Homoeroticism in neoclassical poetics: French translations of the ideal male nude in late-eighteenth-century word and image
- 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
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
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.
views in local repository
downloads in local repository
The information is available from the following content providers: