The “Obscenity & Censorship” Conference:

A word, or a phrase or a work of art deemed obscene for not following the moral structures and sensibilities of a particular period is a tale as old as time. Yet, we as humans often take these judgments at face value, attributing it to the dominant culture at hand and uttering “it’s just the way things are”. If we turn a more critical eye to these works that were not only accused of being obscene, but also underwent a trial to validate that judgment, it bears asking: who or what has the authority to deem a work of art as such. Who or what determines that an exposed breast in a painting by Rosso Fiorentino is less obscene than a paragraph of libertine literature penned by the Marquis de Sade or than a cinematographic shot of male genitalia in the Decameron?

We invite you to address and dialogue with the inherent morality or obscenity within our numerous and varied fields of study. This ambiguous, if not ambivalent, judgment placed on works of art can also quite easily be extended to pop culture and everyday life. We hope that GAFIS 2021 will be a place of compelling and productive interdisciplinary discussion on the topic of obscenity.

KEYNOTE: Professor Chris Forster

It is our pleasure to announce that Professor Chris Forster of Syracuse University (Department of English) will be joining us as this year’s keynote speaker. Professor Forster’s research focuses on modernism, Twentieth Century British Literature & Culture, Digital Humanities, Media History and Critical theory & Psychoanalysis. The title of Professor Forster’s talk is: “The End of Obscenity? Media and Aesthetics in the History (and Present) of Obscenity”


Prof. Chris Forster (Syracuse University)
Prof. Stefania Buccini (University of Wisconsin, Madison–Italian)
Prof. Jill Casid (University of Wisconsin, Madison–Art History & Gender and Women’s Studies)


Please confirm your attendance and participation by registering at your earliest convenience.


• Many thanks to the Brittingham Trust, the Center for German and European Studies, the Department of French and Italian, the Graduate Association of French and Italian Students, the French House, the Center for Interdisciplinary French Studies, the Center for the Humanities, the Department of African Cultural Studies, the Department of Communication Arts, the Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies, the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, and the Department of Theatre and Drama for their generous support.•

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