Art in Women and Gender Studies


  • Katy Deepwell



In this talk, I want to examine the place of art in women and gender studies, and how these areas draw upon the interdisciplinary promise of feminist theory when considering cultural production. Art history has been part of women’s studies and the work of women artists is studied, but in the pre-dominant switch to gender, sexuality and representation in course structures, I want to draw attention to areas of enquiry that are missing from debates about feminisms in relation to contemporary art. I will refer back to different understandings of the role of art within the women’s movement in the 1970s and to the situation of women artists in the art world then and now which are contributing to this situation. Artists and artworks have produced a visual language for feminist protest and produced works which are strongly issue-based and politically engaged with regard to feminist issues, but visual art itself is marginal in most women and gender studies by comparison with research on mass media, film and literature. Studying gender, sexuality and representation (the dominant course, where feminism appears in arts curricula and visual arts in gender studies), art emerges again as a key area of interest, but this provides a very specific focus on certain types of visual representation and I will argue, as a result, other formulations of the relations between aesthetics and politics are not at the centre of these debates.


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Author Biography

Katy Deepwell

Katy Deepwell is founder and editor of n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal (40 vols.,1998-2017) and Professor of Contemporary Art, Theory and Criticism at Middlesex University. She is the editor of the Feminist-Art-Observatory at KT press ( and author of n.paradoxa's MOOC, a mass open online course on contemporary art and feminism ( Her books include: (ed) Feminist Art Activisms and Artivisms (Valiz, 2020), All-Women Art Spaces in Europe in the Long 1970s with Agata Jakubowska, eds. (Liverpool University Press, 2017), Feminist Art Manifestos: An Anthology (KT press, 2014), Women Artists between the Wars (Manchester University Press, 2010), Women Artists and Modernism (MUP, 1998) and New Feminist Art Criticism: Critical Strategies (MUP, 1995).

Read the interview Kaja Nan Gjelde-Benn conducted in advance of the conference with keynote speaker Katy Deepwell here.



How to Cite

Deepwell, K. (2019). Art in Women and Gender Studies. Septentrio Conference Series, (3).