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Art History 245S: Women in Visual Arts

Your Librarian

Laura Micham, Director, Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture and curator, Gender and Sexuality History Collections, Rubenstein Library (

Brief Overview


This session explores the roles women have played as art makers from the Early Modern period through the early 20th century. It also considers issues of gender, of race, and of masculinity as well as femininity. The focus will be on visual representations as well as period writing of and by women.

In this session, students will explore a range of artistic expression, mostly from the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, such as engravings, illustrations, bindings, and illuminations.

The Lisa Unger Baskin Collection is an extensive body of material documenting women at work, including many well-known monuments of women’s history and arts, as well as lesser-known works produced by scholars, printers, publishers, laborers, scientists, authors, artists, and political activists.


Learning Objectives

During this session, you will:

  • Identify and analyze a variety of works by women artists.
  • Practice textual and visual analysis of books, manuscripts, and artifacts.
  • Analyze the ways that women have explored the artistic, personal, and political dimensions of art making.


Image: Isotta Nogarola, humanist, 1418-1466, from Jacopo Philippo Bergomensis' De Claris Mulieribus, 1497,  Lisa Unger Baskin Collection

How We Teach and Learn

How We Teach and Learn

Explore and be curious! Our class sessions are interactive, hands-on opportunities to look at different kinds of materials. Challenge yourself to look (even briefly) at items that don’t initially catch your interest--you might be surprised at what you discover.

Our class sessions seek to be inclusive, offering multiple perspectives, viewpoints, or lived experiences, but may not include every voice for a number of reasons, including bias in collecting practices. Let’s talk about the voices that aren’t represented and why.

The background, experience, and knowledge you bring to this class session are valuable. There isn’t one right interpretation of a historical document. Please listen carefully and engage with everyone's responses respectfully.

The material you encounter in this session has the potential to be uncomfortable or upsetting. Be kind to yourself and recognize your limits. You can look at something else or take a break.

When working with primary sources, you may encounter racist, oppressive, or outdated language in the documents themselves or in the descriptions created by library workers. When we discuss these items, we will want to use terms that reflect the ways that people and communities describe themselves today.