1st Edition

The Power and Fluidity of Girlhood in Henry Darger’s Art

By Leisa Rundquist Copyright 2021
    126 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    126 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book is the first to examine Henry Darger’s conceptual and visual representation of “girls” and girlhood.

    Specifically, Leisa Rundquist charts the artist’s use of little girl imagery—his direct appropriations from mainstream sources as well as girls modified to meet his needs—in contexts that many scholars have read as puerile and psychologically disturbed. Consequently, this inquiry qualifies the intersexed aspects of Darger’s protagonists as well as addresses their inherent cute and little associations that signal multivocal meanings often in conflict with each other. Rundquist engages Darger’s art through thematic analyses of the artist’s writings, mature works, collages, and ephemeral materials.

    This book will be of particular interest to scholars in art history, art and gender studies, sociology, and contemporary art.

    Introduction; 1. Littleness; 2. Girls on the Run; 3. The Power of Cuteness; Epilogue: Attentive Aesthetics


    Leisa Rundquist is a Professor of Art History in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of North Carolina Asheville, USA.

    "Following an excellent introduction to Darger scholarship, Rundquist (Univ. of North Carolina, Asheville) adeptly mines intersections of popular visual culture, Darger’s obsessively devout Catholicism, and art historical method, extracting compelling insights from a challenging body of images that range from the pastoral to violently horrific. ... Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty."


    "[Rundquist's] focused study is an important contribution to Darger scholarship, in part precisely because it privileges social nd material cultural critique."

    --The Burlington Magazine

    "In this admirably concise volume, Leisa Rundquist works diligently to normalize Henry Darger. ... [T]he power of this book is in her close analysis of Darger’s sources and culture, especially the specific strands of influence from his devotion to Roman Catholicism."

    --The Outsider