Talk by Sharon Marcus (Columbia), “Sarah Bernhardt’s Friend”
Tuesday, Nov. 28, 5 pm
Barker Center, Room 133
Friendship is a notoriously slippery category. The word is easy to use, hard to define; indeed, it may be so easy to use because it is so hard to define. Especially vexed is the relationship of friendship to the social bonds formed by sex, marriage, and kinship. “Sarah Bernhardt’s Friend” analyzes how late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century journalists represented the relationship between actor Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) and painter Louise Abbéma (1853-1927), arguing that they used the the words “amie” and “friend” to simultaneously communicate and conceal knowledge of lesbian sexuality.
Sharon Marcus is spending this year as a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, having just finished a term as dean of humanities at Columbia University, where she is the Orlando Harriman Professor of English and Comparative Literature.