Banned Books: Censorship in Eighteenth-Century England

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GRIN Verlag, 2010 - Censorship - 96 pages
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Thesis (M.A.) from the year 2009 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Culture and Applied Geography, grade: 1,7, University of Munster (Englische Philologie), language: English, abstract: The historical development of censorship is parallel to the evolution of our civilization. If one talks about censorship as a type of social control then one is "overstretching" the concept of the word, as there are a wide variety of social control measures. Thus, breeding can be regarded as censorship or God's verdict about a forbidden fruit can also be considered as a censorship act. But, since the focal point of this paper is literary censorship, a narrower meaning of the term, such as book censorship, is required. Traditionally, book censorship has been seen as a control over printed expression by authorities, and mostly by the church or government. Alec Craig emphasizes that "it is writing rather than speech that attracts authoritative attention and social pressures because it is so much more enduring and effective; and books have been subject to control of some sort wherever they have been an important medium of communication." The earliest examples of such regulations can already be found in Ancient Rome and Greece, where the works of Ovid and Socrates were suppressed, or in China, where the writings of Confucius were banned and burned by order of the emperor. However, these censorship measures were not of systematical character, and authorities in the ancient world failed to institutionalize this practice of book suppression. Not until the invention of the printing press and a consequential wide spread adoption in the usage of printing books, especially during the Reformation, was it necessary for the authorities to create a system of sharp control of the written word. It is widely known that literature is one of the richest sources that contains the knowledge of social consciousness. It portrays the impression of social norms and values as well as mod

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