Golden Nuggets

"One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying." - Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc lead the French army in defeat of the English at Orleans, which assisted Charles VII's coronation.  In gratitude for her service, the French handed her over to the British who burned her at the stake for heresy when she was just 19 years old.
Please review the materials posted on the "Preparing Your Essay to Publish" assignments on Canvas in preparation for Monday's class
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Joan of Arc at the Coronation of Charles VII, 1854.











"The sun god Ra shaped himself out of the waters of chaos, or unformed matter, and emerged sealed atop a mound of sand hardened by his own rays. By spitting (or ejaculating) he then created the gods of wetness and dryness, Tefnut and Shu, who in turn begat the male Geb (earth) and the female Nut (sky). Geb and Nut produced two sons, Osiris and Seth, and two daughters, the goddessess Isis and Nephtys.

Taking Isis as his wife, Osiris became king of Egypt. His envious brother, Seth promptly killed Osiris, hacked his body to pieces and snatched the throne for himself. Isis and her sister, Nephtys, gathered up the scattered remains of Osiris and with the help of the god Anubus (represented by a Jackal) they patched him back together [and even fashioned a phallus made of gold for him]. Despite her husband's mutilated condition, Isis conceived a son - Horus... who defeated Seth and became king of the Earth, while Osiris retired to the underworld as overseer of the realm of the dead." - Marilyn Stokstad, Art History

Isis Nursing Horus, Late Period 664 - 332 BCE.











As Friedrich "Engels's [argues in] The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1884) prehistoric matriarchies were the original sites of communism - and this was a compliment! ...mothers first controlled communal property, but when agriculture was introduced (in the Neolithic [period]), man used and therefore owned the farming tools, especially the ploughs and domesticated animals. Men thus became the first sex to have private property. Of course, by that time man had figured out his biological contribution to reproduction. And in order to pass on his property to his children, he had to make sure they were indeed his, so he introduced monogamy to control the descent system. As a result, women were subordinated economically and restricted sexually." - Shari L. Thurer in The Myths of Motherhood
Greek Menstrual Dress and Culture
Menstruation in Sacred spaces
Ancient Greek Home (note the clean division between public and private spaces)











"During [a] 2500 year transitional period, in which patricarchal attitudes gained ascendency, woman was still valued for her ability to reproduce. Her fertility potential determined her worth as a commodity. But [by the ancient period] woman was valued only for her maternity. Her scope and dignity were reduced; she had become an instrument for reproduction. And now this power was not solely hers." - Shari L. Thurer in Myths of Motherhood

Aphrodite, Early 4th century BCE.
Tondo of an Attic red-figured cup, c. 490 BCE.











"Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain that they are their own" - Aristotle
Giovanni Pellegrini, Aphrodite and Eros, 18th century.












"It is fascinating to observe that the power shift from female to male was reflected in virtually all the ancient mythologies, as every Mother Goddess, one after the other, was deposed. This occurred after the actual subordination of mortal women, and the pattern was roughly the same. At first, an earth-centered Mother Goddess was pre-eminent. She created the world and had children as she pleased (by parthogenesis, as it were - no male needed). Next, one of her male children was promoted to lover-consort, and she eventually shared her power with him. His identity conflated with that of a creator-sky god. In the ensuing power struggle between him and the goddess, he won, and he ruled, initially, with a whole galaxy of gods. She was demoted." - Shari L. Thurer

Aison, Aphrodite and Adonis lekythos, ca. 410 BCE.










"From approximately 3100 to 600 BCE...with the coming of one God (Buddha, Yahweh, Christ, or Allah), women's standing in all realms was leveled to a position subordinate to males." "By 600 BCE, patriarchy was established over much of Europe, Asia, and Africa...and preceded the development of writing. Every written word, then, has been refracted through the prism of a male-dominated consciousness." - Shari L. Thurer in The Myths of Motherhood

Idol from Amorgos

Snake Goddess

Idol from Amorgos,  2500 – 2300 BCE.
Snake Goddess from Knossos, ca. 1650 BCE.











patriarchy = a form of social organization in which the father is the supreme authority in the family, clan, or tribe and descent is reckoned in the male line, with the children belonging to the father's clan or tribe.

