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Looking at Lovemaking: Constructions of Sexuality in Roman Art, 100 B.C.-A.D.250 Hardcover – 18 Mar 1998

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 406 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1st Edition edition (18 Mar. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520200241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520200241
  • Product Dimensions: 26.1 x 18.6 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,907,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"Clarke's exegisis of wall paintings from the so-called Suburban Baths, a Roman unisex locker room, is worth the price of the book alone."--"Lingua Franca

From the Inside Flap

"Clarke teaches us to think about how this art was understood and felt by those who lived with it in their daily lives and he speculates that it might even reflect what the Romans actually did. This is the first genuinely contextual and theoretically informed study we have of a vast panoply of classical art about sex. It will be an illuminating book for classicists, historians, and anybody else who finds lovemaking interesting."Thomas Laqueur, author of "Making Sex"
"There are few scholars as able to take on this material, as well versed in theories of sexuality, and as comfortable dealing with both heterosexual and homoerotic content as Clarke. The topic is timely and the execution is professional."Natalie Kampen, Barnard College
"This book should attract not only classicists, but also scholars of sexuality in any field. Clarke succeeds both in introducing little-known material and in defamiliarizing the familiar examples of erotic art."Anthony Corbeill, University of Kansas
""Looking at Lovemaking" proves that the ancients were very different from you and methat they saw sex not primarily as procreation and never as sin but rather as sport, art, and pleasure, an activity full of humor, tenderness and above all variety. John R. Clarke, by looking at Roman artifacts from several centuries destined to be used by different social classes, reveals that the erotic "visual" record is far more varied, open-minded and playful than are "written" moral strictures, which were narrowly formulated by the elite and for the elite. This book is at once discreet and bolddiscreetly respectful of nuance and context, boldly clear in drawing the widest possible conclusions about the malleability of human behavior. Clarke has, with meticulous scholarship and a fresh approach, vindicated Foucault's revolutionary claims for the social construction of sexuality."Edmund White, author of "The Beautiful Room is Empty"" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Clarke is an academic art critic known for his work on sexuality in Greek and Roman art. In this book he argues that the Romans were not just like us (despite what 'popular' historians, novelists and the BBC would have one think) and explores this difference through an analysis of Roman sexual culture and the visual images it produced.

By contextualising the erotic images he discusses, he explores the way sexual representations on cups, walls painting, mirrors, vases etc. are embedded within Roman social practices and are public indicators of culture, social status and luxury, rather than private objects as they might be for us.

For anyone who works on Latin literary texts, this is an ideal way for thinking about the interaction between the visual and material culture surrounding the poets who wrote erotic poetry, and makes some of the texts less cultural shocking, indeed, almost tame in comparison with some of the pictures that surrounded Romans in their daily lives.

Acutely pointing out that while sexual and erotic acts might stay the same, their meaning can be nuanced in different cultural contexts, Clarke adds nicely to the literature on sexuality and the erotic in Roman culture.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x96189004) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9659400c) out of 5 stars Clearly Argued, Captivating Book on an Unusual Topic 27 Jan. 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Clarke's book provides very clear analysis of the purpose and nature of ancient Roman erotica. He uses a wide range of sources--literature, instructive manuals, precedent in Greek and Roman art, setting, etc.--to back up his arguments, which he presents in a lucid style that is as pleasurable to read as it is easy to follow. I particularly recommend the chapter on erotic art in public locations in Pompeii.
19 of 28 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x967720cc) out of 5 stars Lavishly illustrated, unconvincingly argued 26 Sept. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Clarke claims he is going to reach down from the Roman elite (which produced the literature) to the masses and to reveal a totally alien (to a presumably homogeneous "us") sexuality. The illustrations are plentiful and may be interpreted in many ways--so many and with so little evidence that any Romans saw any of the ways Clarke does that the reader is left to choose with no real guidance from the author. (And rather a lot of the images come from luxury objects so we remain in the world of representations for the upper stratum of Augustan Rome.)
HASH(0x965ffa08) out of 5 stars Four Stars 12 Aug. 2014
By Norman D. Van Manen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a well written scholarly book. It helped me to understand that era and lovemaking in it.
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96762120) out of 5 stars Boobs and phalluses et al. 21 Mar. 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Only one problem (I think): Clarke doesn't really follow up very well on his early-proposed problem, i.e. just how it is that textual representations of sex don't allow us the same latitude of insight into Roman practices as visual works might otherwise. Still, it might be argued that these thousand-word-speaking pictures do the talking for him, and if that's the case, then I'm fine with that. Get this, though. It's a very worthy study.
HASH(0x9e870c18) out of 5 stars Four Stars 12 Oct. 2014
By Larry L Burks - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A good read information a little dry
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