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Wednesday, April 26 • 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Wilhelm Von Gloeden’s Idealized Boys: A Renaissance Of Pederasty?

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Pederasty was a Greek social practice that was designed to prepare boys between the ages of twelve and seventeen to be ideal men of democracy (c. 600 BCE - 400 BCE). The practice was not a sexual fetish or perversion, but rather a civic duty performed by aristocratic Grecian men to train the upcoming generation of boys. There is an abundance of research on the social connotations and iconography of Greek pederasty. However, little to no research has compared the iconography of pederasty vases and the photography of Wilhelm von Gloeden (1856 - 1931). Von Gloeden’s late 19th century photographs portray idealized nude boys in relation to, but outside of, the social context of pederasty. Traditionally, pederasty scenes were painted as an informational tool for ritual aspects of the practice. While the nude boy is idealized in these scenes, he is not sexualized. Conversely, in the late 19th century photographs, all the boys are sexualized with the use of props, scenery, and physical composure that evoke an ancient Greek aesthetic. Furthermore, unlike traditional pederasty scenes, Von Gloeden’s work is purposefully devoid of an adult male presence, effectively making the viewer a voyeur who sexually objectifies the boys. It is with this shift from public practice to private fetish that Von Gloeden’s photographs are brought under the realm of the pedophilic gaze.


Wednesday April 26, 2017 1:40pm - 2:00pm
237 Owen Hall