This essay reflects on the way my research on eighteenth-century erotica in general, and Fanny Hill in particular, affected my career as an academic in Europe from the 1970s to the 1990s. Still far from being generally accepted subjects of serious academic work, erotica and pornography proved to be stumbling stones on the way to a professorship. In addition to facing disapproval, contempt, or downright condemnation by a majority of colleagues in English departments in Germany (a marked difference compared to attitudes in France or England), I was deliberately obstructed from obtaining a postdoctoral degree and rejected by search committees at so-called “elite universities.” The price I had to pay for my academic work on erotica, which proved pioneering in the long run, was considerable and also entailed financial disadvantages. If research on pornography and erotica is no problem today, it is also because a number of people, including myself, made the field accessible—at some personal cost.
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Peter Wagner; My Life with Fanny Hill. Eighteenth-Century Life 1 April 2019; 43 (2): 15–19. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00982601-7492854
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