Introduction to Women’s Studies: Women, Art & Culture (Summer 2011)

Dr. Tara Rodgers, Women’s Studies, University of Maryland

This six-week course is an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of women’s studies, especially in the humanities and the arts. It develops skills in analyzing and critiquing cultural texts, particularly their representations of women and their assumptions about gender, race, sexuality, and other forms of social difference. It also introduces cultural productions by a range of women artists working in various mediums, genres, and historical eras. Examples for discussion and analysis are drawn from such creative realms as poetry, visual art, performance art, music, zines, and digital media. Assignments are distributed on ELMS/Blackboard; this website archives some of the art and ideas we engage in the course.

Week 1, Session 1: Introductions

Week 1, Session 2: Feminisms; Representation

hooks, bell. “Feminism: A Movement to End Sexist Oppression,” in Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives, 2nd ed., edited by S-K Kim & C. R. McCann (New York: Routledge, 2010), pp. 51-57.

Grewal, Inderpal, and Caren Kaplan, Introduction to Part 3: Representations, Cultures, Media, and Markets; John Berger, Excerpts from Ways of Seeing, and Catherine King, “Making Things Mean: Cultural Representation in Objects,” in Grewal and Kaplan, An Introduction to Women’s Studies: Gender in a Transnational World, 2nd ed. (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2006), pp. 265-75.

Excerpt from documentary I Was a Teenage Feminist (dir. Therese Schecter, 2005):

The Bechdel Test for Women in the Movies (from Alison Bechdel)

Week 2, Session 1: Feminist Poetry; Silence and Voice

Reed, T.V. “The Poetical is the Political: Feminist Poetry and the Poetics of Women’s Rights,” in Kim and McCann, Feminist Theory Reader, pp. 92-105.

hooks, bell. “Talking Back,” Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (Boston: South End Press, 1989), pp. 5-9.

Lorde, Audre. “Poetry is Not a Luxury,” “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action,” “Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference,” Sister Outsider (Berkeley: Crossing Press, 2007), pp. 36-39, 40-45, 114-23.

Rich, Adrienne. “Why I Refused the National Medal for the Arts,” Arts of the Possible (New York: W.W. Norton, 2002), pp. 98-105.

Selections from Moraga, Cherrie, and Gloria E. Anzaldua (editors), This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (Berkeley: Third Woman Press, 2002).

Selections from DeRango-Adem, Adebe, and Andrea Thompson (editors), Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out (Toronto: INANNA, 2010).

A Litany for Survival (Audre Lorde documentary trailer, 1995)

Read about:
bell hooks
Adrienne Rich
Audre Lorde
Kate Rushin
and This Bridge Called My Back on Wikipedia and RaceTalk
The Bridge Poem” by Kate Rushin
Who Said it Was Simple” by Audre Lorde

Week 2, Session 2: Feminist Approaches to Art History; Collaborations

Piper, Adrian. “The Triple Negation of Colored Women Artists,” in The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader, edited by A. Jones (London: Routledge, 2003), pp. 239-48.

Schor, Mira. “Patrilineage,” in Jones, The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader, pp. 249-56.

Stein, Judith E. “Collaboration,” in The Power of Feminist Art, edited by N. Broude and M. D. Garrard (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1996), pp. 226-43.

Broude, Norma, and Mary D. Garrard. “Conversation with Judy Chicago,” in The Power of Feminist Art, 66-73.

Look through online exhibit of Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party” at the Brooklyn Museum
Visit the museum’s Feminist Timeline, for additional context
Read about “The Dinner Party” at Through the Flower (Judy Chicago’s non-profit organization)

Judy Chicago on feminist art, SFMOMA (2010)

Faith Ringgold: Quilting as an art form (2010); also check out Ringgold’s website

Week 3, Session 1: Performance Art; Activism

Wark, Jayne. “The Origins of Feminist Art,” Chap. 2 in Radical Gestures: Feminism and Performance Art in North America (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2006), pp. 27-57.

Lustig, Suzanne. “How and Why Did the Guerrilla Girls Alter the Art World Establishment in New York City, 1985-1995?,” and Pollack, Griselda. “Women and Art History,” pp. 276-281 in Grewal and Kaplan, An Introduction to Women’s Studies.

The Guerrilla Girls, Excerpts from The Guerrilla Girls’ Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art (New York: Penguin Books, 1998).

Yoko Ono “Cut Piece” (1965/2010)

Yoko Ono: Auto Interview (1989)

Maura Reilly interviews Carolee Schneeman (2009)

Guerrilla Girls at the Brooklyn Museum (2008)

Guerrilla Girls at the Brooklyn Museum (2007)

The Radical Cheerleaders (2007?)

Le Tigre: Hot Topic (Video by Wynne Greenwood, 2009)

Week 3, Session 2: Contemporary Art Curation

Reilly, Maura. “Introduction: Toward Transnational Feminisms,” in Global Feminisms: New Directions in Contemporary Art, edited by M. Reilly and L. Nochlin (London: Merrell; Brooklyn Museum of Art, 2007), pp. 15-45.

Listen to these and other artist talks from the Global Feminisms exhibition, Brooklyn Museum (2007):

Also check out the website and PBS documentary on Carrie Mae Weems

And explore the online archive of Studio XX, the bilingual feminist artist-run-centre for technological exploration, creation and critique in Montreal.

