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    Trauma and identity: Jeanette Winterson and Frida Kahlo

    Van der Wiel, Reina (2014) Trauma and identity: Jeanette Winterson and Frida Kahlo. In: A Beautiful Mind: Art and Science in Mental Illness, 2014, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, UK. (Unpublished)

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    Event synopsis: Taking as a starting point Dominick LaCapra and Roger Luckhurst's respective critiques of the traumatic foundations of identity and ‘traumaculture’, this lecture will explore the intersection between psychological trauma and identity in the work of Jeanette Winterson (b. 1959). In 2005 Winterson wrote two art reviews on the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954). The combination of topics that emerges here—celebrity status, autobiography and the psychological consequences of a body in pain—seems to reflect Winterson's outlook on being a female artist in the twenty-first century. For Winterson, the patriarchal label of autobiography is closely related to the cult of celebrity, focusing on personal, preferably traumatic, facts rather than on women's artistic achievements. However, Winterson's substitute term 'authenticity' is problematic: in its narrow referentiality it cancels out the important work done by feminist autobiography criticism in the 1980s and 1990s regarding the liberating potential of blurring the boundaries between fact and fiction. The lecture will look at Winterson's fictional work to see how this compares with the critical notions located in her non-fictional writing. Trauma seems to have become an integral part of her characters’ identities – and, one might argue, of Winterson's own identity as a writer.


    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Mapping Maternal Subjectivities, Identities and Ethics (MAMSIE)
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2015 09:31
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:15


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