You can find my curriculum vitae here.
At the end of her poem, “Patchwork,” Irish poet Eavan Boland writes, “ But is it craft or art?” Although Boland is talking about quilting, the same question could be asked about most made things, be they books or burlap bags. The line between craft and art is often a blurry one—a constellation of tensions, as Boland’s poem suggests, between technology and the hand, history and memory, and beauty and labor. My book-in-progress, Crafting Modernity, argues that art processes, and the specific materials involved in those processes, have given women writers critical tools for disrupting narratives and ideologies that enable oppression and violence, from gender and race discrimination to the total war of WWII.
The writers I study (Virginia Woolf, H.D., Lorna Goodison, Ali Smith, and Zadie Smith) use the materials and processes of art-making to unsettle social norms and advocate for new approaches to longstanding sites of inequality and human suffering. Traversing the long 20thcentury, the book shows how women writers in the U.K. and Caribbean use art and craft as a new form of artistic agency.
This new way of viewing craft sheds light on how feminist writers have tried to understand modernity as an idea, as well on how they’ve worked to shape a modernity that values women equally and minimizes the damage wrought by exceptional and everyday types of violence. Taking this broad view also helps to explain the significance of transmedia making for contemporary feminist literature and art.
In short, I explore women’s craftwork—considered in the fullest possible sense—in order to illuminate the materials and practices that have grounded feminist narratives and that continue to shape the cultural significance of those practices.