Explore the Intersection of Art and Gender With These Online Courses

Do you love art history and gender studies but don’t have the time to go to school? Do you wish you could study from the comfort of your own home? If so, I’ve got an easy solution for you: online college-level courses! Regardless of whether you’re an art history buff or a curious individual looking for some fun knowledge, the two courses I’m about to show you are time-flexible, digestible and free. They do a fantastic job exploring the topics of art and gender. Let’s dive into them!

1. Sexing the Canvas: Art and Gender

If you take this course, one of the works you will deeply analyze will be the above: Tiepolo’s “The Banquet of Cleopatra,” his rendering of an assertive, powerful Cleopatra. Offered by the University of Melbourne through the online platform Coursera, this course looks critically at a diverse collection of artwork in some of the world’s top institutions. Taught by art historian and professor Jeanette Hoorn, you examine paintings from the “male gaze” and learn to discern subtle details in which the artist portrays constructs and conventions of the male and female gender. You also learn about different cultures and theories of gender that influenced art, as well as some other relevant themes such as Orientalism and the science of movement, all of which influence the artists’ depictions of men and women.

This nine-week (17-hour) course is a great introductory look at how art historians’ minds work and how they critically analyze works from the past. Overall, the course has a 4.6 out of five stars rating. One student proclaimed, “The professors… question the gender, the role of the woman, the role of the viewer etc. I really enjoyed this course and learned a lot about few artists I already knew something about, and about others, that I didn’t know at all…” However, there is some criticism. Some users remarked that the quizzes were too easy and that the material is basic, giving you a less-than-satisfactory experience. So overall, this class is good for people who seek an understandable, beginner-level yet intriguing course.

2. Visualising Women’s Work: Using Art Media for Social Justice

“Visualizing Women’s Work: Using Art Media for Social Justice,” or “VWW” for short, walks you through ways we can use public art to redress historical gender bias. This University of Michigan course, offered through the online learning platform FutureLearn lasts for just four weeks, so it is perfect for curious students with busy schedules. You dabble in everything from analyzing the significance of public monuments to creating your own art to critique using the visual literacy skills you develop (don’t worry—your art doesn’t have to be a masterpiece). This class, headed by artist and UMichigan lecturer Melanie Manos, is part of Manos’ bigger Visualising Women’s Work project intended to honor hidden women heroes of the world. You can click here to be taken to the VWW website, where you can submit the story of a woman you admire to their global map!

Something to note: you can get access to the course material for free. However, you have access for a limited time. To get unlimited access, as well as an official certificate of completion, you need to pay. The prices are generally lower than the cost of one college class; however, whether or not the certificate and added benefits are worth the extra money is up to you. I hope you enjoy these two classes!

Featured image credits: “The Banquet of Cleopatra” by lluisribesmateu1969 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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