The Visual Effects of the American Women’s Health Movement Since 1970
The Anhoek School, Austin, Texas
(with Fluent~Collaborative and the UT Gender Symposium)
Experimental Graduate-Level Education for Women
Instructors: Katie Anania and Mary Walling Blackburn
Dates: January 4-22, 2010
Time: Mondays and Wednesdays 6-8 pm, Saturdays 2-4 pm
homebirth footage* health manuals* sex education films* gynecological self-exam diagrams* contemporary female surgery advertisements* contemporary vaginas.
Course description: Throughout the 1970s, the women’s health volume Our Bodies, Ourselves was a staple in counter-culture households throughout the United States. It included a photo of a woman with a mirror between her legs and a text urging the naked woman to know herself and love what she saw. Last spring, Apexart gallery advertised a lecture on “The Designer Vagina,” in which a surgeon discussed the rise and proportion of vaginal cosmetic surgery. These striking shifts in perception from the 1970s to the 2000s indicate the fundamental instability of readings of the vagina. The consequences of imagining the vagina as an object (whether of contemplation, admiration, or improvement) have ranged in scope and invite a more unruly reading and/or experience of the vagina as subject. (Perhaps also as site?)
Through a series of readings, image analyses, lectures, and art projects, together we will engineer a constellation of “object lessons” in contemporary anatomy. We hope for a survey that forages for comparative analysis amongst the remains of a movement subsided. This class will examine changes in perception over time as well as generate images (by borrowing, copying, or independently producing) to provoke a more complicated framing of female genitalia. We hope to move beyond gender and also include genitals that are in the process of “becoming.”
Each class will be thematically organized around the vagina conceptualized as one of the following: Subject, Object, Site/Specimen, Stranger, Animal, Flower and Volcano, Cannibal and Meal, Ghost/Zombie/Shape-shifter.
Readings: Excerpts from Jean Luc Nancy’s “Roundtable Discussion on Love and Community” and essay “The Stranger;” Ina May Lee’s Spiritual Midwifery; Femalia; “The Wandering Vagina” (Mehinaku); Heresies; Our Bodies, Ourselves; “The Cannibal Manifesto;” Catherine Clemente’s Syncope: The Philosophy of Rapture; personal sex manuals; life drawing manuals; contemporary health pamphlets; transsexual photo blogs.