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seminar: Prof. Anthea Callen (Australian National University / University of Nottingham) 'Looking at Men: Art, Anatomy and the Modern Male Body'

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Location: IAS seminar room, Millburn House, University of Warwick

A joint event with History of Art.

Presentation, discussion, refreshments. All are welcome.

ABSTRACT

Prof. Callen will discuss material from her recent book Looking at Men https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300112948/looking-men

Beginning in 1800, Looking at Men explores how the modern male body was forged through the intimately linked professions of art and medicine, which deployed muscular models and martial arts to renew the beau idéal. This ideal of the virile body derived from the athletic perfection found in the classical male nude. The study of human anatomy and dissection in both art and medicine underpinned a modern gladiatorial ideal, its representations setting the parameters not just of ‘normal’ virile masculinity but also its abject ‘other’. Through the shared violence of human dissection and martial arts, male artists and medics secured their professional privilege and authority on the bodies of ‘roughs’. First and foremost visual, this process has literary parallels in Frankenstein and Jekyll and Hyde. While embodying signs of dominant power and signalling differences of race, class, gender and sexuality, the virile masculine ideal contained its shadow, the threat of loss, of a Darwinian ‘degeneration’ that required vigilant intervention to ensure the health of nations.

oil painting: The Anatomy class at the École des Beaux Arts, by Francois Salle, 1888

image: detail of The Anatomy Class at the École des Beaux Arts
Francois Sallé, 1888
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