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‘Eternal Master’: masochism and the sublime at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C.

Janes, Dominic (2009) ‘Eternal Master’: masochism and the sublime at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C. Theology & Sexuality 15 (2), pp. 159-174. ISSN 1355-8358.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1558/tse.v15i2.159

Abstract

This article is an interpretation of the apse mosaic designed by Henryk de Rosen for the main apse of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. De Rosen’s life is outlined and it is suggested that he may have been homosexual. The nature of the image, with its focus on divine might is then used to suggest the artist’s interest in erotic power relations. The views of various theorists are examined and it is found that these indicate that there is dispute over whether ‘S/M’ is the same as ‘sadism’ and ‘masochism’ and over whether these can or cannot act as sites of liberation and personal empowerment. Ideas derived from Edmund Burke are then used to explore the ways in which aesthetic contemplation of the sublime can produce queer disruptions of patriarchal authority. It is argued that the prominence of erotic readings of the muscular male body in postwar America leave De Rosen’s image of Christ as being a potential signifier of eroticised power. This means that the image has the potential to ‘out’ the Roman Catholic institutional erotics of same-sex domination which has been explored in the work of Mark Jordan. However, this does not negate the potential of this image as a powerful focus for queer masochistic devotion.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Publihser does not allow full-text of author's last draft to be deposited
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): homosexuality, Roman Catholicism, sado-masochism, United States
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Arts > History of Art
Depositing User: Dr Dominic Janes
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2011 11:24
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2014 12:05
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/4238

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