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Women and Visual Culture: Texts

This discussion of texts for a course on Women and Visual Culture took place on
WMST-L in November/December 2006.  For additional WMST-L files available on the
Web, see the WMST-L File Collection.
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 14:13:33 -0500
From: ckoppelman AT NOTES.CC.SUNYSB.EDU
Subject: women in visual culture
I proposed a course, Women In Visual Culture. I was wondering if anyone is
teaching such a course?  I have been looking at a text, Feminism and Visual
Culture.  Is anyone familiar with this text edited by Amelia Jones? I have
been teaching Women In the Visual Arts, but with this course I want to
expand on the areas under discussion in the art course: advertising,
movies, tv, theatre, fashion etc. Any suggestions for other texts or
articles on images in popular culture would be appreciated.  As a historian
with an art background, I have some ideas about contrasting 19th century
and 20th century popular images with what is available and influencing our
culture today. The proposal is for Fall 2007, so I have time to develop the
syllabus. Send responses to me or to the list if you think that it would be
appreciated by anyone else.
Connie Koppelman Ph.D.
ckoppelman AT notes.cc.sunysb.edu
Date: Fri, 1 Dec 2006 04:58:51 +0200
From: Janine Hoek <jhoek AT TELKOMSA.NET>
Subject: Re: women in visual culture
Wondering about whether the work of Laura Mulvey on "scopophilia" is still
considered seminal on this topic - of course there has been much criticism,
but still, she did develop the conceptual framework to contemplate the
(male) gaze within feminism. To subvert this position, what might be
interesting, is to talk around women as the viewer re: subjectivity and
agency - especially re: sexuality/lesbianism.
Best of luck with your work,
South Africa
jhoek AT telkomsa.net
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 20:04:20 -0800
From: Kami <kami AT ALTCINEMA.COM>
Subject: Re: women in visual culture
I would say absolutely, yes. Of course, it is also important to situate the
article in the context of lesbian/queer/women of color critiques. For my
undergrad Queer Visual Culture course, I pair Mulvey's article with Eve
Sedgewick and Monique Rooney's essays on the L-Word pilot (with a screening)
to talk about straight male, straight female, and queer female gazes and

Teaching Mulvey in the context of such courses (outside of film/art
departments, where students get trained in the basics of visual analysis) is
also extremely helpful in terms of beginning the process of helping students
develop a vocabulary to use in a critical analysis of visual culture.

Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 19:56:31 -0800
From: Kami <kami AT ALTCINEMA.COM>
Subject: Re: women in visual culture
I just looked at the table of contents for the Jones book and it struck me
as rather overly eclectic. I am familiar with a lot of the texts, and a good
number don't really have any direct connection with the study of visual
culture (even if they are foundational, wonderful, important works in
feminist theory).

I just ordered Sue Thornham's _Feminist Film Theory: A Reader_ for my MFA
visual culture course this spring... however, I am really focusing on film
and television.

Date: Fri, 1 Dec 2006 13:30:32 +0800
From: Josefa Schriever <tigerli AT MYDESTINY.NET>
Subject: Re: women in visual culture

Thank you for your comments on the Jones book, Kami. I just borrowed Amelia
Jones's Reader for the freminist articles I can use for my course in Theory
and Criticism. I would appreciate your comments on Sue Thorham's book
though, when you have gone through it.
I am recommending /Traumatic Encounters in Italian Film: Locating the
Cinematic Unconscious/ (Hardcover)
by Fabio Vighi._ _
The male gaze approach by Laura Mulvey has been questioned because of her
("free") interpretation of the Lacanian gaze. I haven't read Vighi's book
but i was able to listen him lecture in Amsterdam re-using the iconic film
Blow Up to carry his point across regarding the Lacanian gaze. He uses both
Lacan and Zizek in his strategic approach. I find that the use of the
Lacanian gaze in lieu of the male gaze definitely gives a different
interpretation because neither power nor representation can be determined.

Josefa Schrriever-Baldoz
University of the Philippines
jbschriever AT up.edu.ph
tigerli AT mydestiny.net
Date: Fri, 1 Dec 2006 08:55:22 -0500
From: Jennifer Drake <jdrake AT UINDY.EDU>
Subject: Re: women in visual culture
Hi Connie,

This may not be exactly what you're looking for, but Sidonie Smith and Julia
Watson have edited a collection called Interfaces:
Women/Autobiography/Image/Performance that explores twentieth and
twenty-first century women artists' self-representational work.  Many of the
artists that the essays discuss are dialoguing critically with
mainstream/popular representations of women and/or are engaging issues of
female embodiment, so they might serve as interesting counterpoints to other
course material you mention.  Artists discussed include Cindy Sherman, Jo
Spence, Hannah Wilke, Faith Ringgold, Janine Antoni, Lorna Simpson, Adrian
Piper, and Orlan.  Diane Neumaier's Reframings: New American Feminist
Photographies is also a great sourcebook for this kind of work.



