The Moon is Feminist Art

Merve Emre is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Oxford. She is the author of Paraliterary: The Making of Bad Readers in Postwar America (2017), Collective Criticism (2019), and The Personality Brokers (2018), which was selected as one of the best books of 2018 by The New York Times, The Economist, and The Spectator. Her work has appeared in The New York Review of Books, Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, and London Review of Books.

This talk tracks the intimate relationship between representations of the Moon and female pain, pleasure, and perception. From the verses of Margaret Cavendish to the poetry of Emily Dickinson, Mina Loy, Sylvia Plath, and Elizabeth Bishop, the Moon—“the face of the sky,” “a silver Lucifer,” “a fossil virgin”—has offered itself as an emblem of all the exquisite dramas of femininity: birth, love, sex, motherhood, and death.