Margaret R. Miles: Carnal Knowing: Female Nakedness and Religious Meaning in the Christian West

An exploration of the power of visual and verbal representations of female nakedness throughout Western Christian history. Margaret Miles looks at how men have treated women's bodies – in their actions, art and writings, and why, in Christian history, naked female bodies have symbolized shame.

Margaret R. Miles is Emeritus Professor of Historical Theology at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. As Bussey Professor of Theology, she taught the history of Christian thought for 20 years at Harvard University Divinity School. Her previous books include Plotinus on Body and Beauty (Blackwell, 1999), Reading for Life (1996), Seeing and Believing (1996), Desire and Delight (1993), Practicing Christianity (1988), Carnal Knowing (1988), Seeing and Believing (1996), and A Complex Delight (2007).

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Additional Resources:
Margaret R. Miles: Religion and the Common Good (lecture)
Living Lovingly in a Culture of Fear (Lecture)
Gender and Teaching in Education (Essay)

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Bram Dijkstra: Idols of Perversity, Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-De-Siecle Culture

At the turn of the century, an unprecedented attack on women erupted in virtually every aspect of culture: literary, artistic, scientific, and philosophic. Throughout Europe and America, artists and intellectuals banded together to portray women as static and unindividuated beings who functioned solely in a sexual and reproductive capacity, thus formulating many of the anti-feminine platitudes that today still constrain women’s potential.
Bram Dijkstra’s Idols of Perversity explores the nature and development of turn-of-the-century misogyny in the works of hundreds of writers, artists, and scientists, including Zola, Strindberg, Wedekind, Henry James, Rossetti, Renoir, Moreau, Klimt, Darwin, and Spencer. Dijkstra demonstrates that the most prejudicial aspects of Evolutionary Theory helped to justify this wave of anti-feminine sentiment. The theory claimed that the female of the species could not participate in the great evolutionary process that would guide the intellectual male to his ultimate, predestined role as a disembodied spiritual essence. Darwinists argued that women hindered this process by their willingness to lure men back to a sham paradise of erotic materialism. To protect the male’s continued evolution, artists and intellectuals produced a flood of pseudo-scientific tracts, novels, and paintings which warned the world’s males of the evils lying beneath the surface elegance of woman’s tempting skin.
Reproducing hundreds of pictures from the period and including in-depth discussions of such key works as Dracula and Venus in Furs, this fascinating book not only exposes the crucial links between misogyny then and now, but also connects it to the racism and anti-semitism that led to catastrophic genocidal delusions in the first half of the twentieth century. Crossing the conventional boundaries of art history, sociology, the history of scientific theory, and literary analysis, Dijkstra unveils a startling view of a grim and largely one-sided war on women still being fought today.

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Yoko Ono: Grapefruit


Grapefruit is an artist's book written by Yoko Ono, originally published in 1964. It has become famous as an early example of conceptual art, containing a series of "event scores" that replace the physical work of art -the traditional stock-in-trade of artists – with instructions that an individual may, or may not, wish to enact.

"Grapefruit is one of the monuments of conceptual art of the early 1960s. She has a lyrical, poetic dimension that sets her apart from the other conceptual artists. Her approach to art was only made acceptable when white men like Kosuth and Weiner came in and did virtually the same thing as Yoko, but made them respectable and collectible."
-David Bourdon

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Yoko Ono Reading From (Selection Of) Grapefruit

