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What Are Censorship’s Historical Consequences?


Event Summary

Censorship’s attempts to destroy a book, strengthen a regime, or silence a movement often fail in those direct objectives but have other profound effects on literature, culture, language, even identity. In this discussion, an interdisciplinary group of scholars set aside dystopian stereotypes to examine the real cultural effects of attempts at censorship, comparing the cases of post-colonial Sri Lanka, contemporary Lebanon, Jews in pre-modern Europe, the Inquisition, and the modern USA.

This discussion was part of a public dialogue series, supported by the Censorship, Information Control, and Information Revolutions from Printing Press to Internet research project at the Neubauer Collegium, which brought together scholars of print revolutions past and present with practitioners working on the frontiers of today’s information revolution. These events were not formal panels with presented papers, but free-form discussions in which experts bounced ideas off each other, discovering rich parallels between their work and sharing them in real time. Taking place from October through November, the eight dialogues united historians, editors, novelists, poets, and activists, and was be filmed and shared online to let the public enjoy and continue the discussions.


Anthony Grafton (Princeton University): Renaissance censorship of Jewish books

Gehnwa Hayek (University of Chicago): Comics censorship in contemporary Lebanon

James Larue (American Library Association): Office of Intellectual Freedom

Mary Anne Mohanraj (University of Illinois at Chicago): Literary consequences of colonialism in Sri Lanka