chapter  2
12 Pages

ENVISIONING DIFFERENCE: Femininity and representation

One of the central issues in recent psychoanalytic, cultural, and feminist theories has been the relationship of gender, sexuality, and representation. A great deal has been written about visual perception, the act of looking, and the ‘Gaze’. Following the writings of the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, sexual difference and the field of vision are now theorised from a psychoanalytic standpoint as being interdependent. That is to say the one is not only prior to the other, but also effected by it. To study the representation of femininity in antiquity is thus a rather different project from cataloguing images of women, or searching historical archives for attestations of women’s contributions to fine arts or culture. Just as the historical study of women is now complicated by issues that reveal the limits of First Wave feminist accounts, the project of analysing art from a feminist perspective has developed from looking at images of women as evidence of their lives into important critiques of representation and its relation to gender.