Hello chums! Yesterday evening I finished watching Mona Lisa Smile (2003), which is a film I had never heard of before I stumbled across it on Netflix. Set in the 1950s, Mona Lisa Smile follows Katherine Ann Watson (Julia Roberts), who is considered a rather bohemian and modern woman, as she accepts a position teaching art history at Wellesley College, an ultra-conservative, all-girls institution in Massachusetts. Most of the girls at Wellesley are just there to bide their time until they are married, an idea which Katherine Watson disagrees with completely. The plot of the movie focuses around how Katherine Watson teaches her students to not only to expand their horizons when it comes to thinking about art, but she also teaches them that they can aspire to be more than just wives and mothers.
I thought this movie was completely wonderful – the 1950s New England setting was gorgeous, the cast was incredible (including not only Julia Roberts but other well-known names such as Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Ginnifer Goodwin), the writing was clever, and the feminist undertones were, in my opinion, very well-done. This move encompassed so many of my own interests – art history, feminism, academia, and America during the 1950s – that I thought it might be fun to put together a reading list inspired by the film. You can still enjoy all of these books even if you haven’t seen the film, but I hope that if you have this list might serve as a place where you can continue to explore some of the themes of the movie. Without further ado, let’s get into the list. 🙂 Continue reading “Art, Feminism, and the 1950s: A Mona Lisa Smile-Inspired Reading List”