Women Designers in the USA, 1900–2000: Diversity and Difference

This seminar surveys the emergence of women designers and their contributions to American design from 1900 to 2020. It draws upon Pat Kirkham’s groundbreaking edited volume, Women Designers in the USA, 1900- 2000: Diversity and Difference, which accompanied BGC Gallery’s landmark exhibition of the same name. This course extends to 2020 to commemorate the centennial of American women’s suffrage. It considers designed objects; education, training, and professionalization; collaboration; issues of race, ethnicity, class, and age; anonymity and visibility; representations of and writings about women designers; marginalized areas of study; and feminist interpretive frameworks. The course commences with foundational readings. Thereafter, the main focus is on particular areas of design, specific designers and designs, and the themes noted above. Students are expected to prepare short presentations, lead a class discussion, and undertake research projects, individually or in groups. Topics for exploration include ceramics, furniture, metalsmithing, jewelry, textiles, quilts, fashion, graphics, industrial design, architectural and interior design, landscape design, and costume and production design for film and television. Especially important are the understudied careers of indigenous, Black, Brown, and LGBTQ designers.

3 credits.