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Circular Definitions: Configuring Gender in Italian Renaissance Festival*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 November 2018

Deanna Shemek*
University of California, Santa Cruz


The enigma is chat my body simultaneously sees and is seen. That which looks at all things can also look at itself and recognize, in what it sees, the “other side” of its power of looking.

Maurice Merleau-Ponty

In a Memorable Passage on the philosophy of art, phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty observes that the human subject's power to act and to perceive as a separate being arises from a body at once discrete unto itself, yet continuous with the world around it. “This initial paradox cannot but produce others,” he continues. “Visible and mobile, my body is a thing among things; it is caught in the fabric of the world, and its cohesion is that of a thing. But because it moves itself and sees, it holds things in a circle around itself“.

Research Article
Copyright © Renaissance Society of America 1995

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