A new three-part OUPblog post by an Oxford Bibliographies contributor is now available:
- By John S. Bak, author in American Literature:
"Are today’s selfies simply yesterday’s self-portraits? Is there really that vast of an epistemological chasm between Kim Kardashian’s photos of herself on a bloated Instagram account and the numerous self-portraits of Rembrandt or Van Gogh hanging in art museums and galleries around the world? Aren’t they all really just products of their respective eras’ “Je selfie, donc je suis” culture, with perhaps only technological advances (and, admittedly, talent) separating them? [...]"
"When Tennessee Williams swapped his pen for a paintbrush, his tendency to use his lived experiences as source material did not alter much. He often painted places he’d seen, people he knew, or compositions he conjured up in the limekiln of his imagination. Although Williams painted more frequently later in life, precisely as a creative outlet when his brand of theatre was no longer in vogue, he had started sketching and painting from a very early age. To follow his career as a painter is, to a large extent, to trace his life’s alterations, physically, of course, but also emotionally. As a young man in his late teens and early twenties, he painted the great outdoors. He was shy and not yet fully aware of his homosexuality, so only nature, via the various landscapes or still-lifes he produced, was allowed the privilege of returning his gaze. In college, he would eventually emerge from his shell, and by the time he graduated from Iowa and first arrived in New Orleans in the winter of 1938, he was ready to embrace life and all that it had to offer. [...]"
"In the late 1970s, Tennessee Williams frequently visited London, feeling that European stages were more catholic than New York’s and thus open to producing his plays at a time when America was growing less tolerant of his brand of theatre. While in London, Williams would often visit celebrity painter Michael Garady and swap writing for painting lessons. In an interview with The Guardian, Garady recounts those days when Williams painted his portrait (below left) and another self-portrait (below right), which Williams entitled Le Vieux TW (Williams nearly always gave his paintings French titles, perhaps to lend them gravitas). The wild, drugged-out look of 1972 is now gone, but wrinkles clearly mark the brow, and he appears to have one eye looking straight at the viewer and one slightly askance. Although this was an accurate portrayal of his wonky eyes – Williams suffered from chronic eye-problems, the crooked gaze he captures here no doubt served another purpose. [...]"