The Eternal Return!

I loved this article and have so many questions that I would like to discuss.  One issue that I would like your feedback on is whether or not you think these ideas pertain to photography only.  I have published an article utilizing the notion of punctum and the reception of the Well of Moses; in other words, I find the concept of representation’s ability to both preserve and kill an image simultaneously, to serve as a screen, a fetish, a source of punctum and studium, and site of performativity —viable in painting and sculpture as well as in photography.  (I am not speaking here of the subtle refinements that Jones contributes to the definition of self-portraiture—which are amazing!).  What do you think about the weighty role given to the viewer?  The notion of embodiment —discuss!  In footnote 22 Jones invokes O’Dell’s theory re: the photographic document of the performance as a link between the body of the performer and the body of the viewer.  In my work on the Entombment sculptures, I write about them as embodiments of the suffering of the community witnessing the death of Christ.  They perform this moment in time, so that the worshiper may project him or herself into the narrative, engendering a type of catharsis.  Does that sound plausible?  On page 971, how do the self-portraits of Sherman, Wilke, Ashton Harris, and Aguilar differ in their invocation of death from Renaissance memento mori?  Doesn’t Jones’ statement on page 972 re: art’s capacity to embrace the other and the radical benefits thereof make you want to sing an aria to the whole discipline?


Article for April 2!
The “Eternal Return”: Self-Portrait Photography as a Technology of Embodiment Amelia Jones Signs Vol. 27, No. 4 (Summer 2002), pp. 947-978 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL:

The “Eternal Return”: Self-Portrait Photography as a Technology of Embodiment Amelia Jones Signs Vol. 27, No. 4 (Summer 2002), pp. 947-978 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL:

Women in the 18th century!

1.  What are some of the outcomes associated with women’s admission to the Academy?  What are some of the ironies about this turn of events?

2. Why was the Academie de Saint-Luc founded?  Why did it “fold?”

3.  How did the English Academy differ from the French one?  Did the membership of Kauffmann and Moser in the academy work against them in a way?

4.  What role did women play in the urban intelligentia?  How did this social institution help women outside the aristocracy?

5.  Do you feel that Francoise Duparc’s paintings convey a moral message?

6.  What strikes you as unusual about the oeuvre of Vallayer-Coster?

7.  What does Chadwick mean when she says that Vigee-LeBrun and Labille-Guiard manipulate their brushstrokes to emphasize gender? (p. 160)  Do you agree?

8.  How does the Cult of Motherhood influence the style and content of works of this period?

9.  What do you make of the rivalry between Labille-Guiard and Vigee-LeBrun? Do you find this problematic?

Royal Rivals!

Katherine is our guide through the regency of Catherine de’ Medici and her artistic campaign to cast Diane de Poitiers in the shade.  Just some things to think about as you read this article:  Waging a campaign with art is a particularly sophisticated type of warfare!  How does Caron’s imagery reinforce Catherine’s role as regent?  How strong is ffolliott’s argument about women in power having to have distinct imagery from that of men in power?  How does Caron subvert Diane’s former position of power?  What is the significance of Cellini’s  relief of the Nymph of Fontainebleau?  How does the gender of the architectural orders come into play in this article? Are your convinced by the author’s interpretation of “The Petitions?”  Does ffolliott take the “eclipse” of Diane too far into the realm of interpretation?

Reading in Chadwick for following weeks

It is my firm conviction that a syllabus is a living thing, one not bound by ink to paper.  It is in this spirit —and the desire to join the 21st century—that the following modifications have been made:

Read chapters 5 and 6 for next week; chapters 7 and 8 for the week of April 2; chapters 8 and 9 for the week of April 9; and chapters 10 and 11 for the week of April 16.

We will discuss Gertsman’s readings on Monday the 9th of April. I will take one and Lola, do you want to trade your article in for the other?  We can decide this on Monday.

Readings for Elina Gertsman’s Visit

Gail Gibson, “Scene and Obscene:  Seeing and Performing Late Medieval Childbirth,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 29: 1 (1999): 7-24 (available via PDF through database accessible through Sophia—not Jstor).

Secondly, Charles T. Wood, “The Docotor’s Dilemma:  Sin, Salvation, and the Menstrual Cycle in Medieval Thought,” Speculum 56: 4 (1981): 710-727 (on Jstor).

Let’s read these and discuss them in preparation for her talk on April 13, 2012.  We will discuss in class when that will take place!  Onward.

Thinking through the (Catholic) Body!

Once again, Rosie will lead us in this discussion, however a few discussion questions follow:

1.  What does the author mean when she uses the term “incarnational” thinking?

2.  We have discussed the “schizophrenia” induced by the counterpoint of Eve and Mary. However, the Virgin Mary is also rich in contradictory messages.  How did the Medieval thinkers deal with the Virgin’s dual nature?  The Catholic thinkers? The Protestants?

3.  How did Feminists of the 1970s interpret Mary’s dual persona?  And does this change in the 1980s and later?

4.  I was so excited to see Bernard of Clairvaux in this article!  What ingredient does he add to the Virgin?  And how does Christian theology get around it?

5.  “In Catholic imagination, women’s roles exist along a continuum suggested by Mary….and Mary Magdalene.”  Discuss.

6.  The positive reading of the female body had numerous fans in early Feminism from Woman House to goddess cults.  What happens in the next decade to alter this?

7.  Is the debate between the “essentialists” and “deconstructionists” over?

8.  Consider the works by the artists discussed in this article (Hannah Wilke, Barbara Kruger, (briefly), Renee Cox, Kiki Smith, Janine Antoni, Petah Coyne, and Lisa Yuskavage). Is there a “Catholic” sensibility that unifies these artists?  Whose work resonates the most with you?  Does Catholicism provide the “visual language for reimagining oppressive roles and assumptions?”

Salome and the Canons

Rosie will have the final word on this article, but here are a few questions to mull over.  Whose story does Seidel think is being told on the capitals of St. Etienne at Toulouse?  Who was the audience for these capitals and how does that impact the style of narrative adopted?  What is the relationship between St. John the Baptist and Christ and how does that color the reading of the Feast of Herod and its aftermath?  Finally, how is Salome characterized on the two sets of capitals and do you agree with Seidel’s interpretation?

At last Artemisia!

1.  Chadwick places Artemisia Gentileschi at the end of the Renaissance chapter rather than in the category of Baroque art of the seventeenth century.  Do you feel that she “belongs” there or do you see her oeuvre in a different light than the other artists we have discussed?

2.  Does Artemisia’s training follow the pattern we have encountered thus far?  How does it differ?

3.  In what ways does the rape by Agostino Tassi impact Artemisia’s work?  Do you see a danger in reading too much into her strong female biblical heroines in light of the sexual trauma she experienced?

4.  Perhaps equally egregious was the trial that ensued after Orazio brought suit against Tassi. The transcripts for this trial still exist!  One month after the trial ended, Artemisia married a Florentine, moved to Florence and joined the Academy in 1616.  Discuss her path in light of her personal history.

5.  Consider Artemisia’s Susanna and the Elders.  Mary Garrard speaks about the sober expression in this painting of the reality of women’s “confined and vulnerable position in a society whose rules are made by men.”  She contrasts this vulnerability to the “castrating” and violent nature of Artemisia’s renderings of Judith.  Discuss.