Banned Books: The Rise of Censorship in Modernity (Proseminar in European History)

History 103B.001

Fall 2016
Instructor (text): 
Elizabeth Wenger
3104 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
W 10-12P

The printing press was a technology that, in over five hundred years, can only really be compared to the rise of the internet. It allowed the spread of information at rates that were previously unimaginable and built communities that would otherwise have been impossible. It enabled the Reformation and changed the face of the political world. With all of this new freedom, though, came new demands for guidance, regulation, and control. In this class, we will look at the 500 years of printed material through the eyes of the censors rather than the writers or the printers. We will ask how they understood their job, and why they thought it was acceptable (or even helpful). More importantly, we will ask how these assumptions changed, and what they implied about the wider communities that created the censors. Approximately half of the course will be spent on the 20th century, when both totalitarian and democratic regimes adopted censoring methods that were even more sweeping and sophisticated. Students planning on writing a 101 may be asked to use the final paper assignment to begin exploring their potential thesis topic. Please feel free to contact the instructor by e-mail with any questions.

Course Books

Obscenity : Social Control and Artistic Creation in the European Middle Ages. by Ziolkowski, Jan M Boston: Brill. ISBN: 978-9004109285 Required
The Censor, the Editor, and the Text: The Catholic Church and the Shaping of the Jewish Canon in the Sixteenth Century. Jewish Culture and Contexts by Raz-Krakotzkin, Amnon Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN: 978-0812240115 Required
Censorship & Cultural Regulation in the Modern Age. by Müller, Beate, ed. Rodopi. ISBN: 978-9042009882 Required
How Life Writes the Book: Real Socialism and Socialist Realism in Stalin's Russia. by Lahusen, Thomas Cornell University Press. ISBN: 978-0801433948 Required