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PhallaciesHistorical Intersections of Disability and Masculinity$
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Kathleen M. Brian and James W. Trent, Jr.

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190458997

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190458997.001.0001

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Henry Darger and the Unruly Paper Dollhouse Scrapbook

Henry Darger and the Unruly Paper Dollhouse Scrapbook

(p.44) 2 Henry Darger and the Unruly Paper Dollhouse Scrapbook

Mary s. Trent

Oxford University Press

Grown men do not play with paper dolls; or, at least, they are not supposed to. Nevertheless, self-taught Chicago artist Henry Darger (1892–1973) worked over many decades to create an elaborate fictional world. This chapter examines a series of collage-paintings that Darger like created at mid-century to consider the significance of paper dolls to his art. It argues that domestic space and girlish crafts offered Darger opportunities for creative expression that were otherwise inaccessible to him in the public sphere due to his designation as a sexually degenerate man. In the privacy of his apartment, away from society’s judgments, Darger offered an alternative to the restrictive sexual norms of his time by celebrating ambiguously gendered children.

Keywords:   Henry Darger, sexuality, paper dolls, domestic space, public sphere, crafts, degeneracy

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