  Discuss the meaning of “The Abandoned Doll.”

7.  Why are the graphic arts such an ideal medium for Kathe Kollwitz’s subject matter?  What other artists have successfully employed the same medium?

8.  Comment on some of the following relationships:  Paula Modersohn-Becker and Worpswede artists; Gabrielle Munter and Kandinsky; Sonia Delaunay and the Simultaneous; Popova and the newly industrialized world; Gwen John and Vermeer;

9.  What was Vanessa Bell’s greatest contribution in your opinion?

10.  Why is the life and art of Romaine Brooks so compelling?

11.  Was Hannah Hoch merely a token female in the Club Dada founded in 1918?  Why is “photomontage” such a paradigm shift in terms of visual solutions?

12.  In what ways is “Marlene” from 1930 a deconstruction of sexism?

Mme. de Pompadour as a non-patron of the Arts….

Rosie is our guide on this article.  Some thoughts:  Why did Donald Posner choose to study this subject?  How could Mme. de  Pompadour be both the champion of the Rococo and the new Neoclassical style?  If the author’s goal is to reassess the patron’s non-impact on the art scene, has he proceeded in a logical way?  How would you have approached this problem?  When Louis XV and Mme. de Pompadour became friends “without benefits” as it were, did art supplant the role of sex?  What was Mme. de Pompadour’s relationship to Tournehem? to Marigny?  Did Mme. de Pompadour have “an aesthetic” of her own?  If so,  where is it manifest?  Why is architecture so favored by the king?  Why does Mme. de Pompadour support the Ecole Militaire project?  The porcelain, the porcelain!  At last, do we see a hint of influence of Mme. de Pompadour? In considering the sculptures that Mme. de P. favored, what do you think of her taste?  Does she reside strongly in the Rococo camp?  Why do you think she favored Boucher’s portrait of her?  Finally, discuss the aspect of Mme. de Pompadour that was revealed by her avid interest and ability in gem cutting.

The “Curse!”

Lola is our guide on this provocative article on Sin, Salvation, and the Menstrual Cycle in the Middle Ages.  Just a few thoughts:  Yikes!  “What else is woman but a foe to friendship, an unescapable (sic) punishment, a necessary evil, a natural temptation, a desirable calamity, a domestic danger, a delectable detriment, an evil of nature, painted with fair colors….”   The charge of being more carnal than men of course stems from that day in the garden of Eden.  But what do you make of Gregory’s conceit that sin is committed in three ways?  Again, this leads us back to the identification of women with nature (flesh) and men with mind and spirit (culture).  How does the definition of menstruation intersect with Marian piety?  Why does the stain threaten Mary’s Bodily Assumption into heaven?  How do medieval theologians get around the fact that Mary lactates, and does so copiously at that?  How do medieval exegetical writers get around the fact that Mary is in a sense the last in a line of female fertility goddesses? What is the Dominican position on Mary’s physiology?  How does Albertus Magnus reconcile Aristotle’s conclusions about the lifespan of men and women with the contradictory data culled from the 13th century? How does the Virgin unwittingly become a source of misogyny?  Does the Virgin ultimately save the female day?  Confession:  If I couldn’t be a medieval art historian or a bard in ancient Greece, I would love to be and Early Christian Church Father, shaping exegetical thought for the theologians of the future ….Onward!

Remember to post your thoughts!!!

Seeing and Performing Late Medieval Childbirth

1.  According to Gibson, what parts of the pregnant body and childbearing experience were off limits to the male gaze?

2.  You’ve got to love the Middle Ages:  who was Silence in the Roman de Silence?

3.  Why is “lateral imagining” necessary and what are the types of texts that help historians piece together our knowledge of medieval childbirth?

4.  What do Virginia Woolf, women’s bodies, the patriarchy, and performance have in common?  Work with me here!

5.  How do the ceremonial birthing trays function both as a witness to and mediator of the enclosed birthing rooms?

6.  What do the inscriptions on the birthing tray in the Metropolitan Museum connote?  Does the iconography of the obverse of this salver reinforce the male-female dialectic that we have been discussing in this course?

7.  Discuss the origins of the word “gossip!”  What are the parallels between the midwife and the clergy?

8.  Why was the performance of the Nativity so compelling?  What does Gibson mean by the theological gynecology of Mary as a recurrent spectacle in the N-Town cycle?  In what way is this performance a transgression of gender boundaries?

9.  How does Joseph cross the gender boundaries in art?

10.  What role does the doubting midwife play in the “gender wars?”

11.  In the end, the Virgin’s body remains a contested site, one that experiences true labor pains at the foot of the Cross as she experiences the loss of her son.  Some would argue that all pregnant bodies are  contested sites, privy to certain secrets (the quickening!), etc.  What do you think about the state of pregnancy today?

19th-century queries….

Please do not feel compelled to answer all of these questions.  They are meant to stimulate your own comments.

1.  What were some of the Victorian views of women that impeded “painterly progress?”

2.  What was the “Woman Question?”

3.  How do we explain the disconnect that existed between the romantic, sentimental paintings of the period that simultaneously witnessed such relatively monumental progress in the status of women?

4.  Did the foundation of societies for female artists alter the status achieved by these artists?  Why or why not?

5.  Were the ills of society reflected in the visual arts?  For example, is there evidence of the exploitation of servants, of governesses, etc. in art?

6.  Prostitution was described as the obverse side of the marriage coin.  Discuss!  Why did so many Pre-Raphaelites choose to depict women of fallen virtue?

7.  How does the British love of animals come into play in the story of Rosa Bonheur?  Does her portrayal of animals differ from that of her contemporaries?

8.  How do the issues of suffrage and anti-vivisection intersect in the nineteenth century?

9.  What was the impact of Black Beauty?  Do you remember its effect on you?

10.  Did women treat travel to other countries with the same degree of alterity and colonialism as their male counterparts?  How did the Society of Female Artists encourage these painters?

The Eternal Return!

I loved this article and have so many questions that I would like to discuss.  One issue that I would like your feedback on is whether or not you think these ideas pertain to photography only.  I have published an article utilizing the notion of punctum and the reception of the Well of Moses; in other words, I find the concept of representation’s ability to both preserve and kill an image simultaneously, to serve as a screen, a fetish, a source of punctum and studium, and site of performativity —viable in painting and sculpture as well as in photography.  (I am not speaking here of the subtle refinements that Jones contributes to the definition of self-portraiture—which are amazing!).  What do you think about the weighty role given to the viewer?  The notion of embodiment —discuss!  In footnote 22 Jones invokes O’Dell’s theory re: the photographic document of the performance as a link between the body of the performer and the body of the viewer.  In my work on the Entombment sculptures, I write about them as embodiments of the suffering of the community witnessing the death of Christ.  They perform this moment in time, so that the worshiper may project him or herself into the narrative, engendering a type of catharsis.  Does that sound plausible?  On page 971, how do the self-portraits of Sherman, Wilke, Ashton Harris, and Aguilar differ in their invocation of death from Renaissance memento mori?  Doesn’t Jones’ statement on page 972 re: art’s capacity to embrace the other and the radical benefits thereof make you want to sing an aria to the whole discipline?