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Ladies Who Learn Are Harmful, by Stefan Bollmann — A Overview – Austenprose

From the desk of Tracy Hickman: 

If you happen to web page by way of Ladies Who Learn Are Harmful on the lookout for visible representations that most individuals affiliate with hazard, you may be confused initially. Not one of the ladies are brandishing weapons or committing violent acts. As an alternative, they sit quietly perusing books, pamphlets, magazines, hymnals, and letters. Some topics have been caught throughout a momentary pause of their studying, gazing again on the viewer or trying off to some far horizon of their creativeness. No matter their perspective, these ladies are self-contained, and their ideas stay personal. May this be the hazard referenced within the title? As a girl who reads, I used to be curious to seek out out.

The ahead written by Karen Pleasure Fowler, creator of the bestselling novel The Jane Austen Guide Membership, begins this exploration by contemplating the recognition of the topic of studying ladies for visible artists: 

“Given the restricted entry to literacy ladies have traditionally had, ladies readers would appear to be overrepresented within the visible arts. However the picture is an apparently sophisticated one. We, the viewers, are invited to enter visually, mentally, a spot we don’t occupy—a backyard, maybe, or a sunlit room—to be able to watch a girl who’s visually, mentally, in one other place. She may be time travelling—again to historic Rome, ahead to colonized Mars… 

She may be having bother concentrating, or she may be spellbound. She may be escaping from boredom right into a frothy romantic comedy. She may be studying a Russian novel, a Japanese, assuring herself that others have additionally had their troubles. She may be pitting her wits towards a world-famous detective. She would possibly simply want a very good cry. Or she may be experiencing some transformation so profound that she’s going to by no means be fairly the identical once more. On the very second we see her, the scales may be falling from her eyes… 

The girl reader is completely nonetheless, pinned into place and utterly unaware of us watching her. Concurrently, she has escaped us completely. Most likely it’s the voyeurism that pursuits some artists. For others, let’s hope it’s the escape.” (14)

Lady Studying, by Pieter Janssens Elinga (56)

Creator Stefan Bollmann’s introduction subsequent examines historic tendencies in studying, beginning with the event of the concept “studying ought to give us pleasure” which he factors out as being a comparatively new concept that grew to become mainstream within the eighteenth century. 

“When the fad for studying started to take maintain within the days of Chardin and Baudouin, first in Paris, then in different elements of the world, everybody, notably ladies, carried a ebook in his or her pocket. This phenomenon, so disturbing to some contemporaries, quickly gained supporters in addition to critics. The previous inspired “helpful” studying, which might channel “studying mania,” because it was recognized, towards virtuous and academic supplies. Their conservative opponents noticed in unrestrained studying additional proof of the inexorable decline in manners and social order.” (23)

Lady Studying, by Lovis Corinth (95)

In a bit on “Silent Studying” Bollmann focuses on the alternatives for higher freedom that girls gained by way of studying: 

“With the power to learn, nonetheless, there developed new patterns of personal conduct that had been to threaten the legitimacy of each the Church and secular authorities on a everlasting foundation. Ladies who realized to learn at the moment had been thought-about harmful. For the lady who reads acquires an area to which she and nobody else has entry, and along with this she develops an unbiased sense of vanity; moreover, she creates her personal view of the world that doesn’t essentially correspond with that conveyed by custom, or with that of males. All this doesn’t but signify the liberation of girls from patriarchal guardianship, however it does push open the door that results in freedom.” (26)

Rose Backyard (The Artist’s Spouse within the Backyard at Skagen), by Peder Severin Kroyer (102)

Bollmann concludes the introduction by explaining that the gallery of photographs he has chosen are supposed to operate as a digital museum, permitting readers to walk round, making connections, as they leaf again and ahead by way of the pages. He notes that his quick commentaries on the photographs are meant to help the tour. The sections that comply with give attention to topics by theme: “The place the Phrase Lives: Blessed Readers,” “Intimate Moments: Enchanted Readers,” “Abodes of Pleasure: Self-Assured Readers,” “Hours of Delight: Sentimental Readers,” “The Seek for Oneself: Passionate Readers,” and “Little Escapes: Solitary Readers” The ebook concludes with image credit for every picture.

The Magic Grammar, by Jessie Marion King (108)

Whether or not you have an interest in literary criticism and artwork principle or have little curiosity in these topics however take pleasure in gorgeous artistic endeavors, Stefan Bollmann’s ebook delivers a digital museum tour devoted to photographs of girls readers that delights and informs. The creator’s commentaries embrace historic and biographical data of artists and topics that add that means to the work, prints, drawings, and images. One or two of the extra subjective interpretations did fall quick for me, because the creator contradicted one among his factors made within the introduction, particularly that the inside states of the ladies readers portrayed stay unknowable. I desire to imagine that every viewer is free to type their very own interpretation, simply as ladies who learn are free to suppose and dream as they select.

Younger Lady with Guide, by Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Deineka (141)

Ladies Who Learn Are Harmful combines beautiful colour photographs with compelling concepts concerning the function of studying in ladies’s lives. I’ll return to browse its pages repeatedly and might suggest it as a great gift for a particular buddy or member of the family. Stefan Bollmann’s considerate curation of photographs—works relationship from the Center Ages to the 20 th century with many chosen from smaller European museums and personal collections—creates a visible expertise that retains its freshness whereas analyzing an exercise acquainted to each reader, whether or not they contemplate themselves harmful or not.

5 out of 5 Stars


  • Ladies Who Learn Are Harmful, by Stefan Bollmann, foreword by Karen Pleasure Fowler
  • Abbeville Press (March 15, 2016)
  • Hardcover (156) pages
  • ISBN: 978-0789212566
  • Style: Literary Criticism, Artwork Historical past


We obtained a assessment copy of the ebook from the writer in alternate for an trustworthy assessment. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cowl and pictures courtesy of Abbeville Press © 2016; textual content Tracy Hickman © 2016,


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