A theatre of cleanliness: the study of early modern book censorship and the Digital Humanities

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


In 2020, Renaud Adam published le Théâtre de la censure (2020) which partly deals with early modern censorship in the Low Countries. The metaphor of theatre of censorship refers to the destruction of books in mediatized and ritualized events metaphorically called autodafés. Adam's work deals also with the expurgation of books. Such censoring practice aims to cleanse the texts not to destroy the books. However, both practices are mainly ruled by the indexes of forbidden books. The expurgation, or microcensorship, can be figured out as a double level theatrical apparatus: upstream, an index of expurgation is the script where all instructions are delivered; downstream, the making of expurgation as imposed textual modifications, is the performance; its archive is the somewhat spectacular expurgated pages of countless copies from the world libraries, such as Martin Bielski's Kronika (1564) or Th. Zwinger's Theatrum humanae vitae (1565) at the Library of Lithuania (presented at the Durham Conference in March 2020). We can now methodologically and systematically analyse the events upstream and downstream. My paper will then present the method of microcensorship studies in the framework of the Digital Humanities.
Period2 Dec 2021
Event titleInternational Research Conference Theatrum Libri: Martynas Mažvydas Readings
Event typeConference
LocationVilnius, LithuaniaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Early modern Microcensorship
  • History of Book, History of Libraries, Catalogues, Encoding