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  3. Sexing the Canvas: Art and Gender

Sexing the Canvas: Art and Gender (GEND20006)

Undergraduate level 2Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 2
Subject codeGEND20006
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

What do pictures want in relation to sex and sexuality? How is art gendered? How do painters use the materiality of oil on canvas to make gendered critiques of the history of art and its cultures? Structured around the rich collections of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), each class will focus upon a specific work considering what insights a gendered analysis of it can provide. Lectures will be delivered in front of the paintings in situ in the gallery. Curatorial and expert academic staff from the NGV and the University of Melbourne will provide the lectures which will address a range of works drawn from the 18th century to the present. We will consider how gender, sex and sexuality impact on both the production and the reception of art and how artists utilise sexual codes at specific historical moments. Themes surrounding discourse, equality, ideology, and protest, will be addressed. We will consider how curatorial practises reinforce sexual difference through considering the artworks currently on display and how these produce meaning when they are taken as an aggregate in the context of an exhibition. We will study how works are conceptually framed by the information that the gallery provides about them through audio-guides, catalogue entries, hanging, and labelling. The subject will introduce you to key ideas from a number of thinkers including Judith Butler, Barbara Creed, Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigiary, Michele Foucault, W.J.T.Mitchell, Nicholas Chare, Svetlana Alpers, Michael Baxandall, Lynda Nead, Fred Orton, Griselda Pollock, Carol Duncan and Lisa Tickner.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should have:

  • an understanding of key terms from gender-related theories of art history and museology;
  • the ability to demonstrate various ways in which ideas about gender theory can productively be employed in theorizing curatorial practices;
  • the skills and confidence to take the initiative in relating theoretical ideas covered in the subject to the display of art and visual cultures;
  • learnt how to organize material into coherent and convincing arguments in their written work; and
  • the ability to foster close reading skills in relation to both texts and images.

Generic skills

At the completion of this subject, students should gain the following generic skills:

  • learn to be skilled in critical thinking and analysis;
  • cultivate oral and written communication skills;
  • develop an understanding of cultural and social contexts;
  • become skilled at managing time and resources effectively.

Last updated: 10 August 2019