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Title: Fascinum : the apotropaic phallus of Campania in the ancient & modern imagination
Author: Weil, Kathryn Emily van de
ISNI:       0000 0004 9358 0867
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis comprises a re-evaluation of the apotropaic Campanian Phallus: a highly familiar and desultorily implemented feature of our discipline’s conceptual toolkit, as well as an enduringly conspicuous element of popular engagement with the ancient world. The nature of the Campanian phallus’ apotropaism varies hugely from scholar to scholar and is yet to be directly interrogated or socio-historically contextualised. Furthermore, its role as an apotropaic device is regularly conflated with the Enlightenment notion of universal fertility worship, most notably articulated by the antiquarian Richard Payne Knight. This thesis’ re-examination of the ideological genealogy of phallic apotropaism in relation to late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century archaeological, anthropological and comparative-religious discourse highlights its particular import for the socio-cultural inquiries and concerns of that era. It will be demonstrated that the notion of the phallus as an apotropaic device has more in common with the nineteenth-century reinvention of Payne Knight’s ideas, and with the Enlightenment phallus’ coalescence with late nineteenth-century socio-cultural preoccupations, such as folklorism, mysticism and uncanny states of objecthood and representation. Accordingly, this thesis will expand our understanding of the place occupied by the Campanian apotropaic phallus in the modern imagination and the ways in which it relates to certain stages of our discipline’s history. Having evaluated modernity’s ideological and intellectual relationship with this fabled semiotic conundrum, the latter part of the thesis will revisit the apotropaic phallus at the ancient sites themselves. In this section, it will be shown that the phallus is rarely wholly solemn, apotropaic and symbolic nor wholly sexual, humorous and literal: indeed, its depiction in different contexts throughout the towns regularly capitalised on its capacity for double entendre, reflexive humour, social satire and semiotic ‘code-switching’. In this way, the apotropaic phallus proved a mercurial and perplexing image even for its ancient users and creators.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Wolfson Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: D History (General) ; N Visual arts (General) ; ND Painting