Corroded with SCUM

Valerie Solanas and Negative States of Mind

by Elizabeth A. Wilson

In a letter to Andy Warhol in August of 1967, Valerie Solanas reports that she has almost finished writing the SCUM Manifesto and plans to start hawking it on the streets in the next few days: “SCUM’s about to get into high gear.” She anticipates that once the manifesto hits the streets, “the world’ll be corroded with SCUM.” (Letter from Valerie Solanas to Andy Warhol, August 1, 1967, Archives Collection, The Andy Warhol Museum).

As time has passed, however, the world seems less corroded by SCUM than enlivened, inspired, and amused by it. In the years since 1967 the SCUM Manifesto has become a well-regarded and widely circulated text in anglophone feminist literatures. Now mostly an object of veneration, it is not gnawing away at the world with the intensity that Solanas wished for in 1967.

Returning to Solanas’s corrosive ambitions for the manifesto, this project will read for what might still be disruptive about Solanas’s text. In particular, how are the conventions of feminist scholarship and politics razed by this incendiary document? Special attention will be paid to anger in feminist literatures.

Village Voice ad, 9 February 1967, p. 24

The monograph from this research will be structured as a series of small, digitally enhanced chapters, with an interdisciplinary readership in mind. This project is part of the 2022-2024 Digital Monograph Writers Workshop (funded by the Mellon Foundation and Emory College) and is supported in 2023-2024 by a Senior Fellowship at the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry.

As this project develops I will post some information to help you find resources about Solanas. The SCUM Manifesto, the play Up Your Ass, and letters by Solanas are copyright protected and cannot be posted here.

The final monograph will be available here as an Open Access book.

Research from this project has been presented at: • Emory University Symposium for Psychoanalysis and Politics, October 22, 2022 • Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London, October 27 2022 • Center for Gender Research, University of Uppsala, October 12 2023 • Modern Language Association, Philadelphia, January 7 2024 • School of Social Science, Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton April 15 2024

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Research profile available at ORCID