Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Lady Lilith, 1867; at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
PRE-RAPHAELITE STUNNERS AND VICTORIAN FEMININITY
Prof. Susan Casteras
Office hours: Tuesdays 12:30 - 3:20 PM
External websites (research artists, images and more):
This seminar will focus on the topic of Victorian femininity, with a concentrations on numerous women who were artists, sitters, muses, and more in the Pre-Raphaelite circle. Some scholars have dubbed this group a "Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood" of sorts, and students will be encouraged to explore the lives and production of various women. One focal point will be the concept of the beauteous Pre-Raphaelite "stunner" as personified and enshrined in the works of male artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Individuals such as Elizabeth Siddal, Jane Burden Morris, Effie Millais, Annie Miller, Alexa Wilding, Fanny Cornforth, Annie Miller, Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale, Marie Spartali Stillman, Kate Bunce, Francesca Alexander, Evelyn Pickering de Morgan, Emma Sandys, Joanna Boyce Wells, Barbara Lee Smith Bodichon, Lucy Madox Brown, Rosa Brett, Julia Margaret Cameron, Christina Rossetti and others from the realm of literature are among the possible topics. An analysis of the main tropes of Victorian femininity in paintings and the visual real -- e.g., lady, girl, artist, fallen woman, sempstress, etc. -- will also be provided, in part to investigate how some roles, images, and individuals complied with or challenged prevailing norms of Victorian womanhood.
Students from non-art history background are welcome. Assignments for undergrads (longer for grad students) include a short (3-4 pp. double-spaced) paper on a single object representing some aspect of Victorian womanhood and a longer paper (8-10 double-spaced pages) and class presentation on a specific woman chosen by each class member. For the latter, students will select an individual woman and do specific research on her and her portrayal and/or art works within Pre-Raphaelite and Victorian contexts.