Second Annual Feminist Art History Conference
The second annual Feminist Art History Conference took place November 4-6, 2011. Corollary events begin on Friday afternoon at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC with a lunch, tour, and program in conjunction with the exhibition Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories. Events continue on Friday evening at American University, with a reception and concert of choral music entitled "Gender Settings." The conference sessions will took place on the American University campus on Saturday and Sunday. The keynote address was presented on Saturday evening at 7:00 pm, followed by a reception.
This second annual Feminist Art History Conference (FAHC) continued to explore the legacy of two pioneering feminist art historians, Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard, who are now professors emerita of art history at AU. The conference had more than 90 proposal submissions and included 51 papers in twelve sessions. The papers spaned a broad range of topics and time periods, from the medieval era to contemporary art. Together they demonstrated the myriad ways in which feminist research and interpretation have spread across the spectrum of art historical analysis and scholarship.
The keynote address was presented by Mary D. Sheriff, W.R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Art History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her talk was entitled "The Future of Feminist Art History: Where Have We Come From, Where Are We Going?" In addition to her first book, Fragonard: Art and Eroticism (1990), Sheriff has published The Exceptional Woman: Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun and the Cultural Politics of Art (1997), Moved by Love: Inspired Artists and Deviant Women in Eighteenth Century France (2008), edited the anthology Cultural Contact and the Making of European Art Since the Age of Exploration (2010), and written numerous articles and reviews. As a deeply engaged feminist art historian, Sheriff has motivated numerous graduate students at UNC-CH to develop feminist-focused dissertations and other research projects, and her publications have inspired feminist scholarship internationally.
Participants found a lively forum in which to share views, debate issues, and network in an exciting synergy of feminist interchanges. The impressive number of proposals submitted for this second conference demonstrates the ongoing centrality of the issues raised by feminist art history—a testimony to the continuing vitality of research by feminist scholars developed over the past four decades. Given that Washington, DC, is becoming a center for the nexus of gender and art, with the AU Art History Program's longstanding emphasis on feminist methodologies, and the active presence of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, conference planners hope that the annual Feminist Art History Conference at American University will function as a worthy successor to the Barnard College Feminist Art History Conference in New York, which was an important forum for feminist scholarship throughout the 1990s.
NMWA & AU Partnership
This past year, NMWA director Susan Fisher Sterling worked with Helen Langa and Kathe Albrecht to establish a Memo of Understanding between the museum and the university. With this partnership, both institutions hope to strengthen their ties through programs and cooperative efforts, and to further the educational missions of their respective institutions. The Memo of Understanding was signed by Susan Sterling and by University Provost Scott Bass in the spring. We look forward to working with the museum in the future!
University Library & VRC Fine Arts Library Partnership
During the fall 2010 semester Kathe Albrecht and University Librarian Bill Mayer discussed the idea of electronically linking art history fine arts library collection information with the university's online catalog. The library has established similar partnerships with several departments and programs on campus. The GLBT Resource Center, the Career Center, and the Women and Politics Center each partnered with the university library to link their collections. Kathe worked with library staff to establish the new partnership and outline procedures for implementing the cataloging. The library staff uploaded the information to the Voyager online catalog andalthough the art history program fine arts collection will remain a non-lending library, our books are now discoverable through the university library system.