Identify womens contributions to the creation of culture in western society through a discussion of three key figures (artists, poets, writers, dancers, performers, composers, etc.) from our required or recommended sources. In your discussion, you will also analyze how western society has shaped these womens lives and their creativity. Begin by selecting three key figures from different time periods and identify their artistic contributions to culture. You may either consider these elements separately as explained below or weave the ideas together as you discuss each of your key figures. Having selected your three key figures, analyze how their creativity made important contributions to culture in their own era and in some cases, how their contributions reverberated to different disciplines and different eras and time periods, perhaps even being felt today. You should provide detailed illustrations from their creative work (paintings, poetry, performance, methods of dance, music, etc.) to support your discussion on the importance of their contributions. This section must be three to four pages in length.
Next, as you examine how society has shaped these womens lives and creativity, consider some of the following questions.
How did prescribed gender roles for women impact their creativity?
What images defined women (seductress, mother, virgin, etc.)?
Which images and roles were acceptable and which were outside the norm?
How did these narrowly-defined gender roles and images (such as the nature of women) shape the lives and work of your three key figures?
Some women may have outwardly conformed to these expectations while their work challenged the roles/images in subversive and creative ways while others openly rebelled. As you delve deeper into these issues, consider the dynamics of gender and power. Feminist critic Susan Lanser claims that literary texts both reflect and constitute structures of gender and power (1989), and it is this idea that you will further explore not only in texts, but in different art forms. For example, how does the subject matter in paintings and texts (or performance) reflect the dynamics of gender and power? Who has privilege? Who has power? How do these creative women sometimes deconstruct (break down) dominant male patterns while reconstructing female experience?
As you discuss how society has impacted womens creativity, remember to consider the significance of race, class, and/or ethnicity of the three key figures. How does the artists class, for example, impact both the importance of her contributions and the ways society shaped her life and work? Does her ethnicity or race determine what subjects she writes about or paints or how she performs? Again, provide detailed examples from the artists body of work to support your discussion for three to four pages.
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