Second Annual Feminist Art History Conference: Nov. 4-6, 2011.

Katzen Arts Center, American University

Conference registration is open!

The Art History Program of American University (Department of Art, College of Arts and Sciences) announces the second annual Feminist Art History Conference which will take place from Friday, November 4 to Sunday, November 6, 2011. Corollary events begin on Friday afternoon (12:00-6:00 pm) at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC with a lunch, tour, and program in conjunction with the exhibition Gertrude Stein: Five Stories. Events continue on Friday evening at American University, with a reception and concert of choral music entitled “Gender Settings.” The conference sessions will take place on the American University (AU) campus in Northwest Washington, D.C. on Saturday (9:30 am to 5:30 pm) and Sunday (10:00 am until 12:30 pm).  The keynote address will be presented on Saturday evening at 7:00 pm, following a reception.

First Annual Feminist Art History Conference attendees enjoying the reception.

The second annual Feminist Art History Conference (FAHC) continues to explore the legacy of two pioneering feminist art historians, Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard, who are now professors emerita of art history at AU. This year’s conference had more than 90 proposal submissions and will include 51 papers in twelve sessions. The papers will span a broad range of topics and time periods, from the medieval era to contemporary art. Together they will demonstrate the myriad ways in which feminist research and interpretation have spread across the spectrum of art historical analysis and scholarship.

The keynote address will be presented by Mary D. Sheriff, W.R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Art History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her talk is entitled “The Future of Feminist Art History: Where Have We Come From, Where Are We Going?” In addition to her first book, Fragonard: Art and Eroticism (1990), Sheriff has published The Exceptional Woman: Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun and the Cultural Politics of Art (1997), Moved by Love: Inspired Artists and Deviant Women in Eighteenth Century France (2008), edited the anthology Cultural Contact and the Making of European Art Since the Age of Exploration (2010), and written numerous articles and reviews.  As a deeply engaged feminist art historian, Sheriff has motivated numerous graduate students at UNC-CH to develop feminist-focused dissertations and other research projects, and her publications have inspired feminist scholarship internationally.

First Annual Feminist Art History Conference attendees awaiting the start of a session.

At the first FAHC in 2010, participants found a lively forum in which to share views, debate issues, and network in an exciting synergy of feminist interchanges. The impressive number of proposals submitted for this second conference demonstrates the ongoing centrality of the issues raised by feminist art history—a testimony to the continuing vitality of research by feminist scholars developed over the past four decades.  Given that Washington, D.C., is becoming a center for the nexus of gender and art, with the AU Art History Program’s longstanding emphasis on feminist methodologies, and the active presence of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, conference planners hope that the annual Feminist Art History Conference at American University will function as a worthy successor to the Barnard College Feminist Art History Conference in New York, which was an important forum for feminist scholarship throughout the 1990s.

The conference is free and open to the public. Advance registration (before 5 pm EST, Friday, October 28) is recommended.  Please visit the conference web site for more detailed information.


Graduate Student Research: Catherine in Paris!

[written by second year M.A. student Catherine Southwick]

"La Commune: 1871, Paris Capitale Insurgée" exhibition at the Hôtel de Ville

Last spring, I was lucky enough to receive the first Patricia Moore Segnan Award for international research in art history. I used the award to travel to Paris in May and June to research my thesis on Impressionism and the Franco-Prussian War and Paris Commune, which I will be completing with Dr. Juliet Bellow. The timing was perfect, because the Hôtel de Ville had two relevant exhibitions, “Paris in the Time of the Impressionists” and “The Commune: 1871, Paris Insurrection.”  I also spent time at the Musée Carnavalet, or the Museum of the History of Paris, and the Impressionist galleries at the Musée d’Orsay.

"Paris Au Temps des Impressionistes" exhibition at the Hôtel de Ville

I made sure to plan my travel to arrive in time for the Commune exhibition, which closed at the end of May. The exhibition displayed historical material from the Commune, such as original posters, documents, etchings, and photographs. I’ve found that these kinds of objects are hard to find reproduced online or in books (and there was no exhibition catalogue for this show), so I photographed everything in order to refer to it again stateside.

Photo line-up of Communards (Commune participants) at the Hôtel de Ville exhibition

Another aspect of my Parisian research was visiting the original sites where Commune events occurred, and which are the settings for some of the Impressionist paintings I am researching. These included the Place de la Concorde and the Place Vendôme, as well as the Moulin de la Galette in the Montmartre neighborhood. Even though nearly 150 years have passed since these events took place, it was still helpful to see the sites in person.

Me at the original site of the Moulin de la Galette

I also took a side trip to Argenteuil to try to find the bridges Monet painted there. The bridges were destroyed in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War and were being rebuilt at the time he was painting. Needless to say, a lot has changed since he sat on the banks of the Seine.

Claude Monet, The Argenteuil Bridge (1874), Musée d'Orsay


Argenteuil bridge today. The beach is now a highway.






All in all, it was a very productive and a very fun trip. In the evenings, I took advantage of Paris’ late night museum hours at the Orsay, Louvre, and Museé du Quai Branly. Fellow students of Dr. Bellow’s Museums and Society course will understand why I had to see the Quai Branly, which we discussed in detail last semester.

Museé du Quai Branly

I am incredibly appreciative of Dr. Romeo Segnan for sponsoring this scholarship and to the American University art history faculty for selecting me! I will be spending this semester combining my travel experiences with other research to complete my MA thesis.