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ARTH 641 Issues in Visual & Material Culture: Gender & Design

  • Tuesdays, 11:30-14:30
  • EV-3-760 SGW
  • Instructor: Dr. John Potvin

This seminar will explore various facets of and intersections between gender, sexuality and design history, focusing our lens more closely to the design of the interior. By exploring various design traditions in North America and Europe from the 20thcentury, the course will explore how certain objects and interior design have become gendered and even in certain cases attributed a sexual identity. Certain design professions have been heavily dominated by men, industrial design amongst these, while others like interior design has provided a significant entry point for women to enter into the professional realm. According to design historians Pat Kirkham and Penny Sparke, many ‘male decorators may have been considered effeminate by association with the feminized world of “lady decorators,” but they were never denigrated as were [Elsie] de Wolfe and Dorothy Draper’ (2000: 313).

The course will investigate some of the cultural assumptions at play both in terms of the history and historiography scholarship. Students will become familiar with the leading texts and scholars working in the field today which will inspire students to purse their own line of enquiry. 

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