Identity politics

Tara Isabella Burton: Self-Made, From Da Vinci to the Kardashians

Since the Renaissance, we've been increasingly able to define who we are as individuals. But is that a false freedom?


What does Kim Kardashian have in common with Leonardo Da Vinci?

Much more than you might have ever guessed, says Tara Isabella Burton, author of the new book Self-Made: Creating Our Identities From Da Vinci to the Kardashians. As in her previous work Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World, Tara explores the amazing and ever-increasing freedom we have to define our identities and all the complications, problems, and possibilities that come along with greater choice.

We talk about how figures as different as Frederick Douglass, Oscar Wilde, and Clara Bow exemplify aspects of self-fashioning; whether Kim, Kris, or Caitlyn Jenner is the ultimate Kardashian when it comes to reinvention; and how traditional and avant-garde cultures mix uneasily but inevitably in a free society.

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