Week 4, Session 1: Zines; Riot Grrrl

Piepmeier, Alison. “‘We Are Not All One’: Intersectional Identities in Grrrl Zines,” Chap. 4 in Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism (New York: NYU Press, 2009), pp. 123-54.

Marcus, Sara. Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution (New York: Harper Perennial, 2010) – excerpts TBA.

Related resources:
Sallie Bingham Center zine collection at Duke University
“My Life in Zines” audio interview
NPR story on Sassy magazine

Bikini Kill: Rebel Rirl (1992)

Bramobile live (1993)

Sadie Benning: Jollies (1994); more info here

Read the NPR blog on Poly Styrene; and Kathleen Hanna’s tribute

Week 4, Session 2: Technologies and Embodiment

Bayton, Mavis. “Women and the Electric Guitar,” in Whiteley, Sexing the Groove, pp. 37-49.

Wald, Gayle F. “She Made That Guitar Talk,” and “The Men Would Stand Back,” Shout, Sister, Shout! The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe (Boston: Beacon Press, 2007), pp. 71-73, 151-55.

FILM: The Godmother of Rock & Roll: Sister Rosetta Tharpe (BBC documentary, 60 min.)

International Sweethearts of Rhythm (1946)

The Girls in the Band (documentary excerpt)

NPR report: “America’s ‘Sweethearts’: An All-Girl Band the Broke Racial Boundaries” (~8 min)

NPR report: “Women In Jazz: Taking Back All-Female Ensembles” (~6 min):

NPR discussion (2010): “Nine Women In The Room: A Jazz Musicians’ Roundtable

Mary Lou Williams on piano (1980)

Mary Lou Williams interview (1976):

Week 5, Session 1: Feminist Practices of Listening; Song Lyrics & Politics

Aparicio, Frances. “Listening to the Listeners: An Introduction,” and Chap. 11: “Así Son: Constructing Woman,” Listening to Salsa: Gender, Latin Popular Music, and Puerto Rican Cultures (Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1998), pp. 187-218.

Davis, Angela Y. Blues Legacies and Black Feminism (New York: Vintage Books, 1998) – excerpts TBA.

Celia Cruz – Guantanamera

Celia Cruz online exhibition at the Smithsonian

Angela Davis lecture: How Does Change Happen? (UC Davis, 2007)

Billie Holiday (documentary excerpt):

Billie Holiday performing “Strange Fruit”:

Week 5, Session 2: Hip Hop

Perry, Imani. “B-Boys, Players, and Preachers: Reading Masculinity,” in Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip Hop (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004), pp. 117-54.

Rose, Tricia. “Bad Sistas: Black Women Rappers and Sexual Politics in Rap Music,” in Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1994), pp. 146-82.

Tricia Rose on hip hop images (2007)

bell hooks: cultural criticism (rap music) – (2006)

MC Lyte & Postive K: I’m Not Havin’ It (1989)

MC Lyte interview:

Queen Latifah: Ladies First (1989)

Sarah Jones: Your Revolution (2010?)

Keri Hilson: Pretty Girl Rock (2010)

NPR discussion: Ann Powers & Tavia Nyong’o: “Can Hip Hop Handle: I’m Gay?” (2011)

Week 6, Final Session: Cybercultures

Flanagan, Mary. “Hyperbodies, Hyperknowledge: Women in Games, Women in Cyberpunk, and Strategies of Resistance,” Chap. 22 in Reload: Rethinking Women + Cyberculture, edited by M. Flanagan and A. Booth (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002), pp. 425-54.

Gonzalez, Vernadette V., and Robyn Magalit Rodriguez. “ Wives, Workers, and Whores on the Cyberfrontier,” in Grewal and Kaplan, An Introduction to Women’s Studies, pp. 375-79.

Pilar, Praba. Excerpts from Cyberlabia and Computers Are a Girl’s Best Friend – performance activist project and book (Oakland: Tela Press, 2005), pp. 6-8, 12-17, 19-23.

Interview with Praba Pilar, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (2008)

Wynne Greenwood: Tracy & the Plastics (2004)

“Top 10 Video Game Women” (2006?)

Mary Flanagan: Games for Social Change (2008)

Events in the DC/MD area, for short essay assignment:

Women’s Spoken Word event at Capital Pride
June 6, 2011 7:30-9:00pm
Indulj, 1208 U Street, NW, Washington, DC
More info:

!W.A.R.: Woman Art Revolution, a documentary film by Lynn Hershman-Leeson
through June 9
West End Cinema, 23rd St, NW (between M and N)
More info:

The National Museum of Women in the Arts
1250 New York Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC
3 exhibits open on June 17: The Guerrilla Girls; painter Susan Swartz; women lithographers
More info:

Erin McHugh and Nan Buzard, “The L Life: Extraordinary Lesbians Making a Difference” – Author Event
Wed, June 15, 6:30-8:00pm
Busboys and Poets @ 14th & V, Langston Room
More info:

Live Performance by Joy Ike w/Special Guests Carsie Blanton & Dream Job
Thu, June 16, 9-11pm
Busboys & Poets, 14th & V, Langston Room
More info:

LOL! A decade of antic art
opening June 10
Contemporary Museum
100 W. Centre Street, Baltimore, MD