Women’s Studies Lecture; Men and Guns, Then and Now

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    Amy Freund, assistant professor of art history, delivered a public lecture titled “Men and Guns: The Art of the Hunt in Eighteenth-Century France” on Feb. 5. She discussed her current work, which focuses on the experience and visual symbols of masculinity.

    Freund is the first recipient of the Women’s Studies Faculty Research and Creative Activity award for 2013-14.

    “Hunting art offers powerful insight into masculinity and politics in the eighteenth-century,” she said.

    The lecture’s points were illustrated with a variety of artworks depicting muscular, hyper-masculine figures wielding phallic weapons. 

    “Persons in eighteenth-century paintings with guns are always male – highlighting the divide guns created between the sexes,” Freund said.

    She also discussed how guns in general are a metaphor for male sexual conquest.

    A man is a extension of his gun and its power, while the gun is an extension of the man himself, Freund said.

    In considering modern examples, it is clear that men still feel a unique connection to their guns, she said, citing the stars of the popular show “Duck Dynasty.”

    The reality television series follows the gun-wielding, full-bearded Robertson family men, who drive large trucks and are shown doing strictly “men’s work.” They are also very well known for hunting.

    Hunting represents a man’s autonomy and ability to conquer objects both animate and inanimate, Freund said.