Artist/theorist Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) explored body/mind and subject/object dichotomies at the margins of human experience. In a collection of erotic drawings, he depicts objects as emblems of oppression, violence, sexuality and power. My research will consider the ways in which these objects serve as emblems for specific subject/object relations, to better understand how Fuseli’s erotic drawings might be representative of a greater interest in the power of things in late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Britain.
The impetus of my research project is a questioning of pessimistic cultural criticisms as necessarily radical or ultimately solvent of the problems they uncover. Foundational to critical endeavors at they may be, it is difficult not to find limitations in theories of culture whose end seems to stagnate at the revealing of the extent of ideology's oppressive hold, and not the formulation and rendering possible of a potential beyond to this hold, or of reparative solutions.