Griselda Pollock: Encounters in the Virtual Feminist Museum


In an innovative and experimental format, Griselda Pollock provides another new impetus in ways of thinking and writing about the visual arts. Neither cybernetic nor etherised, Encounters in the Virtual Feminist Museum is a poetic laboratory breaking the museuma??s rigid rules to create encounters with and between images by and about women as they engaged with and were defined by modernity. Tracking the complex relays between femininity, modernity and representation by means of a sequence of virtual exhibitions, this book reframes art in the twentieth century a??with women in mind.a?? Initially exploring how modernist women engaged creatively with the legacies of western arta??s prime representation of femininity a?? the nude female body a?? the book also contemplates the traumatic rupture scorched into the culture of the West by the Holocaust. What can be the function of art after the atrocity inflicted on bodies by Nazi terror and mass murder? What can feministtheory and aesthetic practice contribute to the debates about art after Auschwitz? In our era of Liquid Modernity with its dizzyingly accelerating pace of change, how can art making working with media such as painting and drawing call upon us to take time, and reclaim the meaning of time a?? times of making, times of viewing, times of thinking? Calling upon both the Freudian museum and Aby Warburga??s Memory Atlas as resources for feminist cultural analysis, this book is another major contribution to contemporary art history and cultural studies.

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Anne Truitt: Daybook: the Journal of an Artist


Renowned American artist Anne Truitt kept this illuminating and inspiring journal over a period of seven years, determined to come to terms with the forces that shaped her art and life. Her range of sensitivity—moral, intellectual, sensual, emotional, and spiritual— is remarkably broad. She recalls her childhood on the eastern shore of Maryland, her career change from psychology to art, and her path to a sculptural practice that would “set color free in three dimensions.” She reflects on the generous advice of other artists, watches her own daughters’ journey into motherhood, meditates on criticism and solitude, and struggles to find the way to express her vision. Resonant and true, encouraging and revelatory, Anne Truitt guides herself—and her readers—through a life in which domestic activities and the needs of children and friends are constantly juxtaposed against the world of color and abstract geometry to which she is drawn in her art.

Beautifully written and a rare window on the workings of a creative mind, Daybook showcases an extraordinary artist whose insights generously and succinctly illuminate the artistic process.

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Luce Irigaray: Speculum of the Other Woman


Speculum of the Other Woman by Luce Irigaray is incontestably one of the most important works in feminist theory to have been published in this generation. For the profession of psychoanalysis, Irigaray believes, female sexuality has remained a "dark continent," unfathomable and unapproachable; its nature can only be misunderstood by those who continue to regard women in masculine terms. In the first section of the book, "The Blind Spot of an Old Dream of Symmetry," Irigaray rereads Freud's essay "Femininity," and his other writings on women, bringing to the fore the masculine ideology implicit in psychoanalytic theory and in Western discourse in general: woman is defined as a disadvantaged man, a male construct with no status of her own.

In the last section, "Plato's Hystera," Irigaray reinterprets Plato's myth of the cave, of the womb, in an attempt to discover the origins of that ideology, to ascertain precisely the way in which metaphors were fathered that henceforth became vehicles of meaning, to trace how woman came to be excluded from the production of discourse. Between these two sections is "Speculum"–ten meditative, widely ranging, and freely associational essays, each concerned with an aspect of the history of Western philosophy in its relation to woman, in which Irigaray explores woman's essential difference from man.

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Interview: Of Relations and Rights
PDF: The Sex Which is Not One

Working With Luce Irigaray
About the Project (A Note from Luce Irigaray): Since 2003, I hold a seminar with researchers doing their PhD on my work. This way, they have the opportunity to receive personal teaching from me and to exchange ideas, methods and experiences between them.
The framework of the seminar is as follows: A group of fifteen researchers stay one week on the university campus. The timetable includes a presentation by each on the aspect of their PhD which most focuses on my work, a discussion of this presentation by the group, my comments and my answers to questions, and also sessions devoted to an explanation of some key words chosen by the participants. Personal meetings with me are organized on the last day.
The participants in the seminar have come from different regions of the world, they belong to different cultures, traditions and fields of research. In each of these fields, diverse domains, approaches and methods are represented. To date, the participants came from Australia, Vietnam, Korea, China, India, Sri Lanka, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, Latvia, Spain, Italy, Ireland and from various universities of the U.S.A. and the U.K.
This website intends to make known the work of young researchers who participated in the seminar through summaries of their research, news about the evolution of their career, and dialogues that they continue holding with me. It also aims at maintaining and developing the link among researchers of one year’s seminar and broadening it to every researcher who took part in the seminar.

