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Jessie Willcox Smith’s Critique of Teleological Girlhood in The Seven Ages of Childhood: “Sans Everything”

By Amanda M. Greenwell


This article examines the intertextuality of verbal and visual elements in “The Seven Ages of Childhood,” a series of seven paintings by Jessie Willcox Smith reproduced in The Ladies’ Home Journal in 1908–09, and then bound in book form. Drawing on sources including Smith’s biography, The Ladies’ Home Journal, the captions for each piece (modelled on lines from Shakespeare’s As You Like It), and Carolyn Well’s verse contributions to the book form, this article argues that “Seven Ages” contains a subversive critique of the traditional teleological arc of girlhood, the aim of which was marriageability

Publisher: University of Winnipeg
Year: 2017
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