Martha Graham’s Gilded Cage: Blood Memory—An Autobiography (1991)

Phillips, Victoria

Historians and dance critics alike have used phrases from Martha Graham’s Blood Memory: An Autobiography (1991) as though it were written in her own hand, despite concerns about the degree of her authorship expressed upon the book’s publication and repeated complaints from those who danced with her (Garafola 1993; McDonagh 1992). With little else to go on, scholars (including myself) have quoted Blood Memory as evidence to support their arguments. In Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity (1993), Howard Gardner uses the book to unpack the mind of Graham as an innovator. Susan Ware, in her study of twentieth-century women, quotes Blood Memory as part of her analysis of those “who shaped the American century” (1998). Victoria Thoms deploys theories of “ghosting” to investigate Blood Memory (2008). Yet between 1989 and 1991, when Blood Memory was being prepared for publication, Graham’s health rapidly deteriorated. Indeed, these years mark a period in which Graham would have been little able to manage the rigors of crafting an autobiography.


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January 8, 2018