Teaching With Objects

June 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

The best advice I got as a new teacher designing my first syllabus was to teach what I know.  Thank you Rosemarie Garland-Thomson!  I was new to Women’s Studies but had spent many years as a professional public historian – and I knew objects – the material and visual stuff of everyday life.

DBM Trojan condom tin blog

I grabbed the attention of my first class on my first day with an exercise in reading the object – this circa 1940 Trojan condom tin.  It was different enough to puzzle my students and familiar enough to be relevant to their daily lives.

gold trojan back

This single object opened the door to an array of topics pertinent to Women’s Studies from reproduction rights and the science of sex to the gendering of colors.


Etching Featured on Mary E. Hutchinson Site

June 9, 2013 § 1 Comment

Cathedral St. John the Divine

Currently featured on Artworks of Mary E. Hutchinson at http://meh.omeka.net – “Cathedral St. John the Divine,” etching (ca.1929).

As a student at the National Academy of Design in New York, Mary E. Hutchinson learned to work in a variety of media including the art of etching which was very popular in the 1920s.  She viewed the Cathedral of St. John the Divine from her apartment window every day and made both an etching and a drawing of it.

Hutchinson began etching in January 1929 and wrote her mother, Minnie Belle, a detailed description of the process:

“I can stay in the etching class all right I think, but I have such loads to learn!  Mr. Leavy came in yesterday morning.  So Friday afternoon I worked, lay[ing] another ground on a plate, and printing the trial plate I had made.  Part of Thursday I worked in the room, biting my trial plate.  I certainly make lot of slips, with no one to tell me much.

You first take a zinc plate, clean it with the finest emory paper and then benzene.  You put the plate on a stone, holding it with a vice.  When it is almost hot enough to sizzle (but it must not sizzle), you rub rosin on it through a silk rag; then with a rubber roller, you roll the wax very evenly, and very thin on the plate.  The heat of the plate must be just right to do this, and your pressure just right, and even the most experienced often have to lay a ground three or four times before it is right.  The coating has to be very thin, yet perfectly cover the plate.  Any part too thin, or a tiny porous place like a pin mark, the acid will bite through.  When the ground is on right, and the plate still warm, it is smoked then cooled.  That is all I had better explain at present.”

Gender Newswatch! “Matilda’s” Monstrous Gender

April 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

As reported on NPR’s All Things Considered, Thursday, April 11, 2013 – the representation of “Matilda’s arch-nemesis, Miss Trunchbull, the headmistress of Crunchem Hall” in “Matilda the Musical” rates a Gender Newswatch red flag warning.  Judging from  director Matthew Warchus’ explanation for casting Bertie Carvel (a man) to play Miss Trunchbull on stage, the monstrous darkness of the character is represented by discord between sex and stereotypical gender expectations.  Although Warchus began by casting women in the role, he created the monster he wanted on stage by turning to a man for the part.

According to Warchus, “it became clear to me that the sort of monster that Roald Dahl had drawn — and one who is an Olympic-class hammer thrower, as well —[this] hugely strong, intimidating, nasty, repellent, monstrous person, isn’t particularly female or male.”  Warchus relies on the prejudiced response to what Judith Halberstam calls “female masculinity.”  Gender stereotypes are used to turn this woman’s athleticism, physical strength, and strength of personality into something considered inhuman or monstrous.  The message – and a message aimed at children – becomes one of gender conformity rather than a message against unethical and violent behavior – such as picking up a child and swinging her by the hair.


Become a part of Gender Newswatch and leave a comment either on this post or alerting us to other news stories like this which quietly reinforce gender stereotypes and discrimination or to stories directly related to gender disparity.

Gender Newswatch! Andover Student Leaders

April 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

I have noticed so many stories in the news lately that are either about gender, such as this New York Times article on gender disparity in the student leadership at Phillips Academy (a.k.a. Andover) –


– or stories that invoke gender stereotypes (more to come on this!), that I am adding Gender Newswatch as a new blog category.

