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Working Papers Series: Béatrice Cloutier-Trépanier | Zoom, Feb 20


Join us for another online iteration of the Archive/Counter-Archive Working Papers Series, which brings together PhD students from different universities to hear about exciting academic research in the area of archival studies. Our next speaker is Béatrice Cloutier-Trépanier, who is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at Queen's University. Béatrice's talk will be followed by a Q&A with the audience, moderated by our student organizers, Emily Barton and Elina Lex.

‘I Say The Only Plot I Can Write Is A Life’: Lucy Lippard’s Feminist Fiction

“It is no accident that I finally accepted Feminism during a period spent alone with my five-year-old son in a fishing village in a foreign country, good and far away from the artworld. I had retreated to write fiction –– something I had been doing in fits and starts all my life and have always intended to make my ‘real’ career. First, I realized that the book I planned to write didn’t come from me, but from the artists I lived with and wrote about. They were, of course, mostly men. And second, I realized that I was ashamed of being a woman. Trite as this may sound in retrospect, it came as an earth-shaking revelation. (I was ashamed of being ashamed.) It changed entirely what I wanted to do.”

Taking art writer Lucy Lippard’s own words as a point of departure, this paper examines her experimental fiction, specifically her debut novel I See/You Mean (1979), as well as other published and unpublished texts, and archival findings, and reads them across and sometimes against her finding of feminism in the early 1970s. Positioning her many works of fiction as early examples of autotheory, and as drivers for and outlets to her feminism, this research recentres the significance of Lippard’s fiction to herself, to her work, and to feminist art histories.

As I look at and begin the work of historicizing these unattended, marginal objects—Lippard’s novel(s), essays, short stories, I also reflect on the potentiality of close reading, archival research, and the triangulation of gossip, anecdotes, oral history interviews, correspondence, stories, and citations, as feminist methodology.


Béatrice Cloutier-Trépanier has a Ph.D. in Art History (2023) from Queen’s University. Her thesis, In and out of feminism: the experimental writings of Lee Lozano and Lucy Lippard, examined the experimental writings of Lee Lozano and Lucy Lippard. The layered connectedness of their writing practices of the 1960s and 1970s, at once autobiography, theory, fiction, criticism, conceptual art, and life/work, supported an analysis of the feminist labour that constitutes, drives, and sometimes complicates these marginal forms and early examples of autotheory. Her research, itself an autotheoretical exercise, refocuses anecdotes, citations, gossip, and footnotes, both as historical evidence and theoretical framework, and represents a personal investment in unconventional ways of knowing. Béatrice is currently a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Film and Media Department at Queen's University, expanding her research on Lozano by placing her in feminist conversations with Yoko Ono and Yvonne Rainer.