Intro to Censorship: Why talk about it?

The Literary Society is not the same without its hottest takes. Here is one from your author: we take freedom of expression for granted.

In the digital age, humankind has access to social media and a mass amount of information. There is room for us to interact with people across the globe and debate on anything our hearts desire. We bring moments to life through song, word and visual art, reaching out to each other’s hearts and minds. Consequences are dilute. Expression is accepted, desired and encouraged. Or is it?

Our common perception is that limitations do not really exist now, that they only existed before. Our history textbooks open censorship to us and inform us of events or texts that have been banned before, such as The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien - a text that has been featured in the ‘Dublin: One City, One Book’ this year. Our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents immortalise events through their stories also. You may be a child of an artist that had to flee a country to release their art and make money. Your author is a grandchild of someone who enjoyed reading so much, that they nearly got prosecuted for reading Nietzsche. Censorship is a reality of a previous time, so why talk about it now?

It is the reality of nations today.

It is forgotten that limitations to freedom to express oneself exist today, Western world included. They may be hidden, or they may be a visible limitation to every creative individual that is trapped within a state. Attempts have been made to challenge some of our most beloved books in recent years and in Western cultures, such as the Harry Potter series or Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park. Censorship of literature exists everywhere, and has an impact on society and culture. Talking about it helps us to recognise its harms on literature and acknowledge the artists who faced prosecution for their works and still made an impact in the long run. It helps us to appreciate our freedoms and spark interest in other nations. What’s happening there? Why have book burnings? Why regulate the film industry? Why rewrite theatre from one language into a hybrid of another? Why exile writers and artists?

Find out in ‘Literary Censorship Around the World’, the launch of my reading group on this theme. We will be in the Attic with Russian Soc from 5-6pm on Tuesday 1st October to chat about censorship in Russia, and throughout the year we will look at different countries from around the world. You can come to this first event without signing up for the rest if you would prefer! So come, have the chats, and help figure out why censorship is dangerous over a cup of tea and biscuits.