Miles traces today's ideas of nakedness to the dawn of Christianity, showing how people learned to perceive the nude male figure as the embodiment of positive traits such as athletic ability and to contradictorily treat the nude female figure as the embodiment of wantonness. Illustrated. (May)
Looking at textual and artistic descriptions and religious practices from the beginning of organized Christianity until the 17th c., Miles (Harvard Divinity School) traces attitudes toward female nakedness as reflected in the art and literature of the times. She finds that nakedness for both men and women was originally associated with purity and spiritual rebirth, but that it gradually became gendered and, for women, a negative quality as Christianity's stake in maintaining a patriarchal society grew. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Margaret R. Miles was Bussey Professor of Historical Theology at the Harvard University Divinity School. She is the author of Augustine on the Body, Desire and Delight, Image as Insight, and Practicing Christianity.