As a student, I started out making art objects, not writing about them. To steal the words of the French historian Jules Michelet, you might say that I am an 'artist historian'. Before embarking on my PhD (under the direction of Helene Moglen and Hayden White), I received an MFA from the University of California, San Diego. At UCSD, I studied painting and film with the critic-painter Manny Farber. I learned about cinema from the filmmaker Jean Pierre Gorin. I learned about color and utopia from Patricia Patterson. I saw beyond 'objecthood' under the tutelage of performance greats like Allan Kaprow and Eleanor Antin. Inspired by my teachers, who were often writers and makers, I made my own artworks and wrote scripts. Performing within my sculpted, painted, carved, wallpapered, furnished scenes, I told stories of childhoods, real and imaginary. One performance was entitled 'Alice Malice'. 'Alice Malice' was the seed of my lifelong interest in Lewis Carroll. Thereafter, the relationship between writing and art-making was forever knitted for me.
While the scholarship performed in my 'Reading Boyishly: J.M. Barrie, Roland Barthes, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Marcel Proust and D.W. Winnicott (Duke 2007)' is paramount , I am equally interested in the way it looks and the way it feels in one's hands. (The designer of this handsome book is Amy Ruth Buchanan.) It is a scholar-object: a point that is regularly made in the book's reviews. "I love Mavor's book. I love even the way it looks and feels: a thick white block of fine paper, the text enhanced by different fonts, touches of sky-blue ink, and more than two hundred photographs.. . . 'Reading Boyishly' is a feast of words and images intricately linked to each other like a cat's cradle, constantly surprising, amusing, enlightening, and filling both eye and mind" (Lucy Rollin, 'Children's Literature Quarterly'). "It is a sigh of relief, this book, a defense of things that make us feel guilty: nostalgia, apron strings, the 'good-enough mother', the lost mother, the nest, the childhood home, the beauty of boys at play. . . . Food and kissing, eating and not eating, boredom and tenderness. Mavor's is a style to be savored" (Susan Salter Reynolds, 'Los Angeles Times'). "My book of the year is 'Reading Boyishly'...I have never read a book like it...my mind was set free to dance and flit by this thrilling mix of philosophy, photography and much more. It touched something very deep in me about what it is to be a creative man" (Grayson Perry, artist, 2003 Turner Prize winner, London's 'Sunday Observer').