Public Lecture: Seeing Through Fur

Thomas W. Laqueur, Seeing Through Fur: The Dog's Gaze in Western Art

Lecture: 6.00-7.00pm

Reception: 7.00-8.00pm

Venue: Lecture Theatre 1, Bush House, King's College London

More porous than skin is the eye. Even if it is not the lamp or the window of the soul, its gaze is revealing of what is inside the skin, of how one creature sees another and its surroundings. The gaze makes worlds. Less porous and less revealing than skin is fur, regarded in the early modern period more as a luxury than a screen on which meaning can be written. This talk is about the special case of the eyes and the fur of dogs as they figure in in the world making of important works in the western tradition from Giotto to Goya

Thomas W. Laqueur is the Helen Fawcett Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His work has been focused on the history of popular religion and literacy; on the history the body - alive and dead; and on the history of death and memory. He writes regularly for the London Review of Booksand the Threepenny Review, among other journals, and is a founding editor of Representations. Laqueur is a member of both the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences but is most proud of the Mellon Distinguished Humanist Award, the proceeds from which he used as seed money for programmes in religion, human rights, and science studies at Berkeley - all of which are now self-sustaining. His most recent book is The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains (Princeton, 2016) His current research is on the history of humanitarianism and on dogs in western art.

The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception at 7pm on the 8th floor (north side) of Bush House.

Image: Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, Dogs on a Leash, 1775, oil on canvas. © Museo Nacional del Prado