Roses and Thorns, or Recollections of an Artist (1854), the autobiography of American painter Susanna Paine (1792-1862) has been overlooked despite its historical value, due to its alleged affinity to fiction. In this article I argue that Paine’s narrative should be read instead as an early attempt to write in the autoethnographical mode; I demonstrate my argument by focusing on one such “fictional” element, her use of composite vignettes. I find that exploring Paine’s narrative style and the dynamics between the personal and the social offers a new path to trace the impact of early nineteenth-century socio-economic changes had on American women artists; second, it highlights the difficulties in rendering that life into a narrative, and last it calls attention to the intertwining of “truth,” memory and imagination in autobiographical writing.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
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- American women artists
- early republic
- Paine, Susanna
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Gender Studies
- Literature and Literary Theory