Deborah Nord, Maria DiBattista, and Ruth Yeazell

When:
November 17, 2017 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
2017-11-17T13:00:00-05:00
2017-11-17T14:00:00-05:00
Where:
The Heynman Center
70-74 Morningside Dr
New York, NY 10027
USA

WorldIn a bold and sweeping reevaluation of the past two centuries of women’s writing, At Home in the World argues that this body of work has been defined less by domestic concerns than by an active engagement with the most pressing issues of public life: from class and religious divisions, slavery, warfare, and labor unrest to democracy, tyranny, globalism, and the clash of cultures. In this new literary history, Maria DiBattista and Deborah Epstein Nord contend that even the most seemingly traditional works by British, American, and other English-language women writers redefine the domestic sphere in ways that incorporate the concerns of public life, allowing characters and authors alike to forge new, emancipatory narratives.

The book explores works by a wide range of writers, including canonical figures such as Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, Harriet Jacobs, Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf, Willa Cather, Gertrude Stein, and Toni Morrison; neglected or marginalized writers like Mary Antin, Tess Slesinger, and Martha Gellhorn; and recent and contemporary figures, including Nadine Gordimer, Anita Desai, Edwidge Danticat, and Jhumpa Lahiri. DiBattista and Nord show how these writers dramatize tensions between home and the wider world through recurrent themes of sailing forth, escape, exploration, dissent, and emigration. Throughout, the book uncovers the undervalued public concerns of women writers who ventured into ever-wider geographical, cultural, and political territories, forging new definitions of what it means to create a home in the world.

The result is an enlightening reinterpretation of women’s writing from the early nineteenth century to the present day.

Maria DiBattista is the Charles Barnwell Straut Class of 1923 Professor of English at Princeton University. Her books include Novel Characters and Imagining Virginia Woolf. Deborah Epstein Nord is the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature at Princeton. Her books include Gypsies and the British Imagination, 1807–1930 and Walking the Victorian Streets.

PictureA picture’s title is often our first guide to understanding the image. Yet paintings didn’t always have titles, and many canvases acquired their names from curators, dealers, and printmakers—not the artists. Taking an original, historical look at how Western paintings were named, Picture Titles shows how the practice developed in response to the conditions of the modern art world and how titles have shaped the reception of artwork from the time of Bruegel and Rembrandt to the present.

Ruth Bernard Yeazell begins the story with the decline of patronage and the rise of the art market in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as the increasing circulation of pictures and the democratization of the viewing public generated the need for a shorthand by which to identify works at a far remove from their creation. The spread of literacy both encouraged the practice of titling pictures and aroused new anxieties about relations between word and image, including fears that reading was taking the place of looking. Yeazell demonstrates that most titles composed before the nineteenth century were the work of middlemen, and even today many artists rely on others to name their pictures. A painter who wants a title to stick, Yeazell argues, must engage in an act of aggressive authorship. She investigates prominent cases, such as David’s Oath of the Horatii and works by Turner, Courbet, Whistler, Magritte, and Jasper Johns.

Examining Western painting from the Renaissance to the present day, Picture Titles sheds new light on the ways that we interpret and appreciate visual art.

Ruth Bernard Yeazell is the Chace Family Professor of English and director of the Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University. Her books include Harems of the Mind: Passages of Western Art and Literature and Art of the Everyday: Dutch Painting and the Realist Novel.