Desire/Knowledge

18 May 2017

Session 4 – 3:30pm

“La main de Thérèse: désir et savoir dans Thérèse philosophe (1748)” 

This paper presents a reading of the famous pornographic novel, Thérèse philosophe(1748) through the motif of the hand. The young Thérèse discovers pleasure with her hand. It is also with her hand that she becomes a philosopher by approaching the delicate subjects of morality and religion through the filter of desire and its satisfaction. Thérèse’s hand therefore plays a simultaneously erotic and pedagogical role. The hand is therefore an indispensable mediator between the needs of the body and the interrogations of the mind.

Ronan Chalmin, Senior Lecturer in French, Connecticut College. He is the author of Lumières et corruption (2010) and articles on authors and topics ranging from Molière to the French and Haitian Revolutions. He is co-editing, with A. Vila, a critical edition of Tissot’s De la santé des gens de lettres (1768, forthcoming Editions Garnier), and writing a monograph on Gracchus Babeuf, entitled Lire Babeuf. La création littéraire d’un écrivain révolutionnaire.