Conley, Katharine 1956-
Conley, Katharine 1956-
CAREER: Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, 1992-, began as assistant professor, became associate professor of French.
MEMBER: Modern Language Association, American Association of Teachers of French.
AWARDS, HONORS: Mellon fellowship, 1991-92; Burke research grant, Dartmouth College, 1992; Whiting Foundation travel grant, 1996.
Automatic Woman: The Representation of Woman in Surrealism, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 1996.
(Editor with Georgiana M. M. Colvile) La femme s'entête: la part du féminin dans le surréalisme, Lachenal & Ritter (Paris, France), 1998.
(Editor) Robert Desnos pour l'an 2000: actes du colloque de Cerisy, Gallimard (Paris, France), 2000.
Robert Desnos, Surrealism, and the Marvelous in Everyday Life, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2003.
Contributor to books, including Desire Unbound, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: Katharine Conley has concentrated her studies on French surrealism, particularly in its written forms but also encompassing art, photography, and audio recordings. Her book Automatic Woman: The Representation of Woman in Surrealism "elucidates the appeal surrealism held for women artists and explores the impact of the movement's ideals on surrealist women's texts and later avant-garde practices," according to Gayle Zachmann in a review for the South Atlantic Modern Language Association Web site. British Journal of Aesthetics contributor Jennifer Judkins noted that in Automatic Woman Conley "boils down the essence of surrealism to the importance of openness to the unconscious, the rejection of censorship, the privileging of collaboration and collective experience, and, in general, the value of seeing the marvelous in everyday objects and occurrences."
Robert Desnos, Surrealism, and the Marvelous in Everyday Life is a critical biography of French poet Robert Desnos, who participated in the surrealist movement as a younger artist but moved away from it before dying prematurely, a victim of Nazi imprisonment. "Conley's book sheds light on a whole new area in the history of surrealism in inter-war France that has remained thus far silenced and unchallenged: the cultural and social impact that surrealists brought to everyday life," noted Martine Antle in French Forum. Antle felt that the book will become "a chief reference work in French Studies." According to Peter Read in the Times Literary Supplement, Conley gives Desnos "the critical biography he deserves in English … judiciously separating fact from pious, apocryphal legend." Journal of Modern Literature essayist Jonathan P. Eburne found the work "welcome and necessary to any reevaluation of surrealism's contribution to modern thought," and concluded that Conley's "splendid" study "provides a fascinating and necessary characterization of Desnos's struggle to reconcile, under the most disastrous circumstances, the intellectual rigors of surrealist practice with a dedication to popular culture, public media, and popular audiences."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
British Journal of Aesthetics, July, 1998, Jennifer Judkins, review of Automatic Woman: The Representation of Woman in Surrealism, p. 339.
French Forum, spring, 2004, Martine Antle, review of Robert Desnos, Surrealism, and the Marvelous in Everyday Life, p. 135.
Journal of Modern Literature, summer, 2003, Jonathan P. Eburne, review of Robert Desnos, Surrealism, and the Marvelous in Everyday Life, p. 148.
Times Literary Supplement, September 3, 2004, Peter Read, "Liberty or Love."
South Atlantic Modern Language Association Web site, http://www.samla.org/ (February 7, 2005), Gayle Zachmann, review of Automatic Woman.