Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature (SoFCB Lecture)
5 March 2019
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Library Lecture Room, Clapp Library, Wellesley College
Presented by: Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School, Book Studies at Wellesley, the Friends of the Wellesley University Library, the Newhouse Center for the Humanities, and Wellesley Departments of French and History
A Lecture by Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor Emeritus and University Librarian Emeritus, Harvard University
The difficulty with the history of censorship is that it looks so simple: it pits oppression against freedom of expression. But if one looks harder, it appears more complicated—and full of surprises. How did censors actually do their work? How did they understand it? And how did it fit into the surrounding social and political context? By studying the day-to-day operations of censors under three authoritarian regimes—Bourbon France in the eighteenth century, British India in the nineteenth century, and Communist East Germany in the twentieth century—it is possible to rethink our understanding of censorship in general.
Robert Darnton taught at Princeton from 1968 until 2007, when he became the Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and director of the University Library at Harvard. Among his honors are a MacArthur Fellowship, a National Book Critics Circle award, election to the French Legion of Honor, the National Humanities Medal, conferred by President Obama in February 2012, and the Del Duca World Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Institut de France in 2013.