Journal of Romance Studies

Visual and literary narratives of dissent

Unframing women and representation

Journal of Romance Studies (2015), 15, (3), 83–98.

Abstract

This article examines the concepts of ‘frame’ and ‘framing’ as key topoi in theoretical debates in feminism and intertextuality. In feminist debates around the ‘frame’, the emphasis is on the dialogue between framing and unframing, fixing and unfixing, which rejects standardization and critiques the cultural representation of women. From this perspective, the article then provides a comparative analysis of a visual and a literary narrative. Isak Dinesen’s short story ‘The Blank Page’ (1955) is a disquieting narrative about the erasure of identity and silence, and a powerful gendered commentary on the making of history/herstory. Dinesen’s story is examined in relation to a visual composition by the Portuguese artist Paula Rego, ‘Oratório’/ ‘Oratory’ (2009), in which a set of opposites creates a powerful dialogue of tacit silences and subliminal discourses, against the erasure of woman’s voice. Both narratives, the visual and the literary, provide a similar challenge to fixed codes of representation while transgressively ‘unframing’ women and thus ‘reframing’ the silences of history.

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Macedo, Ana Gabriela