Homoeroticism in neoclassical poetics: French translations of the ideal male nude in late-eighteenth-century word and image

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Padiyar, S. (1999)
  • Publisher: University of London

The thesis consists of four chapters, an Introduction and a Conclusion. The Introduction considers the theoretical frameworks within which recent readings of the late-eighteenth-century French homoerotic ideal male nude have been developed; and how these readings have in turn emerged from a wider extra-art-historical discourse on the sexual politics of representation and the representation of sexual politics. A clear picture of the ideal male nude as a contested field emerges; and a justification of the materials which will be used in the thesis clarifies their critical engagement with these polemical debates surrounding the object of study. Chapter 1 is in two parts. Part one deals with the possibilities of a textual representation of homosexuality in French neoclassical poetics by focusing on the notion of 'anacréontisme' as a synonym for 'veiled' homoeroticism. Contrary to the present understanding of the notion, it is argued here, by recourse to successive French translations of the Greek source text, that homosexuality was explicitly problematized in the development of anacréontisme as a critical term, rather than consensually hidden. Part two reviews a social history of homosexuality in eighteenth-century France, in order to contextualize the preceding anacreontic debate. A Kantian reading of the beau ideal, in Chapter 3, attempts to contradict the now dominant understanding of this figure as being simply a high-cultural sign of patriarchal dominance. The chapter traces the philosophical coordinates of the beau ideal from the late seventeenth century until the moment when this figure coincides with the Kantian transcendental aesthetic, and thereby propels it into an anti-ideological space. Chapters 4 and 5 focus on a prime exemplar in current art-historical literature of the homoerotic male nude, David's painting Leonidas at Thermopylae. Chapter 4 argues for a newly politicized reading of the picture, by focusing on its sociohistorical moment. Chapter 5 reads David's painting through selected texts, and commentary on, Sade, in order to account for its 'perversity' in more ways than the simply sexual. Leonidas is finally understood here as a repositary of the various histories which have been precedingly traced. the Conclusion reflects on how those methodological procedures may open out the study of the homoerotic male nude and the construction of masculinity to further examination.
  • References (6)

    4 on the political climate of mid-sixth century Greece see C.M. Bowra, Greek Lyric Poetry, Chapter VII, Oxford, 1936.

    5 "nam Acreontis quidem tota poesis est amatoria", Greek Lyric, test.20, p.39.

    2.0 1571 1572, 1573 (X3), 1574, 1577. Maurice Verdier,'Les Introvables Editions Des Odes D'Anacréon', Bibliothèque D'Humanisme Et Renaissance, XXXIII, 1971. Davis, Whitney, "Winckelmann Divided: Mourning the Death of Art History", in Journal of Homosexuality, vol. 27, Nos. 1/2, p.141-161.

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    - Diderot on Art, Vol. II, translated by John Goodman, Yale University Press, 1995. Dieckmann, Herbert, "Esthetic Theory and Criticism in the Enlightenment: Some Examples of Modern Trends", in Robert Mollenauer, Introduction to Modernity. A Symposium on Eighteenth-Century Thought, University of Texas Press, 1965. Dollimore, Jonathon, Sexual Dissidence: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault, Clarendon Press Oxford, 1991. Dover, Kenneth, Greek homosexuality, New York, 1980. Eagleton, Terry, The Ideology of the Aesthetic, Basil Blackwell, 1990. Egger, Emile, L'Hellenisme en France, Paris, 1869. Ellul, Jacques, Histoire de Ia Propogande, Paris, 1967. Eméric-David, T.B., Recherches sur l'art statuaire considéré chez les anciens et chez les modernes, Paris, 1805. Farge, Arlette, La Vie Fragile: Violence, pouvoirs et solidarités au XVIII siècle, Hachette Paris, 1986.

    - w. Jacques Revel, The Rules of Rebellion: child abductions in Paris in 1750 (translation of Logiques de la Joule, Paris 1988), Polity Press, 1991.

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