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The essays in this collection explore the many ways in which women writers have seen and dreamed the woman artist as a character in their works. In describing this character, her struggles and her visions, we as feminist critics run the risk of prescribing her, and yet failing to name her means failing to know her. We confront this difficulty not by defining the woman artist figure but by identifying many. Recognizing as Teresa De Lauretis has suggested that the social construction of gender is "a common denominator" among women, we examine the different representations of the woman artist figure as gender is mediated by race, class, nationality, ethnicity, motherhood, sexual orientation, and historical era as well as literary movements and theories of language. Although a concern with so many positions may seem to suggest a paradoxical passive creator determined by external elements along, Linda Alcoff argues that "the concept of positionality includes two points: first...that the concept of woman is a relational term identifiable only within a (constantly moving context; but, second, that the position that women find themselves in can be actively utilized (rather than transcended) as a location for the constructions of meaning." The title of the collection, Writing the Woman Artist, suggests both the social construction of women artists an their own imaginative construction of the artist figure; it registers the tension between the fictional and the empirical figure, the problematic relationship between language and reality.
University of Pennsylvania Press
School of Arts and Sciences
Interactive Arts | Women's Studies
Jones, Suzanne W., ed. Writing the Woman Artist: Essays on Poetics, Politics, and Portraiture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991.