Workshop: Venus in the Cloister - The Strange Journeys of an Erotic Classic

Convenors: Bill Bell, Helga Meise and Christine Haug, February 16-17, 2017

First published in Paris in 1683, Venus dans le cloitre, ou la religieuse en chemise was to have a considerable influence on the development of European erotica over the next three centuries. At once a work of anti-clerical satire, bawdy humour, pornography, and theological polemic, it was immediately translated into English in which it was issued in the same year. Many translations were to follow. It figured centrally in a landmark obscenity trial of 1728 in London, since which time it was not to appear in English again until 2010. Meanwhile it has hardly been out of print in French since its original appearance. By the 19th Century a number of German editions were in circulation, sometimes under different titles, purporting to be printed in London, Cologne, Rome, and other centres of European print production.
We propose to spend two days examining the travels and transformations of this remarkable text throughout Europe, with particular emphasis on its fate in French, German, and English cultural transfer. The unusual afterlives of the text, and its complex multivalences, will be explored in the context of its translation, circulation, and reception, as well as its sometime uneasy, but always interesting, negotiations with religious and legislative institutions.
The event will take place between February 16-17, 2017, at the Lichtenberg-Kolleg, the University of Goettingen's institute for advanced studies, housed in Gauss's historic observatory. Presentations will be in English, French, and German, for which we intend to provide simultaneous translation.


Thursday 16 February

13.30-14.15 Welcome and Introduction: (Bill Bell)
Venus in Europe: Some Provisional Observations (Helga Meise and Christine Haug)

14.15-15.30 Venus in its French Context (Catriona Seth)

15.30-16.15 Coffee

16.15-18.00 Venus in its English Context (Hal Gladfelder/Bill Bell)

19.00 Dinner

Friday 17 Feb

09.00-10.15 Venus in its German Context (Norbert Bachleitner)

10.15-10.45 Coffee

10.45-11.15 The Production, Distribution, and Reception of Venus in German (Helga Meise/Christine Haug)

11.15-12.30 Close reading Venus: This will take the form of break-out sessions to examine and discuss the French, English, and German versions, respectively

12.30-13.30 Lunch

13.30-14.45 Workshop findings and final informal discussion.