Griselda Pollock: Differencing the Canon


In this book, art historian Griselda Pollock makes a compelling intervention into a debate at the very centre of feminist art history: should the traditional canon of the 'Old Masters' be rejected, replaced or reformed? What 'difference' can feminist 'interventions in art's histories' make? Should we simply reject the all-male succession of 'great artists' in favour of an all-woman litany of artistic heroines? Or should we displace present gender demarcations and allow the ambiguities and complexities of desire to shape our readings of art?
Differencing the Canon moves between feminist re-readings of the canonical modern masters – Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Manet – and the 'canonical' artists of feminist art history, Artemisia Gentileschi and Mary Cassatt. Pollock avoids both an unnuanced critique of masculine canons and an unquestioning celebration of women artists. She draws on psychoanalysis and deconstruction to examine the project of reading for 'inscriptions in the feminine', and asks what the signs of difference might be in art made by an artist who is 'a woman'.

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Others Writings by Griselda Pollock
PDF: Visions & Differences
PDF: Modernity and the Spaces of Femininity

Via MOMA: The Feminist Future: Griselda Pollock (Panel Discussion)
Via YouTube:Griselda Pollock Lecture Series and Practitioner in Residence at Camberwell College of Arts
Via YouTube: Griselda Pollock Lecture: Time, Space and the Archive

bell hooks: Teaching to Transgress

Cultural theorist hooks means to challenge preconceptions, and it is a rare reader who will be able to walk away from her without considerable thought. Despite the frequent appearance of the dry word “pedagogy,” this collection of essays about teaching is anything but dull or detached. hooks begins her meditations on class, gender and race in the classroom with the confession that she never wanted to teach. By combining personal narrative, essay, critical theory, dialogue and a fantasy interview with herself (the latter artificial construct being the least successful), hooks declares that education today is failing students by refusing to acknowledge their particular histories. Criticizing the teaching establishment for employing an over-factualized knowledge to deny and suppress diversity, hooks accuses colleagues of using “the classroom to enact rituals of control that were about domination and the unjust exercise of power.” Far from a castigation of her field, however, Teaching to Transgress is full of hope and excitement for the possibility of education to liberate and include. She is a gentle, though firm, critic, as in the essay “Holding My Sister’s Hand,” which could well become a classic about the distrust between black and white feminists. While some will find her rejection of certain difficult theory narrow-minded, it is a small flaw in an inspired and thought-provoking collection.

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Via YouTube: Lectures and Panel Discussions
bell hooks Institute

Craig Owens: Beyond Recognition


Perhaps more than any other recent writer, Craig Owens explored the relations among the discourses of contemporary art, sexuality, and power. His familiarity with the New York art world and its practitioners in the 1970's and 1980's makes his writing an unparalleled guide to one of the most riveting periods of contemporary culture. (From Amazon)

Craig Owens (1950-1990) was a critic who wrote and lectured extensively on contemporary art. He showed particular interest in the issues of photography, postmodernism, feminism, and Marxist thought. A former associate editor for October and Craig Owens (1950-1990) was a critic who wrote and lectured extensively on contemporary art. He showed particular interest in the issues of photography, postmodernism, feminism, and Marxist thought. A former associate editor for October and senior editor for Art in America, as well as professor of art history at Yale University and Barnard College, his writings were collected in Beyond Recognition: Representation, Power, and Culture (1994). Owens died of an AIDS-related illness in 1990.

“I’m arguing for an art that is culturally relevant. I’m arguing for an art that does not remain content to address the problems of 19th Century society. I expect art to mediate my cultural experience,” Owens says in this interview with Lyn Blumenthal.

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