Male Trouble: A Crisis in Representation

Thames and Hudson, 1999 - 264 pages
Why did the male nude become an object of spectacle and erotic display in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries? Why was the male nude later eclipsed by the female nude? Why have historians ignored this "crisis" in the representation of masculinity, characterized by a taste for feminized male bodies? In this pioneering and compelling book, Abigail Solomon-Godeau shows that the masculine ideal, whether in the guise of martial, virile heroes or languishing, disempowered youths, raises important questions about the fashioning of masculinity itself. Examining the different forms of ideal manhood in relation to the cataclysms of the French Revolution and to international Neoclassicism, she explores how and why the beautiful male body dominated the visual culture of the time and appealed so powerfully to male spectators. Drawing on feminist, psychoanalytic, and critical theory, as well as on art and cultural history, Solomon-Godeau proposes a radical revision of Neoclassical visual culture as it relates to the emerging bourgeois order, demonstrating how both reflect the status of women.

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