This course examines the role of formal and informal censorship in British media since the early 20th century and its role in policing the moral, sexual and political status quo. Through the study of key texts (media artifacts such as film, television, novels and newspapers,) we will chart cultural and political change in Britain and the responses of British audiences. The course adopts a case study approach to important debates raised by this contentious issue. Central questions addressed by the course include: Is censorship a civil necessity or a means of controlling information? Are there vulnerable groups in society who need to be protected from ‘damaging’ information and images? What effects might censorship have on the democratic aspects of national and international life? How do you know you are being censored anyway?
Students will discuss extracts from controversial texts and examine the motives of the institutions that produced and censored them. A strong emphasis is placed on studying the context in which the texts were originally circulated and consumed, and the debates that they provoked. The course provides opportunities to utilize the resources of the British Film Institute library and there will be a range of key readings provided by the professor regarding. Students are encouraged to make every effort to pursue recommended readings and to undertake original research in their academic writings, and must not rely solely on the Internet.