Jennifer Drake
Associate Professor of English
University of Indianapolis
Date: Fri, 1 Dec 2006 09:17:07 -0500
From: Mary Jo Aagerstoun <mjaagerstoun AT MATHISNET.COM>
Subject: Re: women in visual culture
I hope all WMST-L members who will be teaching courses on Women and Culture,
Women and Visual Culture, Women and Art, etc. will consider the forthcoming
special issue on feminist activist art of the NWSA Journal (19.1 Spring
2007). It will be out in April, 2007. there are many offerings in this
special issue, coedited by Elissa Auther and myself, that would be
appropriate for any of the courses that have been mentioned in this thread
so far, for example: a piece on women documentary filmmakers who have done
films about the struggles of women film directors working in both the
Hollywood system and the alternative cinema arena; an essay on a South
African project that teaches poor women to create art works for sale to
tourists, and the effect on their economic status and personal
self-confidence; a group interview with Toxic Titties, the Dyke Action
Machine (DAM!) and the Guerrilla Girls; an essay on Afro-Cuban feminist hip
hop; an analysis of the anti-war performances of Raging Grannies, Code Pink
and the Missile Dick Chicks; and a forum discussing current issues in
feminist activist art practice including Margo Machida, Marsha Meskimmon,
Martha Rosler, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, subRosa, Mary Flanagan, Jennifer
Gonzalez, The Guerrilla Girls (yes they are in twice!), and with Amelia
Jones as respondent. There are also 4 in-depth review essays that consider a
total of 10 key texts on feminism and art, with an eye to how specifically
"activist" feminist art is treated, and an up to date look at work being
done on the net. Lots of illustrations in both color and black and white.
Don't miss it!

Mary Jo Aagerstoun, Ph. D.
Independent Scholar (Art History)
West Palm Beach, FL
mjaagerstoun AT mathisnet.com
Date: Fri, 1 Dec 2006 10:37:53 -0600
From: Michael Murphy <mjmurphy AT WUSTL.EDU>
Subject: Re: women in visual culture
Hi Janine,

I still consider Mulvey's "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" to be a
germinal essay, although it has many, many problems which have since been
considered by a number of writers including Mulvey herself. Many of the
responses to her essay have been collected in various film anthologies, some
published by the UK journal Screen. But see also E. Ann Kaplan's wonderful
collection _Feminism and Film_ (Oxford, 2000). Others have written about
Mulvey's consignment of voyeurism to males by showing how film often
positions men as the objects of the gaze, not just its subjects.  See the
work of Steve Cohan, Richard Dyer, and Kaja Silverman on this. I especially
like Silverman's work although it might be too advanced for undergrads. On
the LGB end, there are interesting essays on queer film reception in _Out in
Culture: Gay, Lesbian, and Queer Essays on Popular Culture_, Creekmur and
Doty, eds. (Duke, 1995) and _A Queer Romance: Lesbians, Gay Men, and Popular
Culture_, Burston and Richardson, eds. (Routledge, 1995). I especially
appreciate the critical review of gaze theory by Caroline Evans and Lorraine
Gamman, "The Gaze Revisited, or Reviewing Queer Viewing." There's been a TON
written on queers and film but don't overlook my favorite film essay "Anal
_Rope_," by D. A. Miller in Diana Fuss, _inside/out: Lesbian Theories, Gay
Theories. Lee Edelman has written as similar essay about Hitchcock's _Rear
Window_ but I don't have the cite to hand.

I have looked at the Jones anthology and find it has a number of key works
but it may be overwhelming in its diversity. Jones' work on gender and video
art, and gender and performance art are well worth a look-see.

Michael J. Murphy, PhD
Instructor, Women and Gender Studies
Campus Box 1078
Washington University in St. Louis
Saint Louis MO 63130-4899
mjmurphy AT wustl.edu

"The nation's hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer,
and the sacred tree is dead."
-Black Elk on the U. S. Army massacre of Oglala Sioux at Wounded Knee (29 December 1890)
Date: Fri, 1 Dec 2006 09:14:25 -0800
From: Alyson Buckman <abuckman AT CSUS.EDU>
Subject: Re: women in visual culture
I've used Thornham's book and found it very good.  Students (at this school,
CSU, Sacramento) had difficulty with the text and unfortunately gave up even as
I tried to work them through it. 

Alyson Buckman
California State University Sacramento
abuckman AT csus.edu

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