An Autoethnography of the Artist as a Young Woman? Susanna Paine's Roses and Thorns (1854)

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Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWomen's Writing
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • American women artists
  • Autobiography
  • autoethnography
  • early republic
  • Paine, Susanna‌
  • vignettes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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