Self-making in autobiographical narratives: how women artists negotiate gender and creative roles through domestic spaces

Conti, Morganne. 2019. Self-making in autobiographical narratives: how women artists negotiate gender and creative roles through domestic spaces. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis explores how women artists articulate their subjectivity through autobiographical writings such as memoirs, diaries, and romans à clef. It begins by acknowledging the difficulties many women artists experience in claiming or asserting their identity as artists. In traditional and masculinist ways of understanding art, creativity is assumed to involve an act of transcendence from material circumstances and everyday life. For many women artists such acts of transcendence are not possible. By writing about their own lives, women artists give themselves space to negotiate and confront myths and institutionalised values about art and to produce counter-institutional histories.

In the thesis I investigate how three women artists, Dorothea Tanning, Leonora Carrington and Faith Ringgold, write about their lives and their art. I note how each of these artists place their art not only in studio spaces set aside from everyday life but also in domestic spaces saturated by everyday life. Indeed, they each offer vivid accounts of domestic spaces including rooms and furniture. My method of reading is to follow each of these artists through spaces, from room to room, into and outside of houses. Domestic spaces are also filled by intimate relationships; women artists, in writing about art also write about their roles within these relationships. I explore how women artists are called upon to perform certain roles that risk distancing them from their lives as artists. Whether they fulfil these roles or not, I argue that the rationale they provide for the roles they take up is how they assert their creative identities.

By exploring how women artists write about art, this thesis demonstrates how art can be created given the restrictions of physical environments, social norms and gendered expectations. Throughout, the thesis engages with classic feminist critiques of domesticity and recent queer and feminist reflections on the subject. It demonstrates how creativity can come from the very struggle to make room.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00028247

Keywords:

Gender roles, autobiography, women, self, writing, artistic identity, creativity, figures

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies

Date:

31 December 2019

Item ID:

28247

Date Deposited:

06 Mar 2020 11:55

Last Modified:

07 Mar 2020 17:30

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/28247

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