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Edvard Munch and the "Great Cause": Abortion, Eugenics, Whiteness

Event Type
School of Art & Design Visitors Committee; Humanities Research Institute; European Union Center; Department of History; Ziff Fund
331 Art & Design Building
Nov 6, 2023   5:30 pm  
Originating Calendar
European Union Center Events

This lecture explores how Munch’s work often places abortion, infanticide, and sexually transmitted disease in a complex dialogue with first-wave feminism’s calls for reproductive rights. Morehead situates Munch’s abortion-themed work (Madonna, Inheritance, Foster Mothers in Court), first in the context of Norway’s early twentieth-century abortion debates and then in relation to the specter of eugenics, controversially raised in footnote 41 of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade. The paper ultimately considers how a collector’s view of Munch as “an artist for all people of any age, sex, era, or country!” might function as part of a white saviorist “rhetoric of human communality,” a cover for the work of “population control.”

About the speaker: Allison Morehead is an associate professor of art history at Queen’s University in Canada. She specializes in modern French, German, and Scandinavian art, visual, and material culture, emphasizing intersections with the psy-sciences and relays between modernism and the medicalization of life.

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