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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Comparative Literature (CMLIT)

CMLIT 130 (GH;IL) Banned Books: International and Comparative Perspectives (3) The world of banned books, their history, and their politics, studied comparatively and internationally.

CMLIT 130 Banned Books: International and Comparative Perspectives (3)
(GH;IL)

This course examines one of the most documented events in the history of book reception—the banning of books. Bannings provide a useful window onto the myriad functions of culture in social identity formation. In order to understand how and why offense is given and taken, students will learn to place texts in a specific context of their historical production and reception and also to extrapolate connections between disparate moments when taboos were named. Incorporating examples from a range of global systems of censorship, the course examines differences in the modes and effects of repression and the sometimes surprising connections between church and monarchy, fascism and democracy.

This course raises the following questions:
-How has censorship been justified? When, if ever, is censorship justifiable?
-What are the grounds on which censorship can be judged successful or incomplete?
-Who censors? Who is censored?
-What are local categories of censorship? Though books are banned for reasons of blasphemy, sedition, and obscenity in various guises in several cultures, are these global categories?
-How do writers write against a ban? How do they write within it?
-What are the roles of importation, technologies of circulation, and geography in the censorship of texts? How do border-crossings and forms of miscegenation offend?
-Is there a unifying aesthetics to books that offend?

Class work emphasizes discussions, group work, writing exercises, and student presentations. This participatory approach is intended to deepen students’ appreciation of the works and the historical, literary, and ethical problems they present. The course will help students understand value systems and historical contexts in which they were produced and in which they caused offense. It will also ask students to draw connections between seemingly unrelated moments of offense in order to assist students in developing both analytical and expressive abilities.

The course is designed to be suitable for all students, whether or not they have previously studied literature or comparative literature.


General Education: GH
Diversity: IL
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Summer 2010

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.

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Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.



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