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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Undergraduate Course: Censorship (ENLI10357)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryJohn Milton's 'Areopagitica' (1644) describes two forms of censorship: pre-publication censorship, which Milton rejects as incompatible with English liberty; and destruction of the book after publication, which he holds compatible with English justice. This course studies the ways in which censorship, pre- and post-publication, has been enforced, resisted, and accepted from the seventeenth century to the present day. The operation of the censor is apparent in the prosecution of authors, publishers and booksellers for blasphemy, sedition, and obscenity; but censorship operates just as effectively through editorial intervention and the quiet rejection of offending texts by libraries and bookshops. We will learn about the economic, social, and legal pressures to which writers and publishers are subject, considering how the threat of censorship influences the formation, production, and reception of literature. We will read a range of texts that have provoked official and unofficial censorship, and texts that articulate and challenge the position of the censor. Throughout the course, we will analyse censorship¿s construction of vulnerable readers, who, like Don Quixote, the hero of the first novel, become that which they read.

This course will run in the Centre for Research Collections in the University of Edinburgh¿s Main Library, where students will have the opportunity to examine rare books that have been subject to censorship or were published with the intention of challenging censorship. We will discuss the material properties of texts and learn how censorship operates at various points in the lifecycle of the text, particularly with regard to the production, distribution and reception of literary works.

In this course we will be discussing content that may be traumatising to some students. We believe in the importance of engaging with this material and so please rest assured that we will work with you to ensure you can participate fully and demonstrate your achievement of the learning outcomes of the course, without compromising your wellbeing or your academic development. If you have concerns at any point we invite you to approach the course organiser Dr Katherine Inglis ( to discuss how we can best support you in your work on this course. We affirm that you will be treated with dignity and respect in all discussions and at every stage of the course.
Course description The reading list for this course can be found on the Resource List site and in the English Literature option course description handbook. Essential readings will be highlighted on the Resource List. Topics to be covered on this course include: theories of censorship, the rhetorical construction of vulnerable readers in writing about and against censorship, licensing systems (print and theatre), and legal frameworks (with particular attention to sedition, blasphemy, obscenity, and defamation in the Anglo-American legal tradition). Students will be able to analyse censorship in relation to racism, misogyny, xenophobia, minoritized sexualities, political dissidence, self-censorship, and writing for young people. The course's approach will enable students to research how specific censorship mechanisms operate at different stages in the life-cycles of books and plays, and how various agents and institutions engage in acts of censorship.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) OR Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016)) AND ( English Literature 2 (ENLI08003) OR Scottish Literature 2 (ENLI08004))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Essential course texts
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesA MINIMUM of three college/university level literature courses at grade B or above (should include no more than one introductory level literature course). Related courses such as civilisation or creative writing are not considered for admissions to this course. Applicants should also note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission. In making admissions decisions preference will be given to students who achieve above the minimum requirement with the typical visiting student admitted to this course having three to four literature classes at grade A.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  15
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Other Study Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) Plus one hour per week autonomous learning
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Standard model:
2500 word coursework essay (40%) submitted mid-semester
+ 3000 word final essay submitted at end of semester / in exam period (60%).

OR: Alternative model: alternative coursework assessment (40%)
+ 3000 word final essay submitted at end of semester / in exam period (60%)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. By the end of this course, students will be able to: - understand the legislative, economic and cultural contexts of censorship;
  2. - discuss the relationship between literary production and censorship, primarily in relation to British fiction, poetry and prose;
  3. - articulate how censorship operates prior to publication, during the publication process, and after publication;
  4. - analyse the impact of censorship on historical and contemporary ideas of the reader.
Reading List
Indicative Bibliography: the full Bibliography is on the Resource List for the course:

Brantlinger, Patrick, The Reading Lesson: The Threat of Mass Literacy in Nineteenth-Century British Fiction (Indiana UP, 1998).
Fellion, Matthew, and Katherine Inglis, Censored: A Literary History of Subversion and Control (London: British Library, 2017).
Flint, Kate, The Woman Reader 1837-1914. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993).
Griest, Guinevere L., Mudie's Circulating Library and the Victorian Novel (Bloomington: Indiana UP,1970).
Heath, Deana, 'Obscenity, Censorship and Modernity', in A Companion to the History of the Book, ed. Simon Eliot and Jonathan Rose, (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007), pp. 508-519.
Hunter, Ian, David Saunders and Dugald Williamson, On Pornography: Literature, Sexuality and Obscenity Law (New York: St Martin's, 1993).
Hyland, Paul, and Neil Sammells (eds.), Writing and Censorship in Britain (London: Routledge, 1992).
Nash, David, ed. Blasphemy in Britain and America, 1800-1930. (Pickering & Chatto, 2010).
Pease, Allison, Modernism, Mass Culture, and the Aesthetics of Obscenity (CUP, 2000).
Shellard, Dominic and Steve Nicholson, The Lord Chamberlain Regrets...: A History of British Theatre Censorship (London: British Library, 2004).
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Two-hour seminar per week for 10 weeks;
plus Autonomous Learning Group for 1 hour per week for 10 weeks, at times to be arranged.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Katherine Inglis
Tel: (0131 6)50 3617
Course secretaryMs Sheila Strathdee
Tel: (0131 6)50 3619
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