A Political History of the Nude

Starts 07 February 2018 - 13:00
Finishes 07 February 2018 - 14:00
Venue Birkbeck, University of London. Dreyfus Room, 28 Russell Sqaure, London WC1B 5DT (Entrance through 26 Russell Square)
Booking details
Free entry; first come, first seated
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Event description

Special Session of the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology Lunchtime Seminar

Speaker: Professor Henk de Smaele, University of Antwerp and Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality Visiting Research Fellow (January-July 2018)

In this talk, I will outline the basic premises of my new monograph provisionally titled A Political History of the Nude: Citizenship, Sexuality and the Body in the Modern West. Although it is generally acknowledged that the power of masculinity resides mainly in its ‘unmarked’ position (masculinity as unspoken, implicit norm), gender historians tend to focus in their empirical research on explicit and ‘spectacular’ expressions of masculinity. In my book, I am trying to study the mechanisms of ‘unmarking’ at work in the history of Western masculinities, roughly between the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the twenty-first. After a general discussion of this framework, I will illustrate my main points by showing how the rise of Romanticism and Liberalism in France and England in the first half of the nineteenth century required a backlash against the male nude in mainstream visual culture (as well as a promotion of the female nude).”

Henk de Smaele is professor of History at the University of Antwerp (Belgium). His work focuses on the history of gender and sexuality, as well as on the relations between ‘Europe’ and the ‘Middle-East’ in the 19th and 20th centuries. Apart from articles in journals like Gender and History and Journal of Women’s History, he recently published (with Tine Van Osselaer en Kaat Wils) Sign or Symptom? Exceptional Corporeal Phenomena in Religion and Medicine in the 19th and 20th Centuries (Leuven University Press, 2017) and (with Houssine Alloul and Edhem Eldem) To Kill a Sultan: A Transnational History of the Attempt on Sultan Abdülhamid II (1905) (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). He is also co-chair of the Belgian Archive for Women’s History (Brussels). He is also currently a visiting fellow with Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality.