The Activist Essay: Art, Feminism and Wikipedia in the Classroom

Dr. Louise R Mayhew
2019 Conference

Since the 1970s, women’s under-representation in the arts has provoked scoreboards and chagrin. More recently, Wikipedia revealed that less than 13% of its editors are women. In 2019, Dr Louise R Mayhew and students enrolled in 2431QCA Art, Gender, Sexuality & the Body combined the lessons of the classroom with the online activism of digital feminism, writing new and expanded Wikipedia articles on Australian women artists. The Wikipedia-based project contributes to a suite of international courses that engage in Wikipedia-based learning to cultivate critical thinking and digital literacy skills, develop specialist expertise, and contribute to the social good. This article sets out the key components and outcomes of the activist essay, providing a roadmap for fellow teachers. All resources are shared with full hope and expectation that they be replicated in classes elsewhere.

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About the author

Dr Louise R Mayhew is an Australian feminist art historian. For her PhD, she constructed the first history of women-only art collectives in Australia, c. 1970–2010. Her expertise expands to include Australian, feminist and relational art histories. More broadly, she is interested in the ethics, activism, selfies and social media of contemporary visual culture. For the past four years, she has coordinated Brisbane’s Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon.