Sexuality and Form: Caravaggio, Marlowe, and Bacon
University of Chicago Press, 2000 - 219 pages
In a far-ranging series of readings that considers Italian humanism, art history, Elizabethan drama, early experimental science, and contemporary theory, Graham Hammill offers a new poetics of sexuality. Arguing against the reduction of sex to historical information, Hammill compels us to reconceive sexuality and its relationship to history through the aesthetic: he proposes that in Western encounters with homosexuality, the flesh emerges as both a problem and a promise at the limits of the visual and dramatic narrative arts.
Sexuality and Form explores the insistence of the flesh as an element of carnality that resists exchange and conversion. Beginning with humanist aesthetics and the art of war, Hammill first discusses how the body gets aligned with various and subtle forms of violence. He then explores the epistemological and aesthetic spaces in the paintings of Caravaggio and Michaelangelo, the plays of Christopher Marlowe, and the scientific treatises of Francis Bacon, demonstrating how in each the flesh is bruised into visibility through poses that underwrite and belie ideals of secular civility.
Sexuality and Form is an ambitious new study of sexuality, aesthetics, and epistemology--one of the first works of its kind to bring queer theory and psychoanalysis together within a Renaissance framework.