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“The Imagoes They Leave Behind”:1 Charles’s Death Masks and the Desire of the Past

“The Imagoes They Leave Behind”:1 Charles’s Death Masks and the Desire of the Past

Chapter:
(p.111) Six “The Imagoes They Leave Behind”:1 Charles’s Death Masks and the Desire of the Past
Source:
The Conquest of Ruins
Author(s):
Julia Hell
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226588223.003.0007

This chapter introduces the first case of neo-Roman empire-making. The authors analyzes how the artists and the historians who accompanied Charles V on his military campaign articulated the lethal tension at the heart of neo-Roman mimesis. The author discusses works of art depicting the ruins of Carthage and the emperor’s triumphal procession across a newly rebuilt Roman stage. Further deepening her analysis of imperial mimesis, the author makes two theoretical interventions. The first concerns neo-Roman mimesis as a response to the desire of the past. Based on the ancient notion of mimesis, the author analyzes Roman realism as a mode or representation that demands recognition and imitation. She elaborates on this nexus by drawing on Freud’s ideas about the anticipatory structure involved in acts of identification and the Romans’ ritual use of death masks. The author’s revision of Homi Bhabha’s model of colonial mimicry from a post-imperial perspective is her second theoretical intervention. The chapter concludes with a Freudian proposal of how to think the time-space of the neo-Roman imaginary.

Keywords:   Charles V, recognition and imitation, Freud, mimesis, death masks, identification as Besetzung, the past’s desire, Tunisian Campaign, resurrectional realism, Res Gestae Divi Augusti

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