Fall

Politics of Satire and Humor in Modern China
East Asian Studies – Associate Professor Hong Zhang

Explores the evolving role of satire, jokes, and comics in modern China from the Republican Period (1912-48) to Maoist China (1949-78) and reform-era China (1978-present). Particular attention to new and historical forms and targets of Chinese political humor as a way to understand changing state-society relations. Should the proliferation of political humor on the Internet be seen as a sign of new political openness or a part of everyday forms of resistance under authoritarian rule in contemporary China?

 

Seminar: Sex in Art
Art- Professor Veronique Plesch

This research seminar investigates the different ways in which sexuality is represented throughout the history of art with special focus on topics that involve censorship issues. In addition to background reading on the history of sexuality and on sexuality in the visual arts, we will study in detail cases of censorship in museums and in public funding for the arts. In addition to conducting research on a chosen topic and making regular progress reports, students will have the the opportunity to interact with works of art from the Colby College Museum of Art and through them engage with the community, from both the campus and the town—fostering dialogue on the works and their potential for censorship. Prerequisite: Art 111 or 112.

 

Censorship Uncovered Across Campus
Art- Valerie Dionne, Lauren Lessing, Matthew Timme

The theme of censorship will be covered through films, documentaries, art exhibits, lectures from invited speakers, filmmakers, artists, photographers, and writers such as Salman Rushdie, Cavah Zahedi, Trevor Paglen, Deepa Mehta. Students are expected to attend five films, talks, or art exhibits, and write a one-page commentary for each. Nongraded.

 

Philosophy of Art
Philosophy- Associate Professor Lydia Moland

This course explores the philosophy of art through understanding censorship.  What defines art?  Is art meant to communicate a message and, if not, why have political regimes often censored artists?  Does a community sometimes have a moral responsibility to censor obscene, offensive, or dangerous art?  How has our evolving concept of art changed our attitudes towards censorship? As part of this course, students will also work with the Colby Museum of Art on an installation of censored art.

 

Satire, Sedition, and Censorship in Early Modern France
French and Italian- Assistant Professor Valerie M. Dionne

Satire and caricature use words and images to unmask and reveal sensitive problems in society. This class will focus on mockery and censorship in the literature and prints of early modern France. We will investigate how words and images alike manifest implicit and explicit responses to the threat of censorship. As a central feature of the course, students will conduct a semester-long research project creating a website that either draws on banned books and plays from Rabelais, Moliere, La Fontaine, and Voltaire, or analyzes caricatural prints of the period. Prerequisite: Senior standing as a French studies major and permission of the instructor.

 

Creative Nonfiction Writing I
English- Professor Michael D. Burke

A creative writing workshop that introduces students to the forms and possibilities of creative nonfiction, including essays of time and place, memoirs, profiles, and literary journalism. Progresses through a review of models, writing exercises, drafts, and finished pieces, with an emphasis on the workshop process, in which students share work and comment on each others efforts. For 2013, includes an examination of self-censorship. Censorship has usually implied the censor and the censored, but for many writers, these two beings are combined into one, the writer, who performs the censorious operation on him/herself. Prerequisite: Any W1 course or equivalent.

 

Ovid and the Censored Voice
Classics- Associate Professor Kerill O’Neill

Ovid is perhaps the most famous victim of censorship in classical antiquity, but even banishment could not silence him. We will read selections from the Metamorphoses, Tristia, and Ars Amatoria that: explicitly address the suppression of the poets speech, figuratively present the poets response to censorship, or possibly constitute the reason for his exile. Through reading Latin texts and secondary literature, and performing original research, you will develop familiarity with the genius of Ovid, and enhance your abilities in: language; literary, historical, and cultural analysis; oral and written communication. Prerequisite: Latin 131, or appropriate score on the College Board Latin SAT Subject Test, AP Latin exam, or a higher level Latin course.

 

Spring

Censoring Sisters

Religious Studies- Professor Debra Campbell

A close examination of two condemned books by sisters (nuns): Elizabeth Johnson’s Quest for the Living God (2007) and Margaret Farley’s Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics (2006), how they came to be declared unorthodox by representatives of the Catholic hierarchy, and how the authors and their supporters responded to the hierarchy’s actions. Students will gain insights into the dynamics of religious condemnation, censorship, and dissent in the modern Catholic Church, practice discussing religious controversies, refine their writing skills, and form their own opinions about Johnson’s and Farley’s books and the hierarchy’s actions.

 

Philosophy of Humor
Philosophy- Associate Professor Lydia Moland

Comedians regularly get away with saying what would otherwise be censored.  Why?  Why does saying it’s “just a joke” allow us to assert things we otherwise know are offensive, harmful, or untrue?  Why has comedy sometimes been the one way in which political protest can evade government censorship?  This course will focus on the epistemological, metaphysical, moral and aesthetic aspects of comedy and humor.  We will use these philosophical approaches to assess comedy’s unique status as regards censorship.

 

History of Modern Philosophy
Philosophy- Associate Professor Lydia Moland

This course focuses on some of the most famous philosophers in the history of European thought: Descartes, Spinoza, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, and Kant.  Every one of these philosophers feared or experienced censorship.  Some censorship was religious, and some was political.  Some philosophers censored their own writings in fear of reprisals; some spoke out and were excommunicated or otherwise punished for their views.  In studying each philosopher’s theory, we will also ask why their thoughts were considered dangerous enough to be censored.  What we can learn about censorship in our own culture from understanding censorship in theirs?

 

Secrecy and Power
Anthropology- Assistant Professor David Strohl

This seminar examines the use of secrecy in political, religious, and social contexts. Students will engage with theoretical, ethnographic, and historical texts to trace the development of key analytical, methodological, and ethical issues concerning the anthropological study of concealment. Topics will vary according to student interest but may include transparency, surveillance, publicity, privacy, passing, argots, codes and ciphers, dissimulation, esotericism, and epistemology. Students will complete an independent research project on the use of secrecy in a historical or social context of their choosing. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112.