Posing Sex: Toward a Perceptual Ethics for Literary and Visual Art views the long and provocative tradition of representing the sexual act in Western art as an occasion for challenging assumptions about personhood.
It is uncontroversial that what Singer dubs the sex image, the artist's posing of human figures in the act of coitus, is an enduring compositional armature for artists from antiquity to the present. Singer, however, makes the quite controversial claim that this aesthetic practice, in literature and painting especially, serves as a powerful metier for exploring how the mind is continuous with the sensuously lively body rather than its rationalistic antagonist. Singer draws upon a rich philosophical tradition-from the Greek Stoics, Descartes, Spinoza, and Hegel to contemporary theorists of perception and aesthetic agency-to show how the stakes of aesthetic experience epitomized in the sex image are essentially ethical. Referencing a broad range of image-based artworks-literary, painterly, and cinematic-Singer illustrates the proposition that posing sex broadens the scope of our knowledge about how feeling reciprocates with reason-giving.
Alan Singer (Temple University USA)
Bloomsbury Academic USA
Country of Publication:
31 October 2019
Professional and scholarly
List of Illustrations Acknowledgments Introduction 1. Posing Sex: Prospects for a Perceptual Ethics 2. Learning from Imagination: Re-Imagining Moral Knowledge 3. The Senses of Personhood: Beyond Allegories of the Body 4. The Impositions of Perception 5. Knowledge in the Flesh Bibliography Index
Alan Singer is Professor of English at Temple University, USA. He is the author of four critical books, including The Self-Deceiving Muse: Notice and Knowledge in the Work of Art (2010) and Aesthetic Reason: Artworks and the Deliberative Ethos (2003). He is the author of many articles on aesthetics and co-editor of Literary Aesthetics: A Reader (2001).
Reviews for Posing Sex: Toward a Perceptual Ethics for Literary and Visual Art
This risk-taking, fearless book is a continually rewarding act of looking and feeling and thinking, insisting on their intimacy but also enacting it on the page, where Singer's intellectual reach and analytical rigor produce an abundance of arresting perceptions of sensuous aesthetic experience. * Ross Posnock, Anna Garbedian Professor of the Humanities, Columbia University, USA * Drawing elegantly on Hegel and Spinoza, as well as contemporaries like John McDowell, Alan Singer regards aesthetic depictions of sex not merely as lewd images, or objects for the male gaze, but as a matrix through which personhood is made intelligible. Posing Sex invites us to see in such images how conceptual capacities are at work in the deliverances of our senses, and how knowledge of self and others can be achieved where we least expect it. * Paul A. Kottman, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, The New School for Social Research, USA, and author of Love as Human Freedom (2017) *