Woman of Willendorf

Essay project

Your essay will investigate how prehistoric and ancient artists represented men and women. Your essay will cite the prehistoric Woman of Willendorf (from Ch. 15/Session 9) and ancient Greek Kouros/Statue of standing Youth (from Ch. 16/Session 10) as examples of gender depicted in art.

Your essay must be at least 500-words long.
You must use a word processing program (such as MS Word) to write your essay.
You must then submit/attach your essay to the assignment page as a DOC, DOCX, or PDF file.
To submit/attach your essay to the assignment page, you must click “Attach File” under the “Assignment Submission” section.
The grading rubric for this essay can be found in the “Rubrics” folder under the “Resources” button.
Topic/Title—“Gender Roles Set in Stone”

One could argue that old-fashioned attitudes regarding gender and “traditional” gender roles are becoming obsolete. In many parts of the world women head major corporations and hold high positions of power—positions historically seen as being of the male domain. In turn, many men freely choose to be “stay-at-home-dads” or enter professions that were once considered to be “feminine.” Naturally, our contemporary views of gender and gender roles illustrate the social progress we have made as one human culture.

Yet, prehistoric and ancient works of art tell a different story—one that reinforces old-fashioned gender roles (and maybe for good reason). Prehistoric and ancient representations of gender illustrate the social norms of their periods. Naturally, these works of art were produced by people whose lives and values were quite different from ours. Yet, the views of gender presented by these works of art are, despite our contemporary sensibilities, are still very recognizable.

Write an essay that analyzes the representation of gender and gender roles as seen in Woman of Willendorf (prehistoric: c. 25,000–20,000 B.C.E.) from Ch. 15/Session 9 and Kouros/Statue of Standing Youth (ancient Greece: c. 580 B.C.E.) from Ch. 16/Session 10.

As with Essay Project #1, there are no right or wrong answers here. This essay should present YOUR analysis of what the works of sculpture say about attitudes regarding gender and gender roles—how the cultures in question define ideal men and women.

To initiate your thinking on this topic, you should consider the following key terms.

Woman of Willendorf. c. 25,000–20,000 B.C.E. Limestone: plump, anonymous, relaxed, soft, spiritual, fertile, nude

Kouros (Statue of Standing Youth). c. 580 B.C.E. Marble: athletic, young, motion, ridgid, symmetrical, honorable, nude

Essay #2

Left: Woman of Willendorf. c. 25,000–20,000 B.C.E. Limestone.
akg-image /Erich Lessing

Right: Kouros. Statue of standing youth. c. 580 B.C.E. Marble.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Fletcher Fund, 1932 (32.11.1).
© 2013 Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource/Scala, Florence.

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