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Semester 1

Sexual Politics and the Image (HIAR10066)


History of Art





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This course cannot be taken alongside History of Art 2A or 2B. Visiting students must have completed at least 3 History of Art courses at grade B or above; we will only consider University/College level courses. **Please note that History of Art courses have extremely limited spaces available, and are very popular, so students cannot be guaranteed a space in any History of Art course.** These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the History of Art department directly to request additional spaces.

Course Summary

This course looks at how sexual politics is implicated in the production and reception of images in art and related visual fields. Encountered in feminist criticism since the 1960s, the term 'sexual politics' has revolutionised approaches to the image in art history (and the humanities at large) as it allows us to think of sex and gender in relation to frameworks of power that can, and should, be negotiated in the public domain. A focus on 'sexual politics' helps illuminate how images play a role in the social demand for gender equality and the exploration of sexual difference. The deployment of the word 'politics' in this context suggests that the interests of diverse and unequal social groups are expressed in the image, which can therefore never be 'neutral' and autonomous from social processes - even if it appears so. On the contrary, both making and looking at images should be understood as social practices. Drawing on groundbreaking feminist theory, the course examines a variety of practices since the 1960s that have defined the expanded field of the visual, and artistic practice in general. Key moments in this review may include: the connection between gendered identities in real life and spaces of representation; the intersection of gender, race and class; sexual politics and curatorial practices; the impact of feminism on art history as a discipline; the emergence of performance and video and their impact on challenging mainstream attitudes; the significance of feminist film theory; post-feminist approaches to the sexed subject; gender in relation to technology; social reproduction, biopolitics and the socio-economic processes known as 'globalisation'.

Course Description

Assessment Information

Written Exam 50%, Coursework 50%, Practical Exam 0%

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