Introduction

“I have sat in silent reverential awe with eyes intent upon the marble face of Harriet Hosmer’s Beatrice Cenci. I have no power to express my hope, my joy, my renewed faith in womanhood. In the accomplishment of that grand work of the sculptor’s chisel, making that cold marble breathe and pulsate, Harriet Hosmer has done more to ennoble and elevate than she could possibly have done by words, it matters not how Godlike,” Susan B. Anthony wrote after seeing Harriet Hosmer’s statue Beatrice Cenci (1857) at the Academy of Design in New York in 1857. Hosmer (1830-1909), born in Watertown, Massachusetts, was one of the first American women to achieve international fame as a sculptor. She had moved to Rome in 1852, joining the community of American and English artists and writers who gathered there in the nineteenth century. After studying with the sculptor John Gibson, she quickly found success with busts and sculptures of powerful women such as Daphne (1853), Medusa (1854), Oenone (1854-55), and Zenobia in Chains (1859). Despite Anthony’s suggestion that she could accomplish more with her chisel than she could with a pen, Hosmer did at times turn to writing, including an article in the December 1864 Atlantic Monthly defending women artists against sexist charges they did not do their own work.

This site is dedicated to her little-known play 1975: A Prophetic Drama, part of a tradition of feminist science fiction that uses time travel to envision worlds in which technology has changed society and women have gained rights and power.

Historian Kate Culkin first encountered  this play while doing research on Harriet Hosmer for her book Harriet Hosmer: A Cultural Biography. She is annotating the text. Artist Jody Culkin is creating the animations.

The text of the play is taken from a printed copy in the Anne Hampton Brewster Papers, held at the Library Company of Philadelphia. (The play is now shelved with the book collection). The banner picture is taken from that copy, and we thank the Library Company for permission to use it.

This site currently is an evolving project. Check back regularly to see what we have added to the site.

The Play

Bibliography

About Us

Harriet Hosmer (1830-1908) was one of the first American women to gain international fame as a sculptor. She was born in Watertown, Massachusetts, to Sarah Grant and Hiram Hosmer, a physician. After attending the Sedgwick School, she moved to Italy, on the invitation of the actress Charlotte Cushman. Studying with the British sculptor John Gibson, she soon achieved recognization for works such as Beatrice Cenci (1857) and Zenobia in Chains (1861), her best known work. She also dedicated years to attempting to design a perpetual motion machine.

Jody Culkin is an artist who has shown her sculptures, photographs and new media pieces at museums and galleries throughout this country and internationally. She is a Professor at CUNY’s Borough of Manhattan Community College in the Media Arts and Technology Department. With Eric Hagan, she is the co-author of Learn Electronics with Arduino: An Illustrated Beginner’s Guide to Physical Computing (Maker Media, 2017).

Photograph of Kate Culkin and a small model of Zenobia in Chains at the St. Louis Art Museum.

Kate Culkin is a Professor of History at Bronx Community College, City University of New York. She is the author of Harriet Hosmer: A Cultural Biography (UMass Press, 2010) and an associate editor of the Harriet Jacobs Family Papers (UNC Press, 2008). She has recently written about the election of Susan B. Anthony and Lillian Wald to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans.