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~Venus on the Sofa: Historian Looks at Femininity in Early America~

For immediate release:
November 5, 2003

Arlie Corday,

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- On Thursday, Nov. 13, at 4:15 pm in Pendleton West 212, historian Caroline Winterer will present a lecture, “Venus on the Sofa: Classicism and Femininity in Early America.”

Winterer will interpret the symbolism of women reclining on sofas and reveal what these images may say about femininity, education and women’s access to classical culture in early America. An associate professor of history at San Jose State College and a National Humanities Center and an ACLS Fellow, she will discuss female classicism in the making of American national identity from 1770-1870 through depictions of the goddess Venus in visual art and literature.

“ She will describe what she calls the ‘Venus conversation’ and contrast the ‘energetic transits’ of black female bodies, as slaves, with the ‘lassitude’ of the imagery of white females reclining on sofas in Venus-like positions,” said Barbara Beatty, education. “She has discovered a literature about sofas, and wonders about its meaning. ‘Was the sofa a site of rest and meditation, or of labor and anxiety?’ This lecture will illuminate the symbolism of the sofa as a cultural artifact and explore the female world of classical learning in early America and the intersections of classicism and femininity in literary and visual culture.”

Sponsors for the lecture include Classical Studies, CLCE, Education, English, History and Women’s Studies. For more information, call x3235.

Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal-arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 68 countries.





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