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On Audre Lorde and Tee Corrine
Teresa Carmody

Teresa Carmody explores aspects of the erotic within selected published works and archival materials of two US lesbian-identified feminists: Audre Lorde (1934–92) and Tee Corinne (1943–2006). Both Lorde and Corinne engage the erotic as an intellectual, emotional and spiritual way of being. Lorde, in her famous essay ‘The Uses of the Erotic’, describes the erotic as a ‘source of power and information within our lives’, existing ‘between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings’. For Lorde, the erotic connects one’s internal life-force and creative energy, providing a ‘sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire’. While Lorde initially delivered ‘The Uses of the Erotic’ at a women’s studies conference, this work has impacted thinkers across disciplines, from literary studies to critical phenomenology. Tee Corinne’s work, however, is still primarily known within lesbian and queer communities, which she documented for over thirty years. Carmody first encountered her work through The Cunt Coloring Book, self-published in 1975 (subsequently published by Last Gasp). The book features close-up, and thus semi-abstract, depictions of women’s genitals; friends and community members served as models for the drawings, which, as Corinne says, were initially inspired by Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and the San Francisco Sex Information Switchboard, where she volunteered. For Corinne, sensuality has transformative potential, a spiritual dimension also found in nature. In an autotheoretical mode, this chapter weaves readings of Lorde and Corinne with Carmody’s personal experience of erotic understandings, including sexual and spiritual arousal. This began in the early 1990s, after leaving her evangelical and Christian fundamentalist childhood home. Here are some questions it asks: ‘How did I begin embracing self-nurturing and feeling as a form of resistance?’ ‘How did I come into my own intuitive and erotic knowing, and learn to honour integrity more than righteousness, hope and curiosity over fear?’ It brings these questions to an altar, a personal altar. The kind found in kitchens, bedrooms, foyers, and hallways; a site of symbolic connection, made intuitively, ever unfolding. An altar as a kind of diary, a recurring site for reflection and vision. In Beautiful Necessity: The Art and Meaning of Women’s Altars, folklorist Kay Turner describes such altars as a kind of ‘embodied thinking’. An altar, writes artist Regina Vater, is ‘a threshold of contact with another dimension that is here all the time’. This altar includes images of Lorde, Corinne, and other queers and lesbians Carmody has known. It includes text, objects, paint and decorations. This chapter embodies the idea that writing, like the body, begins before language; making and tending this altar will necessitate this textual life.

in Lifework
Marquis Bey

In this self-reflective chapter, Marquis Bey offers a reckoning with the autotheoretical as a mode of critical practice with the potential to exceed the limits of the self. In Bey’s own words: it has been posed to me, as a scholar and thinker and writer given toward the radical project of undermining ontology and tenets of subjectivity, how it is that I come to autotheory as a mode of writing. My intellectual and sociopolitical penchants skew in the vein of desiring an outside to the identitarian, the hubris of a coherent and transparent self, the presumption of an uncritiquable lived experience. How, then, is autotheory a genre for you, Marquis? It is a sincere question, and a perplexing one, to which I respond in a way not quite expected: I move through autotheory not as a reflection of the self’s event; rather, autotheory provides the discursive occasion for excavating the conditions of the supposed self in service of its interrogation – and, too, the interrogation of other selves, other conditions. It provides, put differently, the opportunity to excavate the encounter and what it might permit us to learn that would bring about the dissolution of so many rigid, impenetrable requisites for how it is possible to encounter, to know, to live, to be. Autotheory, as I wield it, is to theorise the undermining of the ‘Self’ such that other things become possible to know and become. Not ‘self-theory’ but ‘un-self-theory’, as it were.

in Lifework
Moran Sheleg
in Lifework
Training as an exhibition designer
Harriet Atkinson

Chapter 1 provides the pretext to the ways in which exhibitions began to be used as propaganda from 1933, exploring how the British government had used exhibitions for promoting trade and industry and as acts of diplomacy earlier in the twentieth century, with mixed success. The chapter traces the varying routes through which exhibition designers learnt skills for the job: in training, apprenticeships, and art and architecture schools in Britain, including through the arrival in London of the German Reimann School, offering specific courses on exhibition and display design.

in Showing resistance
Tim Allender

Chapter One establishes the Roman Catholic religious terrain of Calcutta. It analyses the complex heritage of Roman Catholicism in the city, which was entangled with newly established British colonial categorisations around race and class. These entanglements reconfigured even earlier Euro-Portuguese mentalities as they related particularly to Roman Catholic Eurasians. The chapter then focuses on the Loreto in Calcutta as the first-arriving female Roman Catholic convent in the city.

in Empire religiosity
Moran Sheleg
in Lifework
Open Access (free)
Harriet Atkinson

The conclusion considers where this form of exhibition ended up after 1953, as the Cold War intensified, suggesting that while the programme of international exhibitions continued as the focus for ‘soft power’ and diplomatic exchanges, exhibitions fell out of favour for communicating with domestic audiences. It finishes by reflecting on the significance of incomers to Britain in shaping this form and how this form may also have had significance in shaping their lives.

in Showing resistance
Abstract only
Ireland on display
Shahmima Akhtar

The commodification of Irishness now articulates itself in a multi-billion-pound industry that capitalises on motifs of the country. For instance, so-called Irish pubs exist in almost every country of Europe, with shamrocks a regular feature of modern life. Stereotypical images of Irishness rooted in the land and its people have a currency and traction that transcends borders, and we can see their origins in international exhibitions. The exhibitions created marketable symbols of Irishness that now have a life of their own, articulated primarily through the tourism industry. In the same way that exhibitions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries accommodated for different politics and biases, the mass market of Irishness is deluged with predictable motifs of Irishness, divorced from its political sphere. A saleable Irishness emerged in exhibits of the past and are now the product of a lucrative global phenomena of Irish culture, whether related to the Irish landscape, the Irish people, or Irish products. Overall, the book uncovers that exhibitions are a key conduit for assessing the changing landscape of Irishness over two centuries by focusing on the politics of display.

in Exhibiting Irishness
Abstract only
Tim Allender

The conclusion reflects upon the personal standpoint of the author – as a Westerner and as a male researching disempowered Indian females. The metaphors that the modern-day city of Calcutta (Kolkata) presents to any author are used to illustrate the epistemological complexities involved in writing this book, which crosses over many racial, religious, gender, cultural and colonial boundaries. The conclusion then posits the false equivalences made by missionaries (Protestant and Roman Catholic) between the faith-based systems of the West and the East. There is also a discussion of how Roman Catholics were situated in India after independence in 1947. The colonial mentalities that ensnared them are summed up, as well the problematic application of Western feminism to Roman Catholicism in India today.

in Empire religiosity
Open Access (free)
Harriet Atkinson

Chapter 5 focuses on the culture of counter-exhibitions that developed in Britain as political arguments during the 1930s, analysing two examples: the Workers’ Empire Exhibition, mounted by anti-empire campaigners in Glasgow in 1938 as a direct critique of the Glasgow Empire Exhibition, and Twentieth Century German Art, mounted in London by a group of anti-fascist campaigners as a direct response to the Nazi degenerate art exhibitions.

in Showing resistance