Sophie Oliver (Birkbeck, University of London)
The Disorder of Things in Djuna Barnes's Aberrant Museum
Museums and works of art are a subtle yet constant feature of Barnes’s Nightwood. This paper argues that she treats the museum and a genre of one of its related disciplines, the art historical nude, as discursive modes that define and regulate subjectivity. Making use of inherent weaknesses in these discourses, and employing images of spectacular decay and dissent that have their origins in her newspaper writing on Coney Island, freak shows and the suffrage movement, she disturbs the controlling frames of the museum and the nude, creating badly behaved versions of these venerable institutions.
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