History of Art


Baylee Woodley

PhD supervisor: Bob Mills 
Working title for PhD: ‘Forsaken Femininities: The Long History of Femininity from Medieval to Modern and from Monstrous to Divine’

My dissertation puts contemporary drag artists in conversation with medieval performances of gender. It aims to demonstrate the disservice done to the plurality of both the medieval period and modern queer communities when ‘female’ is treated as a prerequisite of femininity by art historical frameworks. Binary frameworks cannot fully account for the medieval feminine as it manifests in effeminate sodomites and feminine sluts, maternal Christ figures and male Sponsa Christi, the oft-erased femmes in courtly romances or Saint Margaret who cuts herself free from a dragon’s stomach while protecting her virginity. Contemporary drag offers us a language with which these medieval performances of gender can be better understood. The medieval itself—in its ambiguous state of ‘premodernity’—holds unique potential as a period from which many contemporary ideologies stem and simultaneously as a period with constructions of gender that do not justify contemporary binary categorizations with historical precedent.

Conference Papers and Presentations 

  • April 2021: Paper: “Pleasure and the Difference it Makes: Remediatory Queer Digital Archiving for Sensual Sodomites and Contemporary Imagineers,” University of Victoria, AHA! (Art Historians and Alumni) Seminar
  • July 2020: Paper: “Remediating Pleasure(s) in the Queer Digital Archive: Visual Knowledge Production and ‘Intra-Action’ in Medieval Material and Contemporary Digital Culture,” York University, Humanities Graduate Student Association, “Designing the Self” HUGSA Conference
  • March 2020: Paper: “Designing Desire: The Power of Queering and Telling Premodern Lesbian Herstories,” University of Victoria, German, Slavic, and Holocaust Studies, “Identity, Gender, Ideology,” Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference
  • January 2020: Paper: “Lesbian Possibilities: Queer Desire in Premodern France,” University of Victoria, Art History and Visual Studies “Visual Impetus” Graduate Conference

Media Appearances and Outreach Work 

I am currently the curator of the digital archive Queer Art History, which was founded by Casey Hoke in 2017. I am also very excited to be volunteering with the Lesbian Herstory Archive as an interviewer for their upcoming Lesbian Elders Oral Herstory Project. 


  • 2020 - University of Victoria, M.A. & D.E. Breckenridge Graduate Award
  • 2019 - Robert S. & Muriel A. Raguin Graduate Scholarship
  • 2019 - The Flora Hamilton Burns Graduate Fellowship  
  • 2019 - University of Victoria Fellowship
  • 2019 - University of Victoria Graduate Award
  • 2017 - University of Victoria Nominee for the Rhodes Scholarship
  • 2017 - Nellie Holroyd Scholarship in Art History
  • 2017 - Patricia Burns Keir Prize in Canadian Art
  • 2016-2017 - Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Award
  • 2016-2017 - Presidential Scholarship
  • 2016-2017 - Lindisfarne Scholarship
  • 2014-2015 - University of Victoria Entrance Scholarship