Visual And Material Cultures of Gender and Sexuality

Building on feminist and queer interventions in the history of art, this research stream explores the visual as a space of both absence and agency with respect to changing understandings of gender and sexuality across time.

Working from the medieval period up to the contemporary moment and encompassing material from Britain, Europe, and the Global South, our research in this stream works with the visual in necessarily broad terms to produce new histories of gender and sexuality. This work takes in women as readers and book owners in late medieval France and the politics of domesticity in the work of Édouard Vuillard and the Nabis at the end of the nineteenth century. Elsewhere, we trace how visual culture, sexual politics, and forms of dissent play out under authoritarian regimes, specifically National Socialism in the first half of the twentieth century, and how transnational movement – of artists, materials, and ideas – shaped the work of queer artists in Britain after 1945.

Colleagues working in this stream:

  • Dr Francesca Berry: Art, Image and Design in France 1850 to 1940; Édouard Vuillard and the Nabis; the feminine and feminist politics of domesticity in representation; women’s magazines, home exhibitions, and other types of mass-mediated femininity and domesticity in modern France.
  • Dr Elizabeth L’Estrange: late medieval and early modern manuscripts and printed books; books of hours; maternity and motherhood; literary and visual culture of the French court; women readers, writers and collectors; the querelle des femmes.
  • Dr Gregory Salter: art, masculinity, and home in post-war Britain; transnational histories of queer art from Britain, 1957-88
  • Dr Camilla Smith: visual culture in modern Germany; sexology, erotica and censorship; women artists; artist positionality to authoritarian regimes in modern Germany

Image: Egon Schiele, ‘Crouching Woman’ (1914). © The Henry Barber Trust. Image Courtesy of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham

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