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Roman Eyes : Visuality and Subjectivity in Art and Text - Jas Elsner

Roman Eyes

Visuality and Subjectivity in Art and Text

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In "Roman Eyes," Jas Elsner seeks to understand the multiple ways that art in ancient Rome formulated the very conditions for its own viewing, and as a result was complicit in the construction of subjectivity in the Roman Empire.

Elsner draws upon a wide variety of visual material, from sculpture and wall paintings to coins and terra-cotta statuettes. He examines the different contexts in which images were used, from the religious to the voyeuristic, from the domestic to the subversive. He reads images alongside and against the rich literary tradition of the Greco-Roman world, including travel writing, prose fiction, satire, poetry, mythology, and pilgrimage accounts. The astonishing picture that emerges reveals the mindsets Romans had when they viewed art--their preoccupations and theories, their cultural biases and loosely held beliefs.

"Roman Eyes" is not a history of official public art--the monumental sculptures, arches, and buildings we typically associate with ancient Rome, and that tend to dominate the field. Rather, Elsner looks at smaller objects used or displayed in private settings and closed religious rituals, including tapestries, ivories, altars, jewelry, and even silverware. In many cases, he focuses on works of art that no longer exist, providing a rare window into the aesthetic and religious lives of the ancient Romans.

"This volume is and will remain a significant contribution to the discourse on Roman art. What it does, it does admirably although it clings tenaciously to a single approach with its own limitations. It is useful as one piece of a complex puzzle about the intentions and reception of art."--Diana E. E. Kleiner, International Journal of the Classical Tradition "The handsomely produced book ... [is] sure to do much to shift the parameters of Roman 'art history' even further and to enrich its discussion."--Peter Stewart, Art History "[V]ery well and clearly written ... and well presented... Roman Eyes in particular counts as a bargain these days."--Victor Castellani, European Legacy "A book that is largely a collection of previously published papers runs the risk of presenting a disjointed argument. But that is not the case here. Elsner's revisions have provided a complex, but coherent argument that explores the act of viewing in the GrecoRoman world and makes a number of important observations. The interweaving of text and image, the exploration of cult practice and the discussion of private art in its context means that the book will be of interest to more than those interested in art history. It deserves to find a prominent place in collections dealing with Roman material culture."--John Geyssen, Phoenix

Between mimesis and divine power : visuality in the Greco-Roman worldp. 1
Image and ritual : Pausanias and the sacred culture of Greek artp. 29
Discourses of style : connoisseurship in Pausanias and Lucianp. 49
Ekphrasis and the gaze : from Roman poetry to domestic wall paintingp. 67
Viewing and creativity : Ovid's Pygmalion as viewerp. 113
Viewer as image : intimations of Narcissusp. 132
Viewing and decadence : Petronius' picture galleryp. 177
Genders of viewing : visualizing women in the casket of projectap. 200
Viewing the gods : the origins of the icon in the visual culture of the Roman Eastp. 225
Viewing and resistance : art and religion in Dura Europosp. 253
Epilogue : from Diana via Venus to Isis : viewing the deity with Apuleiusp. 289
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691096773
ISBN-10: 0691096775
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 376
Published: 26th March 2007
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 26.2 x 18.6  x 2.7
Weight (kg): 0.96