Sex, Syphilis, and Pyschoanalysis in the Making of Modern American Culture: The Suppressed Memoirs of Mabel Dodge Luhan

Lois Rudnick

Sparks, SAR Boardroom

Tuesday, January 14, 2014, 3:00–4:00 pm, Free

Mabel Dodge Luhan was an art patron and cultural catalyst, who created utopian communities in Europe, New York, and Taos, New Mexico. Luhan chose not to publish her memoirs during her lifetime—the stories of her multiple encounters with venereal disease, which began when she was twenty-one, married, and engaged in her first love affair—and continued, until she contracted syphilis from her fourth and final husband, Antonio Lujan of Taos Pueblo.

Lois Rudnick will use the stories that Luhan and her son and heir felt could not be told until long after her death to illustrate the complex ways in which venereal disease impacted the formation of women's sexual identities, the first women's movement of the twentieth century, modern art and literature, and the formation of psychoanalysis. Lois Rudnick is professor emerita of American studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, where she chaired the American Studies Department for twenty-six years.

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