Abstract

Using narrative inquiry, I revisit and re-engage with former scholarship as a way to wrestle with new understandings regarding artistic intent, art making as process, and continuing controversies over representations of children. Photographer Sally Mann’s remarkably candid memoir Hold Still (2015) inspired me to look back, re-evaluate, and reconsider my research. Loosening my past arguments, letting go of my former stance, I explore the inherent duality of her roles (mother/artist), while acknowledging Mann’s transparency and illuminating accounts of dealing with memory. Lewis Carroll’s Victorian era photography, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (1958), and Mann’s body of work collectively center on childhood innocence—each perhaps unknowingly referent to the other’s artistic production in both words and images. I unravel and pull at such threads, revealing the patterns and themes that resonate throughout Mann’s aesthetically prescient wonderland. In addition, arts-based collages explore intertextual and visual similarities between Carroll’s, Nabokov’s, and Mann’s narratives. Ultimately, I offer an apology for my harsh judgment of Mann’s passionate pursuit to capture her version of wonderland through an antique 8 × 10 in. looking glass.

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