Sexing the Canvas: 10 Works in the NGV

Subject GEND20006 (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2013.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 1.5-hour lecture and a 1-hour tutorial per week.
Total Time Commitment:

Total expected time commitment is 102-hours across the semester, including class time.





Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Objectives, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry. It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and the Disability Liaison Unit:


Prof Jeanette Hoorn

Subject Overview:

This subject provides a broad introduction to gender issues in relation to art and the museum. It is structured around the art collection of the National Gallery of Victoria. Each week, for a period of 10 weeks, we will discuss a specific work from the NGV’s collection considering what insights a gender related analysis of it can provide. Two lectures will be delivered in front of the painting in situ at the gallery. You will be required to work from the painting of your choosing for the completion of your class paper and essay. The works will be drawn from a number of different periods and cultures. They will be studied in relation to both their production and their historical and contemporary reception. We will think, in particular, about how artworks either reinforce or subvert dominant beliefs about gender at specific historical moments. Themes including discourse, equality, ideology, and protest, will therefore be addressed. In the final weeks of the subject we will then turn to consider the NGV as a whole as a case study, analysing its curatorial strategies through the prism of gender. This will involve evaluating what messages about sexual difference the artworks currently on display potentially communicate when they are taken as an aggregate. It will also entail addressing how the works are conceptually framed by the information the gallery provides about them through audio-guides, catalogue entries, hanging, and labelling. The subject will conclude with a session in which a member of the curatorial staff from the NGV will discuss the sexual politics involved in museum display and practices. The subject will introduce you to key ideas from a number of thinkers including Judith Butler, Fiona Candlin, Hélène Cixous, Katy Deepwell, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Germaine Greer, Didier Maleuvre, Lynda Nead, Fred Orton, Griselda Pollock, and Lisa Tickner.


On completion of the subject students should have:

  • an understanding of key terms from gender-related theories of art history and museology;
  • the ability to demonstrate various ways in which ideas about gender theory can productively be employed in theorizing curatorial practices;
  • the skills and confidence to take the initiative in relating theoretical ideas covered in the subject to the display of art and visual cultures;
  • learnt how to organize material into coherent and convincing arguments in their written work;
  • the ability to foster close reading skills in relation to both texts and images.

Tutorial presentation equivalent to 15000 words done during the semester (40%) and an essay of 2500 words, due in the examination period (60%). This subject has a minimum hurdle requirement of 75% attendance and regular participation in tutorials. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day.

Prescribed Texts:

A Subject Reader will be available.

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who successfully complete this subject:

  • will learn to be skilled in critical thinking and analysis;
  • will cultivate oral and written communication skills;
  • will develop an understanding of cultural and social contexts;
  • will become skilled at managing time and resources effectively.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Gender Studies
Gender Studies
Gender Studies
Gender Studies Major

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