The Expanding Discourse: Feminism and Art History

The Expanding Discourse: Feminism and Art History

The Expanding Discourse: Feminism and Art History

The Expanding Discourse: Feminism and Art History

Synopsis

A sequel to the pioneering volume, Feminism and Art History: Questioning the Litany, published in 1982, The Expanding Discourse contains 29 essays on artists and issues from the Renaissance to the present, representing some of the best feminist art-historical writing of the past decade. Chronologically arranged, the essays demonstrate the abundance, diversity, and main conceptual trends in recent feminist scholarship.

Excerpt

The twenty-nine essays assembled in this volume represent what is to our minds some—though certainly not all—of the best feminist art-historical writing of the last decade. In gathering materials for our first volume in 1981, we found ourselves literally working to define a new genre of art‐ historical investigation, one that was distinguished more by an attitude than by a methodology, and which had not yet been given a name or a clear identity. Our selections came from a wide array of sources: some were conference papers; a few came from the ground-breaking, now defunct Feminist Art Journal; others were unpublished. A surprising number of pieces came from published books and from mainstream journals such as The Art Bulletin, and many of these had not been written from a self-consciously feminist point of view. We pulled these disparate contributions—on topics and periods ranging from prehistory to the twentieth century—together into a new whole, to demonstrate the possibility of a continuous feminist perspective on art history in every cultural period.

A decade later, our task was entirely different. We were confronted by a rich harvest of scholarship in art history, nourished by new theoretical and critical perspectives and by the new interdisciplinary fields of "women's studies" and "gender studies." The problem now was what to select from that wealth of publications that might best represent its abundance, diversity, and main conceptual threads. One of our earliest decisions was to limit the scope of this volume to the period from the Renaissance to the present, since much of the work done by feminist art historians in the last decade has focused on this time span. We felt that the connections among the essays, as well as the usefulness of the book, would be strengthened by this chronological focus. And considering the plethora of examples of feminist art-historical scholarship in articles and essays, we also decided not to include any excerpts from books, nor examples of feminist art criticism. By now, these are exemplary categories in their own right. The former is represented, for example, by such publications as Whitney Chadwick, Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement (Thames and Hudson, 1985 and 1991); Lisa Tickner, The Spectacle of Women: Imagery of the Suffrage Campaign, 1907-14 (University of Chicago Press, 1988); Gloria Feman Orenstein, The Reflowering of the Goddess (Pergamon Press, 1990), and H. Diane Russell, Eva/Ave: Women in Renaissance and Baroque Prints (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1990, and The Feminist Press . . .

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