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Religion, Ethics, and History in the French Long Seventeenth Century - La Religion, la morale, et l’histoire à l’âge classique


Edited By William Brooks and Rainer Zaiser

In June 2006 delegates from eight countries representing six French, US, and British-based learned societies met at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, for a conference on the French long seventeenth century entitled ‘Modernités/Modernities’. Twenty of the best papers on religion, ethics and history were selected for this volume, and they present new perspectives on topics as diverse as devotion and pornography, artifice and the pursuit of truth, Bruscambille and Pascal, historiography from the sixteenth century to Voltaire, and, of course, the Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes.
En juin 2006 un colloque sur le thème de la modernité pendant l’âge classique a réuni à St Catherine’s College, Oxford des spécialistes venus de huit pays pour représenter six sociétés savantes dont quatre françaises, une américaine, et une britannique. Vingt communications choisies parmi les meilleures sont recueillies dans le présent volume, sur des sujets aussi divers que la dévotion et la pornographie, l’artifice et la recherche de la vérité, Bruscambille et Pascal, l’historiographie tant du seizième siècle que de Voltaire et, bien entendu, la Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes.


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Aretino’s Legacy: L’Ecole des filles and the Pornographic Continuum in Early Modern France 161


RUSSELL GANIM Aretino’s Legacy: L’Ecole des filles and the Pornographic Continuum in Early Modern France The problematic reaction that pornography evokes as both a literary and cultural construct stems partially from the fact that it is as anti- modern as it is modern. This paradox is implicitly outlined in Lynn Hunt’s definition of pornography.1 The ironically traditional, if not presumably timeless, quality of pornography she describes as ‘the explicit depiction of sexual organs and sexual practices with the aim of arousing sexual feelings’; at the same time, however, the ‘moder- nity’ of pornography, especially in the early modern period, stems from the fact that such works, ‘us[ed] the shock of sex to criticize reli- gious and political authorities’ (p. 10). Consequently, the transgressive nature of pornography is rooted in the desire to mock, to upend, and in some cases to reshape the mores of the dominant culture. In Foucaldian fashion, the effort made through pornography to challenge existing authority and to suggest new paradigms of thought, identity, and behaviour is what makes it ‘modern’ in the current sense of the term.2 Within the last fifteen years, Hunt, Joan DeJean, and others have examined the relationship between pornography and modernity, with the work L’Ecole des filles (1655) figuring prominently in the discus- sion.3 This paper analyses L’Ecole in terms of what precedes and 1 Consult the Introduction (pp. 9–45) to The Invention of Pornography: Obscen- ity and the Origins of Modernity, 1500–1800, ed. by Lynn Hunt (New York:...

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