Gender Studies | Themes in the Study of Gender: Framing Gender: Photography, Film and the Body
G205 | 12138 | Lane, Bradley


Not just an object of visual delight or erotic pleasure, the body is
a site of complex relationships between gender, politics, race, and
history. New theories from postmodernism, feminism, and queer theory
insist that the representation of the body in the visual arts is
central to society’s construction not only of norms of sexual
behavior but of power relationships in general. This course asks
how, and by what means, the body is represented in contemporary
visual culture through sustained attention to the histories of
photography and film, as well as to feminist and queer theories of
embodiment and representation.

Photography and film have been the most widespread means of visual
communication of the past century and a half, and have done more
than any other mediums to shape our notions of the body in modern
times. Framing Gender investigates how photographic and
cinematographic representations of the body shape and reflect not
only obvious issues of personal identity, race, sexuality, and
gender, but also issues of power, ideology, and politics.

We will explore the gender and sexualized representations of the
body in a variety of photographic and cinematographic contexts —
traditions of portraiture; early “scientific” human motion studies;
ethnographic photographs of “primitive” people; surveillance footage
of nineteenth century criminals and psychiatric patients; horror
films; melodramas; and historical and contemporary pornography and
erotica. Artists considered will from historical figures attentive
to issues of gender, sexuality, and identity to contemporary artists
in the 21st century-- Edward Weston, Diane Arbus, Cindy Sherman, Nan
Golden, Andy Warhol, Sally Potter, Barbara Hammer, Larry Clark, and
John Cameron Mitchell are representative examples. Along the way,
the work of feminist and queer cultural producers and critics (Audre
Lorde, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Susan Bordo, bell hooks, Donna Haraway,
Judith Butler, Linda Williams, for example) will serve as
theoretical foundation for our visual inquiry.

Notes: At times, this course explores issues of a strong sexual
nature. Prospective students should make themselves aware of their
own comfort with sexually explicit material and decide if such a
course is appropriate for them.