Literature and censorship

In 2012, the Australasian Association for Literature conference will address the long and traumatic relationship of literature and censorship.

Literature and censorship have been conceived as long-time adversaries, each opposed to the precepts of the other. This conference seeks to understand the degree to which they have been dialectical terms, rather, each producing the other, coeval and mutually constitutive. In 1994, Michael Holquist declared "To be for or against censorship as such is to assume a freedom no-one has. Censorship is. One can only discriminate among its more or less repressive effects." Articulating what was then a new poststructuralist take on censorship, Holquist posited it as not only inescapable but definitive; in fact foundational to speech itself.

After the opening of the USSR’s spekstrahn, the enormous collection of literature forbidden under the Soviets, containing more than one million items, this push to redefine censorship so expansively has encountered cogent criticism. German scholars describing the centralised control of East German print publication, for example, have wanted to insist on the substantive difference of pre-publication state censorship from such mundane forms of speech regulation in democracies. Work on South African apartheid censorship and the operations of censorship in colonial countries is also demonstrating its formative role in the institutional structures of literature beyond the metropole. Is literature ever without censorship? Does censorship need the literary? In a globalising era for culture, does censorship represent the final (failed) version of national control?

Offers for papers considering all aspects of literature and censorship are welcomed, but could address:

·      Comparative national censorships

·      Censorship and colonialism

·      Obscenity and empire

·      Literary sedition

·      Beyond the literary: The censorship of popular and pulp titles

·      Censorship histories of the book

·      Publishing, library and self-censorship

·      Literature, censorship and the law

·      Blasphemy, religion and literary censorship

·      Obscenity and the literary regulation of sexuality

·      The limits of expression and the definition of offence

·      Censorship and translation

·      Political censorship ‘post-ideology’

·      Censorship after the book


Please submit titles and abstracts for proposed papers by April 6, 2012 to Shirley Ramsay using our online form.

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Call for papers now open

The call for papers has now opened. Submit your paper via our online form

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Conference convenor: Nicole Moore