There has never been a time when art critics held more power than during the second half of the twentieth century.Following the Second World War, with the relocation of the world’s artistic epicenter from Paris to New York, a different kind of war was waged in the pages of magazines across the country.Satisfied with wonders that remain safely inside the canvas, the artist accepts the permanence of the commonplace and decorates it with his own daily annihilation. published Greenberg’s “‘American-Type’ Painting,” in which the critic defined the now-ubiquitous term “abstract expressionism.”RELATED: What Did Clement Greenberg Do?Tags: Modern Healthcare It Case StudyRyanair Case Study Financial AnalysisLeaflet Distribution Business PlanEssay About Friendship ExperienceUsage Of Technology In Education EssayApa Term PaperBusiness Plan For Gym PdfEssay Writing As A ProcessHamlet Book Vs Movie Essay
Since both Freud and Charcot were influenced by their own studies of possession, moreover, the apparently natural “fit” between their theories and these phenomena is less convincing than their advocates sometimes assume. Much of the most significant work on early modern medicine and the gendered body has been generated by the sustained and hostile reaction against the “one-sex model” propounded in Thomas Laqueur’s .
More recent studies have reached the same conclusion as de Certeau from a different and more strictly historicist angle. After Laqueur sensationally claimed that the premodern era lacked a binary concept of gender, a series of major studies devoted themselves to reassessing, and to some extent rebuilding, the anatomical and physiological premises of early modern sexual difference.
Jackson Pollock claimed to be the influence of “action painting,” despite Rosenberg’s rumored lack of respect for the artist because Pollock wasn’t particularly well-read.
Influenced by Marxist theory and French existentialism, Rosenberg conceives of a painting as an “arena,” in which the artist acts upon, wrestles, or otherwise engages with the canvas, in what ultimately amounts to an expressive record of a struggle.
These narratives may seem at first sight to confirm the existing scholarly picture: a possessed man feminized by a cross-gendered illness and a woman subjected to a “sexual script.” But early moderns, I suggest, would have read them differently.
For them, the possessions of Richard Mainy and Sara Williams would have presented a reminder of the similarities rather than the differences between the sexes, and the different but related kinds of plenitude—sexual, humoral, demonic—that affected both.It was this wider category of illnesses, affecting both men and women, that was associated with demonic possession in this period.Both possession and the diseases that resembled it, moreover, were linked to early modern theories of sexual physiology that stressed the similarities rather than the differences between male and female sexuality.Scholars such as John Demos, Lyndal Roper, Robin Briggs, and Steven Connor were no crude Freudians and often preferred Melanie Klein’s emphasis on motherhood to de Certeau’s Lacanian prioritization of language. and the relation of these two to sexual difference.” Both assume that a history of the body must be a history of what Roper calls “the physiological and psychological reality” of gender.But they were all working within a tradition, derived ultimately from Freud’s predecessor Jean-Martin Charcot, that viewed possession through the lens of hysteria; and despite regular attempts to extend it to male patients, hysteria remains fundamentally associated with femininity. Similarly, it seems no great leap from the “porosity” and “openness” that Caciola finds in medieval female anatomy to Steven Connor’s Lacanian association of possession with “invaginated hollowness” and cultural perceptions of “the castration or deficiency of the female body.” A similar trend has been apparent in medical historiography.BOYD BROGAN is a Centre for Future Health Research Fellow in the Department of History, University of York.He works on sexual abstinence and illness in premodern medicine and on epilepsy, hysteria, and demonic possession from the early modern period to the twentieth century.As part of the larger “culture wars” of the mid-century, art critics began to take on greater influence than they’d ever held before.For a time, two critics in particular—who began as friends, and remained in the same social circles for much of their lives—set the stakes of the debates surrounding the maturation of American art that would continue for decades.These late essays of Roland Barthes's are concerned with the visible and the audible, and here the preoccupations are particularly intense and rewarding, in part because Barthes was himself, by predilection, an artist and a musician, and in part because he was of two minds about the very possibility of attaching to art and to music a written text, a criticism.“Not by chance is the possessed body essentially female,” wrote Michel de Certeau in 1975. Up to the close of the last century, studies of early modern demonic possession were dominated by psychoanalytic perspectives, and it seems fair to say that such perspectives are more than usually likely to produce an association between possession and the female body.