Re-telling the stories of artists who are women
: lessons from the multimedial fictions of George Sand

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This study analyses George Sand’s depictions of artists as women creating in multiple art forms (as writers, actresses, musicians, and painters) to disclose Sand’s innovative narrative strategies that allow alternative stories about women’s creativity to emerge against a background of major medical, political, and cultural discourses that insistently rendered prevalent understandings of womanhood antithetical to artistic vocation. Challenging the tendency to read Sand’s women artists primarily through the lens of sex or gender for the production of (equally reifying) counter-stereotypes, the multimedial scope of this thesis – which addresses the lack of any major study of Sand’s female artists across art forms – demonstrates how recentring the agency and creativity possessed by Sand’s situated heroines reveals key alternative forms of women’s artistic practice within their nineteenth-century contexts.

This thesis reveals how Sand’s fiction repeatedly functions as an extensive exploration of the lived experiences of women creating in a particular art form. Reading Sand’s stories of women artists for the narrative clashes that occur between her female artists’ testimony of lived experience and the dominant cultural narratives for both “the Artist” and “the Woman” highlights how Sand’s texts rewrite these dominant narratives to reflect better the lived experiences of female artists in nineteenth-century France. Consequently, my thesis addresses the dissonance between predominant representations of creative women participating in the cultural sphere (whether as monstrous Bas-bleu, frivolous dabbler, or muse) and the lived experiences of women artists, who were increasingly present and successful in the cultural sphere. Sand’s depictions of artists as women thus not only provide models for women’s artistic identities, but more importantly, demonstrate strategies through which women could continually produce interspaces for the development of their artistic identity as a response to, and a negotiation of, the historically framed contexts that allegedly defined them.
Date of Award12 Jun 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorMary Margaret Orr (Supervisor)


  • George Sand
  • Women artists
  • Lived experience
  • Women's artistic agency
  • Women's creativity
  • Narrative strategies
  • Narrative clash
  • Multiple art forms
  • Nineteenth-century France
  • Literary representation of the artist

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  • Full text embargoed until
  • 4 March 2029

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