Thursday, June 21, 2012

Solidarity for Owen Holland

At Cambridge, Owen Holland faces a seven-term ban for reading out a poem and disrupting a lecture:

'Owen Holland has been sentenced to a suspension of seven terms by Cambridge University's court of discipline for reading a poem aloud. He was found guilty in March of "impeding freedom of speech" after a group of students disrupted a lecture by David Willetts, the minister for universities and science, in November last year.
The decision to pursue a peaceful protester is questionable; a sentence of seven terms – more than two years – is absurd. This is not simply a question of internal disciplinary procedures at a single university. This injustice sets a dangerous precedent. We should all be able to conduct reasonable protests against our government without the fear of unjust punishment at the hands of bodies keen to maintain good relations with that government. In this, Holland's case concerns all of us.'

Course matters

Though the course description arranges the history of censorship in a chronological sequence, we will be following a somewhat different trajectory in practice. Every week, half the classes will be devoted to reading the history of censorship as outlined in the schedule. The other half of the week will be devoted to debates about contemporary issues of censorship. These classes will be interactive, and students will be expected to engage in debate, either singly or in groups.

So the first month of the course could look like:

Reading topic: Censorship in Greece and Rome
  • Frederick H. Cramer, ‘Bookburning and Censorship in Ancient Rome’, Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 6, no.2 (April 1945), 157-196 []
  • Mary Whitlock Blundell, Apeiron: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science, Vol. 26, No. 3/4, Virtue love & Form: ESSAYS IN MEMORY OF GREGORY VLASTOS (September/December 1993), pp. 17-36 []
Discussion topic: The case of the Ambedkar cartoon
  • Ajay Skaria, 'Violence and Laughter' []
  • Round table on the Ambedkar cartoon: []
There are tons of other material circulating on the Net and social media--these are just two of the recent responses. 

Further course readings:

The Inquisition: 

Elizabethan and Jacobean England
  • Steven Mullaney, The Place of the Stage: License, Play and Power in Renaissance England (Chicago, London: The University of Chicago Press, 1988)
  • Janet Clare, Art Made Tongue-Tied by Authority (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999)
  • Jos J. Long, 'The Freedom of the Press', Virginia Law Review, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Jan., 1918), pp. 225-246; 
  • W.S. Holdsworth, 'Press Control and Copyright in the 16th and 17th Centuries',  The Yale Law Journal, Vol. 29, No. 8 (Jun., 1920), pp. 841-858;
England and France in the 17th and 18th Centuries
India during the Raj

  • Robert Darnton, 'Literary Surveillance in the British Raj: The Contradictions of Liberal Imperialism', Book History, Vol. 4 (2001),
  • Graham Shaw, 'On the Wrong End of the Raj: some aspects of censorship in British India and its Circumvention 1920s-1940s', Abhijit Gupta and Swapan Chakravorty, eds., Moveable Type: Book History in India (New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2008)
  • James Long, Strike, but Hear! (Calcutta. R.C. Lepage, 1961):
  • Ranajit Guha, 'Neel- Darpan: the Image of a Peasant Revolt in a Liberal Mirror'Journal of Peasant Studies, 2: 1 (Oct. 1974), 1.46