Becoming by Carol Mavor
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By Carol Mavor


The Photographs of Clementina, Viscountess Hawarden

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Format: Paperback

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Becoming by Carol Mavor

Book Description

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.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780822323891
ISBN-10: 0822323893
Format: Paperback
(232mm x 157mm x 19mm)
Pages: 264
Imprint: Duke University Press
Publisher: Duke University Press
Publish Date: 25-Aug-1999
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions...

Books By Author Carol Mavor

Aurelia by Carol Mavor Aurelia, Hardback (June 2017)

In Aurelia, Carol Mavor reads the world of literature and art through the lens of the fairy tale.

Blue Mythologies by Carol Mavor Blue Mythologies, Hardback (August 2013)

Carol Mavor takes in the many shades and meanings of the colour blue, including those of science, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Slavery, gender, sex, ornithology, the literary past, and film.

Pleasures Taken by Carol Mavor Pleasures Taken, Paperback (December 1996)

Lewis Carroll's photographs of young girls and Julia Margaret Cameron's photographs of Madonnas are two of the subjects in this book, which explores pleasures of all those involved in the creation of the images as well as the images themselves.

» View all books by Carol Mavor


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Author Biography - 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.

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