Nabokov’s “fascination with ways of seeing and voyeurism” (Wyllie 2005) in Lolita draws attention to what and how his narrator Humbert Humbert sees, his scopophilia, and the photographic and cinematic terms he uses to present himself and his story. Contemporary readers’ attentions have moved between the center of Humbert’s frame of vision and its peripheries, the self, and the world outside the text. This embeds Lolita in a lateral series of affiliations—memoirs, adaptations, appropriations—that brings historical modes of seeing into the present. A similar dynamic is now shaping the reception of feminist art of the 1970s as critics reconsider these works in ways that are not exclusively archival, foregrounding the relevance of feminist art to the present. The feminist photographer Marcia Resnick dedicated her book Re-visions (1978/2019) to Humbert, using photographs and text to challenge his premise that photography or film could make the subject “mine, mine, mine” (Nabokov, 161). Resnick’s staged photographs of female adolescence remediate Lolita’s vocabulary of seeing through appropriation and memoir. In comparing the contemporary reception of Lolita and Resnick's visual art, this talk considers how both recontextualize ways of seeing recovered from the past.
Dr. Lisa Ryoko Wakamiya is an associate professor and director of the Slavic Program at Florida State University, where she is also a courtesy associate professor of English in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics. Among her works are “Resisting Humbert's Rhetorical Appeals: A Reevaluation of Lolita's Ethics” (2021) and “Writers-Collectors: Mimesis and Transmissibility in Nabokov and Benjamin” (2018) and Locating Exiled Writers in Contemporary Russian Literature: Exiles at Home (2009).
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