Thesis Defense Announcement
The College of Communication and Fine Arts announces the Final Thesis Defense of
for the Degree of Master of Arts
March 27, 2018 at 9:30 AM in Room 315, ACB
Advisor: Lorelei Corcoran
Behind Every Man is a Strong Woman: Representations of Sexuality in Old Kingdom Non-royal Statuary
ABSTRACT: Statues of males and females, usually of husbands and wives, first appear during Egypt's Old Kingdom from the Fourth to Sixth Dynasty (2649 - 2150 BCE). Known as "pair statues" or "dyads," the two individuals are seated or standing beside one another. In most instances, the female touches or holds her male counterpart, which may or may not be reciprocated by the male figure. Research has shed much light on royal dyads, like those of the pharaoh Menkaure (4th Dynasty). However, non-royal dyads have not yet received adequate attention, except in cases where scholars discuss size variations of the individuals in relation to representations of their gender. Scholars such as Ann Roth, Gay Robins, and Lynn Meskell have argued that the size variation between males and females represented in two-dimensional and three-dimensional art is due to a hierarchical system of gender representation in which the male is shown larger due to his higher importance in comparison to a woman. However, through a comparison of a collection of non-royal dyads, my research suggests that gender and hierarchical scale were not directly linked as previous scholars have argued. The collection of dyads will be evaluated utilizing art historical methods of comparative analysis in conjunction with 'daily-life' scenes so that an understanding of their function can be concluded. By comparing scenes and dyads found in a funerary context, interpretations regarding the rebirth of the male individual can be reached. Research will rely on funerary texts and the individual's mode of representing himself in order to make conclusions regarding the female's participation in her male counterpart's regeneration. This study will argue that the representation of the touching gesture made by females towards males functioned as a form of sexual excitation utilized by the man during his rebirth. This research will also argue that this depiction of the female's hand is an early form of the feminine epithet "God's Hand" that has been attested as early as the Middle Kingdom. Finally, this study will focus on the relationship of gods and goddesses and how non-royal individuals filled divine roles in a funerary context.