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Interesting Lectures and Seminars

Gender and Image
-Challenging Stereotypes-

Ms. Riho Miyamoto
School of Letters, Arts and Sciences I (Graduated in March 2009)

In this course, a theme from art is selected and considered in each class. Although the selected material varies greatly, a common theme of each class is that the works are considered using a gender-based perspective.

What is the meaning of incorporating a gender-based perspective into art history? I encountered this question countless times since beginning my research from my 2nd year at university. For example, Tiziano's Venus of Urbino (1538) is considered a masterpiece in the genre of female nudes.

However, I am unable to unreservedly accept this work as the "ideal female image." It is impossible for me to accept the image of a woman openly displaying her body in broad daylight as natural. This feeling of discomfort was the starting point for my studies in gender-based art history.

When studying art history, the flow of events must be memorized to a certain extent. However, within history, there is also the existence of certain individuals who were instrumental in forming history. Often, these individuals reconstruct history by replacing reality with subjectively selected elements.

Most often replaced is the reality of the existence and perspective of women. Susan G. Pollock, who contributed greatly to feminist art history, once described the act of reexamining art using a gender-based perspective as "a political challenge to current scholarly principles."

Last October, a lecture was given at Building No. 36 of the Toyama Campus by Linda Nochlin, the foremost figure in gender-based art history studies. In her lecture, Ms. Nochlin made the following statement: "Feminism is nothing more than a single method of scholarship. What is truly important is that we continue to hold a political perspective."

I am greatly stimulated every week by the classes of this course. However, in no way do I intend to pursue women's rights or to denounce men. Simply put, I wish to question stereotypes. I want to be conscious of individuals who were instrumental in constructing ideologies. In this respect, gender is truly a method of scholarship for me.

This course can be taken by 1st and 2nd year students. In addition to art history students, I hope that many different people will take the course. The ability to question and rethink stereotypes is essential for living.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)