Vase Painting, Gender, and Social Identity in Archaic Athens

Vase Painting, Gender, and Social Identity in Archaic Athens


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Spectators at the sides of narrative vase paintings have long been at the margins of scholarship, but a study of their appearance shows that they provide a model for the ancient viewing experience. They also reflect social and gender roles in archaic Athens. This study explores the phenomenon of spectators through a database built from a census of the Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum, which reveals that the figures flourished in Athenian vase painting during the last two-thirds of the sixth century BCE. Using models developed from psychoanalysis and the theory of the gaze, ritual studies, and gender studies, Stansbury-O'Donnell shows how these 'spectators' emerge as models for social and gender identification in the archaic city, encoding in their gestures and behavior archaic attitudes about gender and status.

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  • Hardback | 330 pages
  • 185.4 x 256.5 x 27.9mm | 997.91g
  • CambridgeUnited Kingdom
  • English
  • 95 b/w illus. 58 tables
  • 0521853184
  • 9780521853187

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Review quote

'This book will stimulate graduate students and scholars interested in the viewing and reading not just of Athenian pottery but of the ancient visual arts in general. While the author notes that his work is only the beginning, he addresses figures that often have been neglected, thus demonstrating the possibility that they have something to tell us about the ancient world. In short, Stansbury-O'Donnell has given us new and vital directions to explore in the study of decorated pottery.' American Journal of Archaeology 'This study makes important progress in the discussion of the meaning of spectators in images on Athenian vases ... Most important, the results here invite subsequent work and provide a clear basis for it.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review 'Stansbury-O'Donnell's investigation is both thorough and carefully presented ... His careful methodology is exemplary, and his study shows a way forward for our understanding of the unsung figures in Attic art.' The Journal of Hellenic Studies

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About Mark D. Stansbury-O'Donnell

Mark D. Stansbury-O'Donnell is Professor of Art History at the University of St Thomas in St Paul, Minnesota. A scholar of Greek art, he is the author of Pictorial Narrative in Ancient Greek Art and has published articles on the painter Plygnotos and issues of narrative and methodology in the American Journal of Archaeology and several edited volumes.

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