Fabulas Feminae

By Susan Bee, Johanna Drucker


Litmus Press
Original Language(s)
Additional Credits
Cover art & images by Susan Bee
Shape-shifting text by Johanna Drucker
Production design by HR Hegnauer
Art, Collaboration, Hybrid Forms, Poetry
Edition, Year
First Edition, 2015
In Print

Fabulas Feminae contains two dozen profiles of famous women in a collaborative book project created by Susan Bee and Johanna Drucker. These two distinguished artists have combined their talents to produce a work that is contemporary in tone, a minor monumental tribute to a diverse gallery of heroic women from across history. The text was composed using a natural language-processing technique that samples a large corpus and compresses it algorithmically, mirroring the sampling techniques of collage practice in the visual images. Strikingly designed, with bold blocks of text that echo the graphic features in the imagery, the result is a fresh, engaging, and informative poetic work of historical and critical expression.

Johanna Drucker
Johanna Drucker is the Breslauer Professor in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA. She has published and lectured widely on topics related to digital humanities and aesthetics, book history and future designs, historiography of the alphabet and ... Read More
Susan Bee
Susan Bee is an artist living in Brooklyn. She is represented by A.I.R. Gallery in NYC, where she has had nine solo shows. She has had solo shows at many other venues and her work has been included in many ... Read More

The collages draw from popular culture imagery associated with each figure, using bright colors that jump off the spreads, while Drucker’s text is presented in equally dazzling colors and shapes, joining with images rather than simply appearing alongside them.

— Megan N. Liberty, Hyperallergic


In the tradition of Lives of the Saints and, even more pointedly, Laura (Riding) Jackson’s Lives of Wives, visual artist Susan Bee and book artist Johanna Drucker have created a wonderful new “picture” book, Fabulas Feminae or fables of women.

— Douglas Messerli, Hyperallergic


Praise for Fabulas Feminae

An homage to 25 legendary women through the centuries—from Susan B. Anthony to Susan Sontag, from Lizzie Borden to Lucille Ball—Fabulas Feminae is also a necessary intervention. When a famous life is over, the wild biography is often shaped to fit a tame narrative structure; Drucker and Bee use collage and algorithmic language processing to disrupt that pattern and make these lives wild again.

— Jena Osmon

Some day, one imagines, Susan Bee and Johanna Drucker will themselves appear as featured figures in a book like this one. For now, their revised martyrology presents a catalogue of some two-dozen new saints whose colorful lives appear in equally colorful spreads of condensed shaped text and eccentrically dispersed images. With their networked fields of iconic, schematic semiotics, these collaborations are fables of historiography itself. The result, predictably, is fabulous.

— Craig Dworkin

This book is a wonderful mixture of the scholarly, the feminist, the playful, and the girlish about fabulous women from his(her)story—queens, notorious assassins, novelists, sharp-shooters, divas, vanguard painters, suffragettes, comedic redheads, eccentric poets, visionary nuns, songstresses, saviors of their people by two fabulous feminists, artists and fabulists Susan Bee and Johanna Drucker. It will appeal to and inspire readers of all ages. Bee’s rich, sprightly, dense collages and Drucker’s sculptural text design are as interesting as art as the algorithmically dissociated but completely comprehensible and thrilling text.

— Mira Schor

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