“Obstreperous Athenians” and “Rampant Women:” Exploring Queer History and Performing Feminism through Aubrey Beardsley’s Lysistrata

Mentor: Joe Lucchesi

Abstract: This SMP explores Aubrey Beardsley’s 1896 illustrations to the Lysistrata, an ancient Greek
sexual comedy. The first part of the project situates Beardsley’s work in a larger conversation about
male homosexual identities, and finds that the artist’s images contain a carefully veiled but
specifically executed critique of contemporary homosexuality. The critique is all the more surprising
given the artist’s location at the center of a social and professional circle of queer individuals, who
bear the brunt of the artist’s critique. The second part of the project attempts to rehabilitate the
images for the twenty first century feminist viewer, by examining the artist’s visualizations of women
claiming political and sexual agency.