Title

Nancy Spero’s Maenad: Reimagining Feminism, Does it Work?

Lead Author Major

History and Gender Studies

Format

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Merrill Schleier

Faculty Mentor Department

Visual Arts

Abstract/Artist Statement

My paper concerns Nancy Spero’s problematic attempt to redo the classical female figure in her painting Maenad (1999) in terms of twentieth century feminist ideals. Although she appropriates the figure, she does little to change its original meaning. She does not change the vase painting in which she took the image from, which was most likely informed by Euripides’ text. Despite her claims to empower women by giving them a voice, she fails to consider the delineation of maenad women in Greek mythology. Rather she appropriates an image that was completely a male invention without sufficiently disentangling the maenad from her patriarchal context. Formal analysis will be used to show that Spero’s representation did not reinvigorate the figure with power, but instead further obscured it. Literary analysis of Euripides’ Bacchae (404-5 BC) will be used in order to examine how the classical maenad figure represented was a male invention. Finally, gender theory and feminist theory will be used to consider how Spero tried to make the figure a symbol of female strength. I plan to prove that while Spero made a good attempt at reinterpreting the maenad in the context of twentieth century feminist ideals, in the end her efforts fall short.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Room 217

Start Date

21-4-2011 5:00 PM

End Date

21-4-2011 8:00 PM

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Apr 21st, 5:00 PM Apr 21st, 8:00 PM

Nancy Spero’s Maenad: Reimagining Feminism, Does it Work?

DeRosa University Center, Room 217

My paper concerns Nancy Spero’s problematic attempt to redo the classical female figure in her painting Maenad (1999) in terms of twentieth century feminist ideals. Although she appropriates the figure, she does little to change its original meaning. She does not change the vase painting in which she took the image from, which was most likely informed by Euripides’ text. Despite her claims to empower women by giving them a voice, she fails to consider the delineation of maenad women in Greek mythology. Rather she appropriates an image that was completely a male invention without sufficiently disentangling the maenad from her patriarchal context. Formal analysis will be used to show that Spero’s representation did not reinvigorate the figure with power, but instead further obscured it. Literary analysis of Euripides’ Bacchae (404-5 BC) will be used in order to examine how the classical maenad figure represented was a male invention. Finally, gender theory and feminist theory will be used to consider how Spero tried to make the figure a symbol of female strength. I plan to prove that while Spero made a good attempt at reinterpreting the maenad in the context of twentieth century feminist ideals, in the end her efforts fall short.