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Art History 245S: Women in Visual Arts


Ros Rosarum


  • Divide into pairs or small groups. Within those groups, you can designate one person as the notetaker, one person as the timekeeper, and one person as the reporter.
  • Explore 2 or 3 of the items displayed on the tables.
  • Browse through at least one item for about 10 minutes making notes (including page numbers!) of anything that interests or puzzles you. Use the questions in the other box on this page (and in the handout) to engage with your item.
  • Share observations with your group, for about 10 minutes.
    • To start, the timekeeper will give each group member about one minute to share their observations with the rest of the group.
    • With the remaining time, work together to answer the discussion questions (see below).  


Image: E. V. B. (Eleanor Vere Boyle) , Ros Rosarum: Ex Horto Poet, London: Elliot Stock, 1885. (Rosamond Philpott, binder), Lisa Unger Baskin Collection

Questions to Discuss in Small Groups

We offer these questions as guidance; you may notice and investigate other details about your item, and that's great! You'll be sharing your thoughts about these questions or your own observations with your small group in the next step of this activity, so you may want to take notes.

  1. What is the item you are looking at? List one textual, physical, and visual characteristic of your source. For example, is it published or written by hand? Can you tell what it's made out of (paper, metal, cloth, other material/s)? How are colors used? Is there anything you can learn about this object based on its physical characteristics?
  2. Who created the source you’re looking at, when was it created and why do you think it was created? Is there a specific point the creator was trying to make or message she was trying to send?

  3. What sort of information can your source provide about women working in visual arts or about the country and time in which it was created? Whether you have chosen an image, an object, or a manuscript consider what it tells about the woman artist who produced it. Do artists produce similar items today? If so, can you give some examples?

  4. Do different items share the same themes through different media? Are some items more powerful in conveying some meanings than others? if so, why?

  5. Based on the source you are analyzing, what would you tell a friend about the history of the women in visual arts?

  6. A single primary source sometimes raises more questions than it answers. What questions do you still have about the source you reviewed?