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"The Multimedia of Our Unconscious Life": Anais Nin and the Synthesis of the Arts

Rehme, S; (2013) "The Multimedia of Our Unconscious Life": Anais Nin and the Synthesis of the Arts. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis explores Anaïs Nin’s idea of a synthesis of the arts in writing and its extension to different media through an analysis of her interdisciplinary collaborations with artists and composers in the United States of the 1950s and 1960s. I discuss these collaborations within the context of Nin’s unconventional understanding of the unconscious as multidimensional space and her interest in the sensory effects of different art forms, which are at the centre of Nin’s art theory. I look at the sources she drew on to formulate her ideas in Paris of the 1930s, including Symbolism, D.H. Lawrence’s writing, French Surrealism and various psychoanalytical models, and discuss how they relate to cultural and socio-political developments in America at mid-century. This includes a strong focus on Nin’s ambiguous negotiation of female identity and female creativity in her writing and the frictions it causes when it is translated into other media by her male collaborators. While Nin’s interest in different art forms and her attempt at imitating their sensuous effects in writing has been explored from a literary perspective, Nin’s extra-literary collaborations remain largely unexplored. Similarly, the work of most of the artists Nin collaborated with has not been analysed critically in a scholarly context. Unlike previous studies of Nin’s work, then, the approach of this thesis is an interdisciplinary analysis of her collaborations, which focuses equally on Nin’s writing and on the work and input of the artists she worked with. Each of the four chapters focuses on a different collaboration and art form including photomontage, film, music and collage. This thesis argues that Nin’s artistic encounters and her engagement with different art forms in America of the 1950s and 60s open up interesting new discourses around interdisciplinarity and gender, the legacy of surrealism in America and counterculture art production in the 1960s.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: "The Multimedia of Our Unconscious Life": Anais Nin and the Synthesis of the Arts
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed from ethesis.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History of Art
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1407702
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