Summer School 2021

Truth and beauty in art: images of women through the ages

Suzanne Perrin, independent lecturer

This course will show the diverse ways that women have been portrayed in Western and Japanese art, from the earliest Egyptian Graeco-Roman depictions of beauty to the goddesses of myths and legends in Japan and China; from the entertainers of theatre and the heroines of wars to the educated poets and writers of the aristocracy; from stereotypes and the slavery of beauty to individual freedoms and liberation shown in tattoos and ‘body awareness’ throughout the world and in different cultures from Japan to Maori to Africa. Questions such as ‘What is the truth in beauty?’ will be addressed through a wide ranging selection of images that will inspire participants to think about how beauty is portrayed in history, in the mass media, and what that means in today’s multicultural societies.


  1. The cult of reverence: myths, legends, heroines
  2. The cult of beauty: icon, entertainer, slave
  3. The cult of realism: freedom, choice, bodycon
  4. The cult of fantasy: manga, cosplay, cute

This course will be offered on the Microsoft Teams platform. Participants will be sent a link.


Recommended reading

Danly, R.L. 1981. Life & Writings of Higuchi Ichiyo in Meiji Japan. London: Yale University Press.

Dalby, L. 2000. The Tale of Murasaki. New York City: Vintage.

Golden, A. 1997. Memoirs of a Geisha. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Weidemann, C. 2008. Fifty Women Artists You Should Know,  London: Prestel.

Date: Monday 18–Thursday 21 January
Time: 1.00 pm