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A Queer History of Art course

Person with short blond hair looking intently into camera wearing a blue pinstriped suitHolly James Johnston (2019, DPhil English) is leading a course at the V&A entitled “The Queer History of Art”. Every week in this six-week course, people will encounter art, objects, architecture, and design that tell stories about gender and sexuality in the past.

Hearing from scholars and museum professionals who are changing the way we understand queer art, the course looks at how art has been utilised as a mode of queer expression throughout history. From medieval English manuscripts to Renaissance Italy, to the Pre Raphaelites and the Aesthetic movement and beyond, people on the course will uncover how art motifs and mediums have been variously appropriated and/or subverted and by a vibrant cast of queer artists, makers, collectors, and viewers.

Taken as a whole, this queer art course is about the ways in which kinship and community can be found in the ways individuals have looked, and continue to look at art, across time and place. As much about the present as it is about the past, this course also shines a light on how museums and galleries are showcasing queer art for audiences today.

Holly James Johnston is a writer, presenter, and performer. They have presented short films for Tate and The National Gallery, and recently created queer history podcast ‘That World Inverted’. Holly grew up in London and completed their undergraduate degree at University College London, before coming to Univ in 2019 for their Master’s. Outside of their academic work, Holly performs as the drag king “Orlando”, a dandy with good hair and a pretty face.

You can find out more here.

Published: 12 June 2024

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