Leslie, Sarah-Jane. Carving up the Social World with Generics
Summary (Diversifying Syllabi): Leslie argues that generic language has an effect on social cognition. Specifically, generic language plays a role in the way small children develop concepts related to abilities, which facilitates the transmission and development of social prejudices.
Comment: This text can support classes on social cognition, the social nature of language, and essentialism (including social and psychological essentialism). It will also serve well as an introduction to generics in philosophy of language. In philosophy of gender and race classes it can offers a good illustration of how stereotypes are created.
Okin, Susan Moller. Justice, gender, and the family
Publisher: In the first feminist critique of modern political theory, Okin shows how the failure to apply theories of justice to the family not only undermines our most cherished democratic values but has led to a major crisis over gender-related issues.
Comment: This book offers a feminist discussion of various theories of justice, arguing that they should include a more comprehensive account on issues related to the formation and functioning of families. In teaching, it is particularly useful as a critique of Rawls' theory.
Steinbock, Eliza. Generative Negatives: Del LaGrace Volcano’s Herm Body Photographs
Summary: In conventional film photography, negatives are used in the darkroom to produce positive images, but in the outmoded medium Polaroid 665 the positive image is used to make a unique negative that can then be employed to make positive prints in the future. This generativity of the Polaroid 665 negative is used by the artist to mirror the complexity of feelings regarding intersex bodies. The series shows how negative affect can be productive and political, even when it appears to suspend agency.
Comment: Useful in discussing portraiture and depiction, as well as empowerment and art's role in power relations in general.
Artworks to use with this text:
Del LaGrace Volcano, Herm Body (2011- )
Self-portraits which clearly reference the work of John Coplans and reflect on Volcano’s midlife embodiment changed by hormones, age, and weight. The title draws attention to the materiality of its subject, insisting that we receive the body as ‘herm’ – a word Volcano uses to name intersex history and claim trans embodiment.
West, Shearer. Gender and Portraiture
Summary: The gender of both artist and sitter needs to be taken into account when considering the history of portraiture. Explores how and why women were often portrayed in certain roles (as goddesses, historical or religious figures, allegorical embodiments of abstract notions). Discusses why many women artists before the 20th century were portraitists and considers a few examples. Also highlights changing notions of masculinity in portraiture.
Comment: Useful in aesthetics classes discussing portraiture, depiction and representation, as well as philosophy of gender classes discussing representations of women.
Artworks to use with this text:
Lotte Laserstein, Self-Portrait with Cat (1928) vs Otto Dix, Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia von Harden (1926)
Both portraits were painted in 1920s Germany by artists linked to the New Objectivity art movement. Still, there is a notable difference between the 'objective' view of the male artist and the subjective self-image of the woman artist.
Elizabeth Siddal, Self-Portrait (1854)
There's a marked contrast between the unhappiness and fatigue visible in this self-portrait and the beauty and eroticism in Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Beata Beatrix (c.1862) in which he transfers the ideal qualities of Dante's Beatrice into the real portrait of Siddal.
Artemisia Gentileschi, Self-Portrait as "La Pittura" (c. 1630)
It could be said that the artist is complicit in the tendency of portraitists to generalize their women subjects as she embodied herself as the allegory of Painting. Nevertheless, Artemisia does not show herself in an idealized way and by self-consciously manipulating a set of conventions makes a unique contribution to the corpus of self-portraiture.