I’ve signed up for a six week U3A Cambridge course, Reading women: Questioning Image and Meaning(s), run by Britta Dwyer. Britta describes the course as follows.
Why are women readers so over represented in the visual arts given the limited access they had historically to the ‘activity of reading’? Why were reading women considered dangerous? In this class I want to bring together a selection of works of women reading – from the Renaissance to present – to ask some loaded questions. Beginning with WHO is reading and WHAT is being read (bible, novel or newspaper) I want to explore HOW the images reflect upon social issues (women’s literacy, patriarchal taboos) and crucially, HOW the images function as metaphors for voyeurism and gendered viewing. So, join me on this challenging journey as we interpret images of ‘Reading women’.
I don’t know which artists will be covered, but I will try to introduce On Reading by Andre Kertesz. In the preface to the 2008 edition, Robert Gurbo writes of how Kertesz’s ‘images celebrate the power and pleasure of this solitary activity’. Twenty-seven of the photographs feature women and girls, 32 men and boys.