Women and Portraits in Early Modern Europe: Gender, Agency, Identity

1st Edition

Andrea Pearson

Routledge
Published October 19, 2016
Reference - 244 Pages
ISBN 9781138259447 - CAT# Y313877
Series: Women and Gender in the Early Modern World

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Summary

As one of the first books to treat portraits of early modern women as a discrete subject, this volume considers the possibilities and limits of agency and identity for women in history and, with particular attention to gender, as categories of analysis for women's images. Its nine original essays on Italy, the Low Countries, Germany, France, and England deepen the usefulness of these analytical tools for portraiture. Among the book's broad contributions: it dispels false assumptions about agency's possibilities and limits, showing how agency can be located outside of conventional understanding, and, conversely, how it can be stretched too far. It demonstrates that agency is compatible with relational gender analysis, especially when alternative agencies such as spectatorship are taken into account. It also makes evident the importance of aesthetics for the study of identity and agency. The individual essays reveal, among other things, how portraits broadened the traditional parameters of portraiture, explored transvestism and same-sex eroticism, appropriated aspects of male portraiture to claim those values for their sitters, and, as sites for gender negotiation, resistance, and debate, invoked considerable relational anxiety. Richly layered in method, the book offers an array of provocative insights into its subject.

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