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Feminist Art History

This course will examine feminist art throughout art history, the role of the woman in regards to society and artistic expression, oppression, and systematic leaving out of women in history with specific attention to art history. Feminist art cannot be classified as a style, like impressionism or cubism; nor is it bound to a particular medium, like painting or quilting; nor is it simply art by women. Feminist art challenges artistic conventions and embraces multiple media; it expresses criticism of structural and ideological inequalities with regard to gender, sexuality, race, class, and nationality, while proposing alternative, experimental solutions; and it does so through serious engagement with aesthetics and form. In other words, feminist art is a field of practice and inquiry that is neither simply social nor aesthetic, in which entanglements of form and ideology, representation and politics are questioned, turned over, and remade. This course takes that premise to the global level, asking how social categories like gender and sexuality are constructed in similar and different ways across cultures, and how the work of feminist artists responds to these powerful formations as shaped by local and global institutions. Rather than assuming that feminist art begins in the West, as important origin stories like the formation of the Guerrilla Girls sometimes suggest, we explore an art history of innovation and intervention grounded in centers like Beijing, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Paris, New York, and Mumbai, which also examines the role of the West in the documentation of art history.


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