Rape/Culture: Sexual Violence and the Visual Arts, from Giambologna to Kara Walker (AH2405.01)

J. Vanessa Lyon

“Heroic rape” is no stranger to art history. Under this rubric, students have been introduced to the field and its concerns via crisp photographs of canonical works in which Roman foundation legends, etiological myths, and political absolutism are prescribed and perpetuated via the trope of (eroticized) sexual violence. The existence of a ‘rape culture’ in modern life in general and on college campuses in particular is surely related to the enduring use and aestheticization of sexual violence as a visceral metaphor for the exercise of (colonial, political, economic) power, control, and subjugation of ‘others.’ So what can we do about it? This course will analyze imagery of sexual violence in order to cultivate an empowered and emancipatory transfeminist mode of spectatorship—regardless of the student-beholder’s gender/s or sex. Mobilizing a “hermeneutics of suspicion,” we will interpret works by Rubens, Bernini, and Poussin, Rembrandt and Gentileschi, Goya and Hogarth, Picasso and Giacometti, as well as more recent art by Käthe Kollwitz, Frida Kahlo, Romare Bearden, Ana Mendieta, Kiki Smith, Kara Walker…and more.

Prerequisites: None.
Credits: 2
Th 10:10am - 12:00pm
Maximum Enrollment: 14
Course Frequency:
This course is categorized as All courses, Two Credit, 2000, Art History, J Vanessa Lyon.