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Becoming By Carol Mavor

Becoming by Carol Mavor

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Summary

Clementina, Viscountess Hawarden produced over eight hundred photographs during her all-too-brief life. Most of these were portraits of her adolescent daughters. In this title, these pictures become windows into Victorian culture, eroticism, mother-daughter relationships, and intimacy.

Becoming Summary

Becoming: The Photographs of Clementina, Viscountess Hawarden by Carol Mavor

Clementina, Viscountess Hawarden (1822-1865) produced over eight hundred photographs during her all-too-brief life. Most of these were portraits of her adolescent daughters. By whisking away the furniture and bric-a-brac common in scenes of upper-class homes of the Victorian period, Lady Hawarden transformed the sitting room of her London residence into a photographic studio-a private space for taking surprising photos of her daughters in fancy dress. In Carol Mavor's hands, these pictures become windows into Victorian culture, eroticism, mother-daughter relationships, and intimacy.
With drama, wit, and verve, Lady Hawarden's girls, becoming women, entwine each other, their mirrored reflections and select feminine objects (an Indian traveling cabinet, a Gothic-style desk, a shell-covered box) as homoerotic partners. The resulting mise-en-scene is secretive, private, delicious, and arguably queer-a girltopia ripe with maternality and adolescent flirtation, as touching as it is erotic. Luxuriating in the photographs' interpretive possibilities, Mavor makes illuminating connections between Hawarden and other artists and writers, including Vermeer, Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Lewis Carroll, and twentieth-century photographers Sally Mann and Francesca Woodman. Weaving psychoanalytic theory and other photographic analyses into her work, Mavor contemplates the experience of the photograph and considers the relationship of Hawarden's works to the concept of the female fetish, to voyeurism, mirrors and lenses, and twins and doubling. Under the spell of Roland Barthes, Mavor's voice unveils the peculiarities of the erotic in Lady Hawarden's images through a writerly approach that remembers and rewrites adolescence as sustained desire.
In turn autobiographical, theoretical, historical, and analytical, Mavor's study caresses these mysteriously ripped and scissored images into fables of sapphic love and the real magic of photography.

Becoming Reviews

The author's perspectives on Victorian and contemporary issues of intimacy, exhibition, maternity, sexuality, just to name a few of the themes in play here, open up new perspectives for the reader, who thus feels inspired to stop and dream for a while, hoping to do so as acutely and as inventively as Mavor does.-Joseph Litvak, author of Strange Gourmets: Theory, Sophistication, and the Novel
Handsomely written and carefully researched, this book will have large appeal. It is a real treasure-indeed, unforgettable.-Richard Howard

About Carol Mavor

Carol Mavor is Associate Professor of Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of Pleasures Taken: Sexuality and Loss in Victorian Photographs, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Preface: Only, my secret's mine, and I won't tell

An Erotic Note

A Queer Note

Introduction: Adolescent Reverie


Reduplicative Desires

In Which the Story Pauses a Little
Sapphic Narcissa

Collecting Loss


Postscript

List of Illustrations

Notes

Works Cited
Index 211

Additional information

NPB9780822323891
9780822323891
0822323893
Becoming: The Photographs of Clementina, Viscountess Hawarden by Carol Mavor
New
Paperback
Duke University Press
19990825
264
N/A
Book picture is for illustrative purposes only, actual binding, cover or edition may vary.
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