Past forms, present concerns: reading transhistorically for feminised labour

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


This article makes the claim that experiences of feminised work are represented through literary forms that recur across disparate genres, periods, and media. Drawing on Caroline Levine’s concept of form and taking a transhistorical approach to the study of literary representations, the article compares the 1952 novel Excellent Women by Barbara Pym and the Instagram comics of Liana Finck. While these texts do not invite immediate comparison, the article demonstrates that Pym and Finck use similar formal strategies in their depictions of feminised labour. Comparing these case studies reveals recurring forms of circularity, incompletion, and ironic comedy, which are used to represent the working lives of women. In both cases, the female protagonists are caught up in feminised experiences of work resulting in resignation to seemingly endless repetition. The article argues that the affordances of these forms capture transhistorically occurring traits of feminised work, thus giving shape to experiences that are not limited to a particular historical moment. Since contemporary working conditions are becoming increasingly feminised, the article concludes that looking to representations of feminised work across time can illuminate experiences of feminisation today, in waged as well as unwaged contexts
TidsskriftTextual Practice
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 13. nov. 2023


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