To the Greeks, matriarchy represented chaos and disorder. It was in opposition to civilization and therefore, normalcy. - Shari L. Thurer
"Every woman is trouble, she has only two good times: one is the wedding, the other is her death." - Palladas
"O would that the female sex were nowhere to be found - but in my lap!" - Euripides
“AD” Painter, Women at the Fountain House,
Greek Hydria, 520 – 510 BCE.











androcentric = focused or centered on men

heterosexism = a system of negative attitudes, bias, and discrimination in favor of heterosexuality and relationships that can include the presumption that everyone is heterosexual or that opposite-sex attractions and relationships are the norm and therefore superior
eurocentism = centered on Europe or the Europeans; reflecting a tendency to interpret the world in terms of western and especially European or Anglo-American values and experiences
sexism = attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles
Alexandros of Antioch, Venus de Milo, 101 BCE.











"Not surprisingly, there was a shift in magic, ritual, and imagery from the womb to the phallus. The number of female figurines diminished with respect to male figurines. The penis replaced the womb as the primary symbol of generation."- Shari L. Thurer in The Myths of Motherhood
Woman carrying a phallus painted
on ancient Greek vessel ca. 480 - 450 BCE
Dionysian Temple with phallic decorative elements, Delos











Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool at the National Mall





















Women are enslaved...


Attributed to Amasis Painter, Lekythos, Women Working Wool,  c. 56 BC.










Pompeii Painter, 79 – 50 BCE.
Painter in Her Studio, tomb relief from Rome, 2nd Century.










“Girls, be good to these spirits of music and poetry that breast your threshold with their scented gifts. Lift the lyre, clear and sweet, they leave with you.” - Sappho
Fresco of a woman with a writing
tablet from Pompeii, 1st century CE.











and women's magic becomes something to fear.

Odysseus, Circe and transformed man, Athenian red-figure calyx krater ca. 5th BCE.











The sirens song from O Brother Where Art Thou























Adam and Eve



The Little Mermaid

Gianlorenzo Bernini, Medusa, 1630.

Peter Paul Rubens, Adam and Eve, 1597.

Walt Disney Studios, The Little Mermaid, 1989.











"Man is the measure of all things." - Protagoras
  • Class was decided at birth, & upward mobility was impossible
  • Only native men of high social rank could be citizens
  • Only citizens could vote or own land
  • Citizens made up about 13% of the population
  • With the exception of slaves, women were rarely able to leave the home
  • Women of all classes were considered far inferior to males
  • Female infanticide was fairly common
  • Girls married once they began to menstruate, around age 13
  • Men married around age 30 after they'd had a few intimate relationships (preferably with other males)
Riace Warrior A, found in the sea off Riace, Italy, c. 450 BCE. Bronze, height 6' 8".









"If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things.”  - Plato in Republic c. 375 BCE
"[T]he relation of male to female is by nature a relation of superior to inferior and ruler to ruled." - Aristotle in Politics 350 BCE

Polykleitos, Doryphoros, 450 - 440 BCE.
Knidian Aphrodite, Roman copy
after Praxiteles of c. 340 - 330 BCE.











  • By 12th century cities begin to develop bringing growth in trade, travel and education
  • More people involved in selling goods for profit
  • Guilds controlled price of labor, protected the worker and esnured quality for the buyer
    • Children as young as 12 entered an apprenticeship with guild member to learn trade
    • Once an apprentice had learned their craft well, they worked as a "journeyman" until they could establish their own business
  • As the Middle Ages progressed, women were usually allowed to become apprentices and participate in every aspect of guild membership, except becoming a member
  • Eventually, women will be entirely excluded from guilds,
    and their work dismissed as "hobby"
Women Weaving, Boccaccio, Concerning Famous Women, 1402.










