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  • 1.
    Ohlsson, Hélène
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Culture and Aesthetics.
    ”Gudomlig, ingenting mindre än gudomlig!”: Skådespelerskan Ellen Hartmans iscensättningar på scen och i offentlighet2018Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The purpose of the thesis is to examine the diva femininity, career strategies, and acting style of the Swedish actress Ellen Hartman (1860-1945). The aim is to highlight her importance to Swedish theater during the fin-de-siècle. The dissertation is a contribution to the history of actresses and explores her gender performance and diva codes and how they influenced her career strategies and acting style. The analysis is based on Tracy C. Davis’s feminist historiography, Mimi Schippers’s notion of pariah femininity, and Wayne Koestenbaum's concept of diva codes.

    Historical contextualisation, critical imaginativeness, and actors’ embodied knowledge are the methodologies used in the present thesis. The study emphasizes the close interplay of the gendered contexts and structures that framed Hartman’s career strategies, acting style and performance. The conclusion thereby underlines the idea that Hartman as a popular actress challenged the gender norms of her time and contributed to the empowerment of women in Sweden. As an actress, Hartman was a forerunner and thereby became a pioneer of Swedish modern acting.

  • 2.
    Ohlsson, Hélène
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Culture and Aesthetics.
    När Dramatens diva smittade Helsingfors med feber: En undersökning av Ellen Hartmans gästspel i Finland 18892019In: I avantgardets skugga: Brytpunkter och kontinuitet i svensk teater kring 1900 / [ed] Rikard Hoogland, Göteborg: Göteborgs universitet, 2019, p. 169-202Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    When the Swedish diva infected Helsinki with fever. An investigation of Ellen Hartman’s guest performance in Finland 1889

    During the autumn of 1889 Ellen Hartman, the star of the Royal Dramatic theatre in Stockholm, made a guest performance in Helsinki that resulted in a literal ‘Hartman fever’. This chapter is an analysis of this event and a contribution to the history of actresses, divas and celebrity studies. What did Ellen Hartman do on stage to create a success that was regarded as unsurpassed? And what expressions of admiration were seen amongst the audience?The analysis of the sources reveals Hartman’s strategy to represent herself as a diva where her performance was to be the focus, rather than the plays or their mise-en-scène. Hartman’s acting style was perceived as modern and absolutely “natural” and her embodied femininity, that was a predecessor to the so-called flapper, was a novelty. The sources also show that the audience surrounded her with processes that gave tribute to her as their chosen diva in accordance with contemporary diva codes. I argue that Hartman’s guest performance 1889 comprised both a prevision of the next century through her femininity and acting style, and on the same time was founded in a diva tradition that had long roots back in history.

  • 3.
    Ohlsson, Hélène
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Culture and Aesthetics.
    Pariafemininitetens återuppståndelse: Diskurser om skådespelerskor runt sekelskiftet 19002016In: Lambda Nordica: Tidskrift om homosexualitet, ISSN 1100-2573, no 1-2, p. 80-106Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The article discusses the strategies for to go beyond the boundaries of normative femininity in Sweden during the 1890s. The case study is the contemporary popular actress Ellen Hartman’s strategies for a comeback in Stockholm. In 1891, she had created a scandal by breaking her contract with the Royal Dramatic Theater, eloping with a lover, and divorcing her husband. She wanted to remarry, but the plan backfired and she was abandoned. She became a victim of a smearing campaign in the Scandinavian press that portrayed her as a promiscuous and manipulative diva. By examining this discourse with the tools of critical femininity theories, I argue that actresses were regarded as a pariah femininity because of their occupation and class. The diva concept is discussed as femininity in a category of its own. As a larger than life character that defies her social shame divas embodies a feministic potential. By following the smearing campaign against Hartman, I argue that it had ideological overtones. The conservative papers stood for the slandering, while the liberal papers worked for her comeback. I argue that this political feud reflects anxiety about modern femininity where conservative forces sought control over which categories of femininity should be acceptable in the modern Swedish society.Hartman became a refugee in shame and moved to Paris. She wanted to launch an international career. By letters and interviews in the press, it is possible to follow her strategies. She immediately started to improve her French and use her network. Through her connection with famous French actor Coquelin aîné, she got an offer to be his co-star in his upcoming tour to Russia and Scandinavia. She also took the diva concept, which originally was meant by the press as derogatory, and used it to her advantage. In interviews to liberal Scandinavian papers from Paris, Hartman discursively transformed her image to a diva. Through a photo by the famous French photographer Nadar, she appears as a glamorous woman who is also a hard working artist, loved by the audience and rewarded by the establishment. It is a visual self-representation as a diva. As a star in Coqulin’s company she made her first comeback in Stockholm as a French-speaking actress. By the audience’s reactions, it became clear that a more permanent comeback would be possible. Hartman returned to Paris, studied at the Conservatory and then made a successful debut in Versailles. Thereafter she was contracted at the prestigious Théâtre du Vaudeville in Paris and had some success. However, she soon decided to return to Stockholm permanently in November 1893. Now her popularity reached zenith. The diva persona combined with her association with personal notoriety transformed her into a gender model that definitely obtained her authenticity as a diva. I argue that by overcoming her social shame and reinvent her self as a diva, she managed to transgress the boundaries of contemporary idealized femininity and embody a feministic potential.

  • 4.
    Ohlsson, Hélène
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Culture and Aesthetics.
    Representing Pariah Femininity: Sexuality, gender, and class at the fin-de-siècle2017In: Nordic Theatre Studies, ISSN 0904-6380, E-ISSN 2002-3898, Vol. 29, no 1, p. 44-63Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article discusses the representation of an actress’s sexuality, femininity, and class at the fin-de-siècle with an emphasis on pariah femininity. The central empirical sources for this study are the correspondence between King Oscar II (1829-1907) and Baroness Henriette Coyet (1859-1941) about the famous actress Ellen Hartman (1860-1945). Tracy C. Davis’s feminist historiographical methodology is put to use in the analysis in combination with Mimi Shipper’s notion pariah femininity. The analysis of the correspondence shows how the actress Ellen Hartman’s femininity was discursively constructed as pariah femininity embodying asexuality, excessive sexuality, and of a degenerate moral. It is argued that Hartman’s specific kind of pariah femininity is based on a perceived threat triggered by her public profession, sexual history and social ambition. Her body was sexualized, her sexuality demonized, and her appearance downgraded to defuse the threatening presence of her profession, femininity, and class. The historical sources also show a change of attitudes toward intersections of femininities and class.

  • 5.
    Ohlsson, Hélène
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Culture and Aesthetics.
    Rivaling Femininities-Jenny Lind and Emelie Hogqvist: The Emergence of Multiple Femininities and Female Identity2018In: European Romantic Review, ISSN 1050-9585, E-ISSN 1740-4657, Vol. 29, no 1, p. 63-77Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This essay studies two rival representations of femininity at the Royal Theatre in Stockholm 1835-45. Jenny Lind and Emelie Högqvist embodied these different femininities through their stage persona, their image, and their legacy. The theoretical perspective is of gender studies with a particular focus on critical femininity studies. The two divas' respective self-representations and strategies for fashioning their celebrity are linked here to the concepts of idealized femininity and pariah femininity. It is argued that both femininities exemplify different branches of modernity that were crucial to nineteenth-century female identity and that still echo in society today.

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