ADS-L Digest - 21 Mar 2007 to 22 Mar 2007 (#2007-82)

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Fri Mar 23 14:00:01 UTC 2007

>I can only give contexts (snippets) I pick up
>from Google, which suggest transferred and/or
>figurative senses from a literal royal (e.g.
>king) looking at someone or something.  An 18th
>century scholar mentions Johnson's first sense of
>the noun "gaze", as "intent regard", but some of
>these snippets seem to go beyond that.
>"without turning one's back on the royal gaze,
>that is, walking backwards. ..."  [fairly literal]
>"A formal pageant was to be enacted under the ëroyalí gaze"

Gee, there might be a legal sense here.

>   "He brought him to Jesus, and Jesus looking
>earnestly on him with that royal gaze which read
>intuitively the inmost thoughts‚seeing at a glance in that ..."

I'd read this as literal/s.e.

>The casting of the royal gaze in these terms
>communicates once again a double ... It is his
>gaze, a royal gaze‚and in a nation under Salic lawa male gaze, ...
>[From "The Poetics of Gender", by Nancy K.
>Miller.  Perhaps the "Lacanian/feminist literary criticism"?]

Yes, I think so.

>Likewise, both male and female members of the Ottoman court could exercise
>control over different types of spaces by
>manipulating both the built environment
>through architectural projects and by exercising
>the privileges of the royal gaze,
>a privilege that was recognized and implemented in the design and layout of
>Ottoman structures, ...
>[I cannot cut and paste next three lines]
>and the complex dynamics of the royal gaze has
>been discovered more recently as
>an important factor in how Islamic patrons of
>architecture exercised control over
>and perhaps engendered space.

I think it's the critical theory use of gaze
going on here. Though I'm tempted to say it's
playing with a legal sense of "royal gaze" as

>And from the art world [but I have no idea
>whether the references are to portraits or royals!]
>Chorda goes on, unfortunately, to make much of
>this "royal gaze" in his interpretation of the picture
>[From Comment on "Anamorphosis and the Eccentric
>Observer: Inverted Perspective and the Construction of the Gaze"
>Vladimir Tamari
>Leonardo, Vol. 26, No. 1 (1993), p. 90]
>The observed and the observer are thus unified,
>allowing the painter to communicate the quality
>of the 'royal gaze' to all those who contemplate this work.
>[From Computer Graphics for the Analysis of
>Perspective in Visual Art: "Las Meninas", by Velazquez
>Frederic Chorda
>Leonardo, Vol. 24, No. 5 (1991), pp. 563-567]

I think it's again a critical theory use here in the art ones as well.

I hope that helps somewhat. I don't think I can
articulate what is meant by "gaze" in critical
theory at this point since it's been so many
years since my class in it, and I've since
unloaded those books. You might check an overview
of critical theory, like the one by Terry
Eagleton, or a handbook of some sort.

---Amy West

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list