NBN Newsletter #12
Featuring a playlist about censorship and a spotlight on The Future of ... with Owen Bennett-Jones
To define censorship in one fell swoop is a difficult task. It can take shape in many different forms, some more obvious or malevolent than others. A common legal definition of censorship is the policing of published media through inspection and prohibition. Reporters Without Borders publishes a yearly world press freedom index that ranks countries based on the legal protections afforded to reporters, the social and economic constraints that might discourage accurate reporting, and the physical safety of those who wish to report the news.
A wider net finds censorship in other areas we might not deem to be as harmful or authoritarian, some of which we may agree with or find to be common sense restrictions. For example, bans on hate speech or fighting words are forms of censorship, as are the socially enforced prohibition of mature content on cable television and the MPAA film rating system.
It seems that everywhere we look there is some form of censorship rendered with some degree of strength. “To be for or against censorship as such is to assume freedom no one has. Censorship is.”
In this week’s playlist, we feature a number of perspectives on censorship, free speech, restrictions in film and television, historical prohibitions on expression, and much more.
Margaret E. Roberts, Censored: Distraction and Diversion Inside China’s Great Firewall (Princeton UP, 2020)
Kara Ritzheimer, “Trash,” Censorship, and National Identity in Early Twentieth-Century Germany (Cambridge UP, 2016)
Robert J. Savage, Northern Ireland, the BBC and Censorship in Thatcher’s Britain (Oxford UP, 2022)
Hannah Marcus, Forbidden Knowledge: Medicine, Science, and Censorship in Early Modern Italy (UChicago Press, 2020)
Nadine Strossen, Hate: Why We Should Resist it With Free Speech, Not Censorship (Oxford UP, 2020)
Sarah Fatima Waheed, Hidden Histories of Pakistan: Censorship, Literature, and Secular Nationalism in Late Colonial India (Cambridge UP, 2022)
Eric Berkowitz, Dangerous Ideas: A Brief History of Censorship in the West from the Ancients to Fake News (Beacon Press, 2021)
Farah Nayeri, Takedown: Art and Power in the Digital Age (Astra Publishing, 2022)
Robin Vose, The Index of Prohibited Books: Four Centuries of Struggle over Word and Image for the Greater Glory of God (Reaktion, 2022)
Censorship and Writing with Joseph Brodsky and Susan Sontag (NYIH, 1980)
Richard Sennett, Rousseau's Ideas About Censorship in the Arts (NYIH, 1982)
The Future of… with Owen Bennett-Jones
In The Future of…, veteran journalist Owen Bennett-Jones delves into some of the most pressing issues of our time with politicians, scholars, scientists, doctors, writers, and public intellectuals.
Listen on Spotify
Check out Owen’s interview with Azadeh Moaveni on the future of political resistance in Iran.
New Books, Links, & Other Things
Gary Saul Morson and Morton Schapiro, Minds Wide Shut: How the New Fundamentalisms Divide Us (Princeton UP, 2021)
Caleb Smith, Thoreau's Axe: Distraction and Discipline in American Culture (Princeton UP, 2023)
Siddharth Kara, Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives (St. Martin’s Press, 2023)
Lewis R. Gordon, Fear of Black Consciousness (FSG, 2022)
Interested in Becoming an NBN Host?
Are you interested in becoming a New Books Network host? Are you a professor, graduate student, or an expert in a particular field of study? Apply to become a host to help support our mission of creating a free and accessible academic library!