The Male Body in Modernity, 1750-1880

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The Male Body in Modernity, 1750-1880

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Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Lock, 1777, Louvre Museum, Paris

Course Leader: Dr Satish Padiyar

The course focuses on the image of the male body from the European Enlightenment to early Modernism, in painting, sculpture, drawing and engraving, in the work of artists such as Boucher, Fragonard, David, Canova, Ingres, Géricault, Courbet, Caillebotte, and Rodin.

The political and theoretical challenges of feminism provoked a range of cultural responses about men and masculinity. Since the 1990s there has been continuing debate about whether masculinity is irrevocably ‘in crisis’, due to the erosion of once-secure gender boundaries, sexual identities and roles. From a contemporary perspective, the course will address a number of questions about masculinity, representation and modernity. How might we understand the shift in history painting from the more fluid eighteenth-century androgynous male nudes to modernism’s hyper-inflated masculinities? What happens to the idealized classical body in the face of a powerful emerging concentration on modernity and modern life? Seminars will also focus on questions of the aestheticized male body’s relation to colonialized and racialized others, the homosocial and military ethos, the pornographic body, queer bodies and the shifting history of sexuality.

Central to the course will be theories of self, sexuality, desire and vision, as articulated by Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Jacques Lacan, Eve Sedgwick, Kaja Silverman, Klaus Theweleit, and others.

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