Doll Studies: Forensics


The Feminist Peep Show

Doll Studies: Forensics
by Carol Guess
Black Lawrence Press, 2012.
84 pages / $14  Buy from Black Lawrence Press or SPD








At the National Gallery in London, there is a ‘peepshow’ that allows one to peer into a miniature 17th century Dutch household. Made by Samuel van Hoogstraten in the 17th century, and appropriately titled A Peepshow with Views of the Interior of a Dutch House, it is a small box that looks rather plain on the outside, but has been intricately painted inside to reveal a private domestic scene. There are two holes in opposite sides of the box, through which viewers are invited to take a peek. Though nothing out of the ordinary seems to be happening inside, the peepholes create a sense of the illicit; the viewer becomes a voyeur, examining the intimate space of strangers.

The surreal and smart prose poems in Carol Guess’s newest collection function in part as sensational Dutch peepshows, and in part as feminist meditations on the aesthetics of violence. Doll Studies: Forensics takes for its subject eighteen dioramas built by forensic pathologist Frances Glessner Lee. Based on real crime scenes, Lee’s dioramas were used as tools in the study of crime scene investigation during the 1940s and 50s. The majority of Lee’s dioramas depict scenes in which women are victims of domestic violence, so the dioramas are ripe with opportunity for feminist discourse.


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October 1st, 2012 / 12:00 pm