The Monstrosity of the Female Artist in Dept. of Speculation, The Blazing World, and I Love Dick

in Subjects Barbarian, Monstrous, and Wild
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This essay zooms in on the way Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill, The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt, and I Love Dick by Chris Kraus explore the experience of being a female artist in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. The three novels describe the experience of being both a woman and an artist as a tension between two normatively incompatible categories, and consequently as monstrous. Situated in contemporary feminist discourse around art, this paper traces the intersections and tensions between these categories—woman and artist—before scrutinizing how they are painfully felt, carefully navigated, or productively reappropriated by the protagonists of the novels. Although the female monster seems to carry subversive potential, the stigmatizing and traumatizing consequences of monstrosity remain a threat to she who lives the role.

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