‘With their parallel lives,’ writes John Berger, animals ‘offer man a companionship which is different from any offered by human exchange. Different because it is a companionship offered to the loneliness of man as a species.’ This lecture argues that the gaze of the dog, grounded in evolution and appropriated by visual artists in the western tradition, offers a way of representing being seen – being regarded as worth regard – as a defence against loneliness both as a species and as social beings. Dogs are cultural doppelgängers of the human, creatures whose ways of seeing and very presence stand in a metonymic relationship to how we – artists and those who look at art – see in the world and want to be seen.
Professor Thomas Laqueur, based at Berkeley, University of California, is the author of Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud (1990), Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation (2003), and The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains (2015), among many others.
This lecture will take place online. All are welcome but registration is required. Please click here to register your attendance.