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Beasts and Beauties

Beasts and Beauties: Animals, Gender, and Domestication in the Italian Renaissance

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    Beasts and Beauties
    Book Description:

    Beasts and Beautiesexamines the relationship between domesticity and power by focusing on the contemporaneous development of the invention of the 'pet' and the delineation of the home as a uniquely private enclosure, where the pater familias ruled over his own secluded world of domesticated wife, children, servants, and animals.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9788-1
    Subjects: History, Philosophy, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    ‘Post-humanism’ would seem to be the critical watchword of the day, as if we had miraculously stepped into some marvellous and presumably more expansive way of being than the old tired hegemony of old-fashioned humanism with its flawed privilege granted to all things white, male, and European. Historically, this view has been encouraged by the rise of various social movements in the twentieth century, including those connected to feminism, civil rights, and decolonization. Intellectually, the primary work of demolishing the received assumptions of classical humanism was spearheaded by the various strands of critical theory from the Frankfurt School through poststructuralism,...

  6. 1 ‘Jewels of Women’: Ladies, Laps, and Lapdogs in Renaissance Culture
    (pp. 13-31)

    One of the West’s canonical images of ‘feminine beauty,’ Titian’sVenus of Urbinoalso gives us a window-like glimpse into the Renaissance demarcation of domestic space (figure 1). Starkly available to the male gaze, ‘la bella’ points out her genitals with her left hand while holding a bouquet of flowers with her right, metaphorically signifying what the other hand does metonymically. The prize possession of somepater familias, her only accoutrements (and art historians never seem to tire of harping on the fact that theVenus of Urbinois not nude like theSleeping Venusof Giorgione that Titian imitated)...

  7. 2 Portrait of the Poet as a Dog: Petrarch’s Epistola metrica III, 5
    (pp. 32-43)

    Francesco Petrarca’sEpistolae metricaecount among the least recognized and studied portions of his vast and supremely influential opus. When mentioned at all, they are relegated to the realm of the purely circumstantial – impressive examples of the great poet’s virtuosic mastery of Latin rhetoric in both its verse and prose forms, but ultimately of primarily biographical and documentary interest. Letter III, 5 addressed, as are so many of the metrical epistles, to Cardinal Giovanni Colonna, is typically descriptive of the ‘simple’ life the poet leads far away from the bustle of Avignon’s papal court in the tranquillity of his deeply...

  8. 3 Alberti’s Cavallo vivo, or The ‘Art’ of Domination
    (pp. 44-53)

    During the Italian Renaissance, princes, courtiers, artists, humanists, and scientists throughout Europe came to visit Italy in pursuit of the higher learning that Italy offered from its many splendid courts. Aside from the influence exacted by the Peninsula on almost all major currents of artistic and intellectual activity, one area that may need to be rethought by contemporary cultural critics is Italy’s influence on the learning of the equestrian arts, and in particular the educative model implied in those arts.

    While books as well as scholarly articles do exist on both horsemanship and the training of horses dating from the...

  9. 4 Della Porta and the Face of Domestication: Physiognomy, Gender Politics, and Humanism’s Others
    (pp. 54-72)

    In Ariosto’s fifthSatire, the character bearing the poet’s name advises his interlocutor on the proper way to manage a wife. Arguing for a motivational, or rather manipulative, approach, since ‘enticements work better than the chain,’ ‘Ariosto’ repeats a common Renaissance topos that a wife should be domesticated in a way similar to the treatment of certain animals, especially dogs.¹ Obviously humanism’s praise for the ‘dignity of man,’ as in Pico della Mirandola’s famous work of that name, did not exclude a more demeaning view of women.² As Joan Kelly first argued in her celebrated essay ‘Did Women Have a...

  10. 5 Psychoanalytic Intermezzo: Freud’s Missed Reading of Leonardo’s Alternative Humanism
    (pp. 73-92)

    Perhaps no text better symbolizes the vexed relation between psychoanalysis and Renaissance studies than Freud’s ‘Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of His Childhood.’¹ In fact, this text is often cited, even by psychoanalysts, as a prime example of a ‘vulgar,’ anachronistic, and misinformed psychoanalysis that reduces artistic and scientific genius to the effect of deviant sexual neuroses.² Freud’s analysis of Leonardo would appear to be an embarrassment to the partisans of psychoanalysis and a sufficient cause for the rejection of psychoanalytic readings by detractors of the method as well as by some critics who most often see their intellectual...

  11. 6 Versions of Diana: Gender and Renaissance Mythography
    (pp. 93-126)

    I began this study with a reading of Titian’sVenus of Urbinoto unpack its implications about Renaissance domestic space. The visual matrix ofla bellaand her domesticbestiaserved us well in elaborating a set of issues and themes concerning animal passions and the unpredictability of desire and object choice in various writers, artists, and thinkers from the early modern period down to the present.

    There is, however, another powerful Renaissance icon that posits a communion of women and beasts, this time not within or even at the limit of domestic enclosure, but distinctlyoutsideit. The icon...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 127-140)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 141-148)
  14. Index
    (pp. 149-157)