After successful completion of this course you will be able to:
- Explain the potential meanings of the concept of gender using the different theoretical approaches provided;
- Analyse and critically assess how the gendering of makers and audiences impacts on the art and media world at all stages of the creative/receptive process;
- Analyse from an intersectional perspective and critically assess how artistic, media and everyday cultural expressions represent men, women and others;
- Distinguish and recognise different gender styles (inc. different forms of femininity and masculinity) in everyday life and in artistic and media expressions, and cultivate an understanding for both the anxieties and the creativity that accompany these styles;
- Exchange ideas on and experiences of gender in the media, art and culture in an open, (self-)critical, and constructive manner;
- Conduct and report on a small independent academic research project.
This course offers an introduction to cultural gender studies, focusing specifically on the role of gender in media and the arts, but also reflecting on gender in everyday life and culture(s) more broadly. Gender studies investigates the socio-cultural meanings attributed to perceived sexual differences, and explores the complex interaction between gender and other identity markers, such as race, class, physical and mental make-up ('ability'), and sexuality. Masculinity and femininity are not fixed but rather are constantly (re)produced; the arts and other media expressions play an important role in this process.
In particular, we will look at
- What is gender?
- How does the gendering of artists and other actors in the art and media world shape their knowledge, their agency, and their access to institutions, canons, and audiences? And v.v., the access audiences have to artists? What is the role of bodies? And can occupying a subaltern/oppressed position perhaps also carry intellectual or artistic advantages?
- How do the arts and the media represent men, women, and others? How do they invite audiences to imagine or picture people who are different from them? And what impact do other factors affecting someone's social position - e.g. physical make-up, racialisation, sexual behaviour, gender presentation, religion, or wealth - have on these representations?
- What do femininity and masculinity mean, for different people? How are anxieties and curiosities around these gender styles played out in the arts and media? And how are they taken up by audiences?
Addressing these and other questions, this course engages with texts, dramatic, musical and visual arts, temporary and permanent body modification, and cultural expressions in various other media, both high-brow and low-brow, down to everyday language use. We focus on western Europe and North America but include (with a little help from yourselves) also an ever-growing number of theories and case-studies from other regions, in order to reflect on some of the key cultural theories and debates surrounding the relationship between gender and the arts.
Knowledge from the ACS/ACW course Cultural Theory or from the Faculty-wide Gender Minor Theme Course will be assumed in this course. If you have not completed either course before beginning Gender and the Arts, it is recommended that you read a short introduction to critical theory; for instance one of the following very interesting, short and affordable books:
- Catherine Belsey. Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford UP, 2002. ISBN: 9780192801807.
- OR Jonathan Culler. Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction (Second Edition). Oxford UP, 2011. ISBN: 9780199691340.
- OR Robert J.C. Young. Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction (Second Edition). Oxford UP, 2020. ISBN: 9780198856832.
- OR Stuart Sim and Boris Van Loon. Introducing Critical Theory. Icon Books, 2004.
Although this course is categorised as 'lecture'/'hoorcollege', the work in our classroom will consist largely in larger- and smaller-group discussions.|