Past Event

Lecture: 'Seeing Remnants of 'The Yellow Wall-Paper' in Works by Female Artists'

This lecture will be presented by Mary Caroline Simpson, assistant professor of art at EIU.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s own struggle with depression, a condition worsened by prescribed bed rest, compelled her to write The Yellow Wall-Paper, an influential short story that for some scholars exemplifies a feminist gothic sensibility. Rather than dwell on attempts by female artists to illustrate Gilman’s story, this lecture considers metaphors of confinement, repression, anger and desired freedom as expressed in artistic works by Dorothea Tanning, Francesca Woodman and Louise Bourgeois, among others, both within a feminist context and in light of evolved definitions of depression and its treatment.

Mary Caroline Simpson has a doctorate in art history from Indiana University-Bloomington and is an assistant professor at Eastern, where she teaches courses on the history of European and American art since 1800. Her research examines how Chicago’s museums, arts societies and collectors played important, but still under recognized, roles in the process of legitimizing different strains of modernist art both in the United States and internationally between 1945 and 1970.

This event is part of the exhibit “Literature of Prescription: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and ‘The Yellow Wall-Paper'” that Booth Library will host from Sept. 23-Nov. 2.

More about the Exhibit
The exhibit examines a 19th-century writer’s challenge to the medical profession and the relationship between science and society. Artist and writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who was discouraged from pursuing a career to preserve her health, rejected the ideas in a terrifying short story titled ‘The Yellow Wall-Paper.’

The famous tale served as an indictment of the medical profession and the social conventions restricting women’s professional and creative opportunities.

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