November 8, 2017 – Amelia Rauser

Professor of Art History
Franklin & Marshall College
Psyche Disobeys: Sensate Sculpture and Fashionable Dress in the 1790s”

In the 1790s, fashionable women appeared in ballrooms, gardens, and opera boxes dressed as living statues. Amelia Rauser explores the ways women appropriated the imagery of Psyche, symbol of resurrection as well as the spirit of life, to represent themselves as enlivening marbles. Once hidden, blinded, abandoned, and enslaved, Psyche gained her freedom and became immortal by empowering her own desiring gaze. Her iconography, then, construed women in white muslin dresses as both desirable objects and desiring subjects, giving them a visual language for their own embodied animation.