Because of the structure of commerce, medieval women's artistic production usually falls into two categories:
  • Embroideries
  • Illuminated manuscripts
Most (recognized) medieval women art makers were from the wealthy class and were nuns
  • Upper class women who were not nuns produced embroideries
  • Nuns produced illuminated manuscripts
Medieval Spinners and Dyers from a Book of Days











Opus Anglicanum = embroidered works made in English workshops during the 11th century
By 1250, these professional women embroiderers in England were highly respected
Popes regularly ordered liturgical garments from their shops which were considered as valuable as jewelry
In 1271 Henry III paid £220 for a bejeweled altar frontal equal to about £100,000 ($130,000) today
The labor of the four women who made it cost £36
It took them three years to create it


The Syon Cope, c. 1300.











The Syon Cope, c. 1300.












Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery at the V&A Museum










Bayeux Tapestry

The Battle of Hastings, detail of the Bayeux Tapestry, c. 1086.


View of extant Bayeux Tapestry











Banquet Scene, detail of the Bayeux Tapestry, c. 1086.
Halley's Comet, detail of the Bayeux Tapestry, c. 1086.












More of the Bayeux Tapestry











"The Bayeux Tapestry, although made for a Norman patron (probably Odo, named bishop of Kent after the Conquest), was almost certainly executed by English seamstresses, perhaps in Canterbury, who reveal themselves in their spelling of the tapestry’s Latin labels and in their technique. These same women and their contemporaries also, of course, were busily preserving the Saxon roots of the English language, transmitting it to English children long after the Norman Conquest had added its French vocabulary to the mix. English embroidery, or opus anglicanum, became one of the most prized luxuries of the European Middle Ages; indeed, the tapestry itself is not, in fact, a woven tapestry, but rather a very large piece of embroidery." - Ingrid D. Rowland
Bayeux Tapestry
Making the Bayeux Tapestry











Reasons that Medieval women joined convents:


  • Wanted to live a religious life
  • Adult women with pasts to be forgotten
  • Daughters presented as tithes by parents
  • Sickly or un-marriageable daughter
  • Women who wanted to escape the roles of motherhood and marriage - convents provided the only opportunity for women to live outside the constraints of medieval society
Claricia from the German Psalter,  13th century.











Illuminated manuscript = a hand written and illustrated manuscript from the Western or Islamic traditions, commonly produced on vellum and incorporating gold and silver leaf

Probably Jean Le Noir and/or his daughter Bourgot,
Psalter and Hours of Bonne de Luxembourg, before 1349.











Marcia creating aself-portrait with the aide of a mirror, from Boccaccio, Concerning Famous Women, 1402.











Scivias = Know the Ways
Carpet page from Scivias
Hildegard of Bingen, Carptet page from Scivias, 1142 - 1152.
Hildegard von Bingen, the Fifth Vision of the Second Part from Scivias, 1142 - 1152.











Christine and Justice

Christine de Pizan (1364 - 1430)
When her husband died, Christine de Pizan turned to writing for income
  • She supported herself, her mother and her three children with her writings
  • First known woman in western literature to make a living off of her art
Christine with Justice, 15th century.











The Book of the City of Ladies
Written as a retort to Jean de Meun's popular, Roman de la Rose
  • Pizan defends women by collecting famous women, who become the bricks by which she build the walls and houses of the city.
  • Each woman supports her argument that women are valuable participants in society.
Christine de Pizan, Opening Page of the Book of the City of Ladies, 1405.











"If it were customary to send daughters to school like sons, and if they were then taught the natural sciences, they would learn as thoroughly and understand the subtleties of all the arts and sciences as well as sons." - Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies
Christine de Pizan, Book of the City of Ladies, 1405.











Christine de Pizan presenting work to Queen Isabeu of Bavaria, 1410 - 1411.