Undergraduate Seminar: Homoeroticism and the Fine Arts
The course introduces aspects of queer visual culture in the Euro-American tradition, with emphasis on the period from the Enlightenment (late eighteenth century) to the present day. An introductory unit presents the “classical basis” of modern representations of male and female homoeroticism: how modern gay/lesbian and other non-standard sexual subcultures used imagery from the GrecoRoman world to represent possibilities of homoerotic sociability in the modern world. The remainder of the course deals with visual and material culture from the mid-eighteenth century in Europe and North America to the present day. Particular bodies of material have been chosen in order to emphasize different aspects of the rich array of evidence: different periods; different media; different countries; different social levels; and different kinds of gender, sexual, ethnic, and racial identification. The course tries to balance the presentist or contemporary orientation of much queer cultural analysis, which concentrates on the past forty years in First World countries, with an historical examination of past cultural histories. It places equal emphasis on the “high” or “fine” arts and popular or mass visual culture. In a research project, students will explore a tradition or body of evidence in depth.