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Eating the Lotus: New Critical Approaches to Neoclassical Sculpture

Gustin, Melissa L (2018) Eating the Lotus: New Critical Approaches to Neoclassical Sculpture. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This dissertation uses object-based case studies to explore how works by Emma Stebbins and Harriet Hosmer—and by extension, the broader field of American neoclassical sculptors—were influenced by the complex visual and historical field of Rome, 1852–1878. This project models different ways of reading and responding to sculptures which are complex works of classical translation, reference, and response, through an object-first and experience-based approach. I discuss four sculptures in three case studies: Hosmer’s Daphne and Medusa (1853, 1853/4), Stebbins’s The Lotus-Eater (1857/60), and Hosmer’s Pompeian Sentinel (1876/8). These case studies have been chosen for their rich, multivalent relationships to previous artistic models, texts, and visual spaces in Rome (both the modern city and the ancient empire). I bring together methodological and critical approaches that have not been previously used for American neoclassical scholarship, especially Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s definition of ‘camp’ and weak theory. I utilize literary models of classical reception, allusion, and intertext, theories of objects in relation to time and to other objects, ecological models, and archaeological theories. My object-first approach draws heavily on first-hand observation of sites in Rome and its surrounding areas, especially Pompeii. Within this thesis, I emphasize this first-hand experience along with the importance of travel to these sites as part of my research method through the strategic use of the first person and an emphasis on the intellectual, emotional responses to sites that I had. This reinforces my dissertation’s aim of enlivening the scholarly discourse around neoclassical scholarship as well as engaging in academic honesty, rather than upholding a dispassionate empiricism that does not reflect the methodological and critical approach of this project. These will be theoretically rich, chronologically complex, and emotionally engaged readings of these works, that embrace the multivalent, anachronic potentials of neoclassical sculpture.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > History of Art (York)
Depositing User: Miss Melissa L Gustin
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2018 11:56
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2018 11:56
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20534

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