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Queens & Kings and Other Things
Roger Sabin

Chapter 4 examines Duval’s only children’s book, with particular reference to its relationship to Edward Lear’s nonsense verse, other influences on its content and its contemporary reception. The book’s lavish production values point to a high point in her career, and its mode of address to a willingness to experiment.

in Marie Duval
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Ilaria Vanni

The Conclusion explains that the framework of design activism provides a vocabulary to understand how design objects and practices address precarity as political, social and material conditions. It also clarifies how the three microhistories presented in the book enable a shift between different scales of observation, remixing close-ups on the localised realities in Italy and long shots on global issues brought about by precarity. In detail, the first chapter explores the invention and use of designed objects in parades. The second chapter provides an example of an activist design intervention in the fashion industry that embedded some of the defuturing elements of precarity in the designed objects, and prefigured a different way to produce fashion with the invention of the ‘metabrand’. The third chapter offers examples of design as redirective practices grounded in activist experiences. Lastly, the Conclusion outlines the four threads running through the book: the throwntogetherness of local and global elements; the attention to build collectivities and alliances; the biographical elements; and finally the idea of ‘laboratory Italy’, arguing that the case of precarity, Italy has been a laboratory of early work reforms, mass precarisation and the erosion of workers’ rights, but also of experimentation in design activism.

in Precarious objects
Roger Sabin

Chapter 1 introduces the magazine, which was Duval’s primary site of publication, and her place within it. Themes that emerge affecting her work relate to the serial publication of the magazine and its political orientation, and the way in which Duval’s work was juxtaposed with the contributions of others, notably the cartoonist of the main ‘cut’ (the illustration with the highest status), William Boucher. The chapter emphasises the innovative nature not only of Judy but also of Duval’s role within the magazine and, by extension, her role in developing cartooning itself.

in Marie Duval
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Simon Grennan, Roger Sabin, and Julian Waite
in Marie Duval
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Design, activism and precarity
Ilaria Vanni

This chapter starts with the story of San Precario, patron saint of precarious workers, a design intervention that mobilised counter-precarity activism in 2004. Here, San Precario introduces the theme of the book: design activism in the context of precarity in Italy. While other anti-precarity activists adapted modes of protests already part of labour movements’ contentious repertoire, such as strikes, pickets, rallies and marches, San Precario as a campaigning artefact and redirective practice brought into play designerly elements, recoding the public discourse. The introduction lays out the reasons for a book on activism and design and presents current debates on cultural and design activism. It also lays out debates on precarity as a concept and contextualises it in contemporary Italian history. The Introduction defines precarity as a type of governmentality that impacts on all aspects of life; that (in addition to labour) regulates the production circulation of a wide range of material and immaterial effects; and that functions as a defuturing force that invests social and material life. Finally, the outline describes the three microhistories that constitute the book’s cases.

in Precarious objects
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WeMake, a makerspace in Milan
Ilaria Vanni

This chapter extends the analysis to design grounded in activist practices. It focuses on WeMake, a makerspace founded in 2012 with a specific interest in addressing the uneven distribution of making literacies and access to hardware. The chapter argues that making is a redirective practice, drawing on Fry’s definition of design that facilitates knowledge exchange, politically contests the unsustainable status quo, enables the transformation of knowledge into action and generates a community of change-agents. To ground these ideas, the chapter offers specific examples of redirective practices. These include the use of open-source technology to enable a more evenly distributed level of participation; forms of collaboration, cooperation and knowledge sharing to extend individual capacity by networking it with others; and training programmes to redistribute digital fabrication skills and making literacies. To show how these concepts and practices are materialised through making, orientation devices have a cameo role in each section: a Do-It-Yourself aerial mapping kit; open-source pattern-making and laser-cut garments; and a hacked knitting machine that functions with an Arduino microcontroller and interface to extend the possibilities of electronic knitting.

in Precarious objects
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Maverick Victorian Cartoonist

Marie Duval: Maverick Victorian cartoonist offers the first critical appraisal of the work of Marie Duval (Isabelle Émilie de Tessier [1847–90]), one of the most unusual, pioneering and visionary cartoonists of the later nineteenth century.

Taking a critical theory approach, the book discusses key themes and practices of Duval’s vision and production, relative to the wider historic social, cultural and economic environments in which her work was made, distributed and read. It identifies Duval as an exemplary radical practitioner in an urban media environment, in which new professional definitions were being created, and in which new congruence between performance, illustration, narrative drawing and novels emerged. The book divides into two sections: Work and Depicting and Performing, interrogating the relationships between the developing practices and the developing forms of the visual cultures of print, story-telling, drawing and stage performance. On one hand, the book focuses on the creation of new types of work by women and gendered questions of authorship in the attribution of work, and on the other, the book highlights the style of Duval’s drawings relative to both the visual conventions of theatre production and the significance of the visualisation of amateurism and vulgarity. The book pays critical attention to Duval the practitioner and to her work, establishing her as a unique but exemplary figure in the foundational development of a culture of print, visualisation and narrative drawing in English, in a transformational period of the nineteenth century.

Simon Grennan

Chapter 5 considers the nature of the journalistic workplace Duval found herself in, including an analysis of the processes of periodical publishing in general. It focuses on wood-block engraving technology and the role of the journalist in the publishing industry in particular. This allows for reflections on the significance of gender and class in nineteenth-century employment.

in Marie Duval
Simon Grennan

Chapter 2 considers how Duval subverted the established nineteenth-century idea that employment was masculine and brutalising by inhabiting and then manipulating the gap between supported middle-class women and working-class women manual and service workers. It suggests that her stage career allowed her to develop complex metaphors in print, highlighting the mutability of gender and significance of clothing. Duval emerges as a flâneuse wandering through the pages of the popular publications of her time.

in Marie Duval
Julian Waite

Chapter 3 traces Duval’s stage performances, from pantomimes to romantic dramas and burlesque, using the sparse available evidence, and relates known events in her life to specific drawings she made. Her highs and lows in Ross productions, and her use of stock characters, were inspirations for her Judy strips and cartoons, though less than 5 per cent are explicitly theatre-based.

in Marie Duval