Help me keep up with what is happening in the news.  If you see a news story about gender, or especially a story whose take on gender should be challenged, let me know by leaving a comment.  Be sure to include a link and specific citation.

Interested in Mary E. Hutchinson, artist? Contact me!

April 7, 2013 § 10 Comments

The Student

The Student (c.1937)

Are you interested in the artwork of Mary E. Hutchinson?  I am a Women’s Studies scholar who has been researching and writing about Hutchinson for the past ten years.  I am currently revising my dissertation, “Mary E. Hutchinson: The Absence of an Oeuvre,” for publication.  You can contact me by leaving a comment below!

Rosalie [tropical background]

Rosalie (1933)

I’ve had a flurry of new visitors (especially from Canada) to my “work in progress” digital catalog of Hutchinson’s artwork at http://meh.omeka.net since “Rosalie” (1933) recently sold at auction.  I would love to learn who was lucky enough to snap up this one!

Sold at Auction! Mary E. Hutchinson’s “Rosalie”

April 2, 2013 § 1 Comment

Rosalie [tropical background]

Mary E. Hutchinson’s 1933 portrait of Rosalie Lanza sold at auction last week.  This is one of several portraits of Rosalie painted by Hutchinson between 1932-1935.  The subject was the sister of Hutchinson’s partner, Joanna Lanza.  For the exhibition history and more about the artist, see my digital catalog Artworks of Mary E. Hutchinson at http://meh.omeka.net.

Needless to say, I would love to hear from the new owner of “Rosalie”!  Leave a comment and let’s connect.

Pen & Ink Drawings Posted on Mary E. Hutchinson Site

March 15, 2013 § 1 Comment

Ruth Playing the BroomI have just added several pen and ink drawings to my digital archiving site The Artworks of Mary E. Hutchinson at http://meh.omeka.net.

Feeding Little CrittersHutchinson made these drawings between 1942 and 1945 depicting her topsy turvy daily life as she and Ruth Layton cared for the children of a close friend who appears to have been suffering from severe depression and may have been institutionalized.  To view all of these drawings posted so far, click here and then select “Browse Items” from the top menu.  Then click “Browse By Tag,” and finally select “pen & ink” from the tag cloud.

Tell me about your experience navigating my Hutchinson site by leaving a reply here.

Mary E. Hutchinson’s “Cat” Sold at Auction!

March 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

CatI’ve just learned that Mary E. Hutchinson’s ca. 1934-35 painting “Cat” was recently sold at auction.  Hutchinson exhibited the painting at the Washington Square Sidewalk Show probably in 1934 and then again at the Argent Galleries in New York in 1935.  The Argent Galleries was associated with the National Association of Women Artists.

“Cat” is currently featured on my digital archiving site, Artworks of Mary E. Hutchinson at http://meh.omeka.net.

Mary E. Hutchinson’s “George” or “Shine Boy”

March 3, 2013 § 1 Comment

George or Shine BoyI have recently added this portrait of George Griffiths to the Artworks of Mary E. Hutchinson at http://meh.omeka.net.   It is one in a series of paintings made by Hutchinson in 1936-37 of Griffiths who she probably encountered at the Harlem Community Art Center where she worked for the Federal Art Project.  The title of this work is probably either “George” of “Shine Boy” or it seems likely that Hutchinson exhibited the painting twice under the two different titles.

I am currently researching and thinking through issues of mid-twentieth century cross racial representation and would love to hear from others working on this issue.

“George Griffiths” Added to Mary E. Hutchinson Site

February 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

George Griffiths

I’ve recently added a portrait of “George Griffiths” to the Artworks of Mary E. Hutchinson, a digital archiving work-in-progress site.  Hutchinson painted a series of paintings in 1936-37 featuring Griffiths who was described in one news article as a young friend of the artist.  Most likely, Hutchinson encountered Griffiths at the Harlem Community Art Center while working for the New York Federal Art Project.

The location of the portrait is currently unknown, but Hutchinson retained a professionally produced portfolio photograph that documents the painting.

Griffiths is also the subject of “George Sleeping” which is currently featured at http://meh.omeka.net.