Forbidden Access: Censoring Books and Archives

6-7 November 2014

A collaboration between the Institute of English Studies, the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and Senate House Library.

‘Forbidden Access’ is a multidisciplinary conference exploring how published works and archival materials and the ideas contained in them are affected, obscured or distorted by censorship.

The conference seeks to explore the proliferating and divisive causes, symptoms and effects of the censoring impulse, from overt interference with a text to the subtler, intangible effects of caution and fear in the face of anticipated control, and to do so in relation to a variety of angles and contexts: aesthetic, cultural, socio-economic, ideological, legal, and political.

Image: Postal and Telegraph Censorship Department worker checks the content of a letter.

Organising committee: Wim Van Mierlo (IES), Jules Winterton (IALS), Richard Espley (Senate House Library), David Clover (Senate House Library), Belinda Crothers (IALS)

Enquiries: Institute of English Studies, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU; tel +44 (0) 207 862 8675; Email:


£60 Standard rate

£35 Speakers/IES Members&Friends/Students/Unwaged



Thursday 6 November

9.00am: Registration
9.30am: Welcome and Introduction - Room 349, 3rd Floor

Jackie Marfleet (Director, SHL) and Richard Espley (SHL)

10.00-11.20am: Panel Session        Room 349

I: Restricted Access

Chair: Judith Townsend (IALS)

Ronan Cormacain (IALS), “Deliberate Inaccessibility of Legislation”

Paul Lihoma (Malawi National Archives) and James Lowry (International Records Management Trust), “Access Restrictions and the Surveillance of Dissent in the Malawi National Archives under the Single-Party State”

Lawrence McNamara (Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law), “Closed Judgments in Terrorism and Security Cases: What Becomes of Them?”

11.20 – 11.40am: Break       Coffee at room 349/350  or 2nd floor foyer
11.40 – 1pm: Panel Sessions
  IIa: Public Controversies and Censorship Campaigns     Room 349

Chair: David Clover (SHL)

Rona Cran (UCL), “Censoring William Burroughs: the 1963-64 Times Literary Supplement Controversy”

Martin Goodman (Hull), “The Obscenity Trials of 1954-60 – a 60th Anniversary Perspective”

  IIb: Censorship: Trans-historical and Trans-national Perspectives       Room G34, Ground

Chair: Katherine Inglish (University of Edinburgh)

Sara Medina-Calzada (University of Valladolid), “The Role of Censorship in the Early Reception of English Literature in Spain”

Louise Seaward (Queen Mary, University of London), “Working Together: Censorship across Borders in Eighteenth-Century Geneva”

Ellen Wiles (University of Stirling), ‘Uncovering a Hidden Literary culture: Writers and Writing under Censorship and Transition in Myanmar (Burma)’

1-2pm: Lunch  
2-3.20pm: Panel Sessions

IIIa: Censorship, Church and State      Room 349

Chair: Richard Espley (SHL)

Luke J. Dawes (Monash University), “Libricide in the Archipelago: Book-Burning in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia"

Tom Charlton (University of Stirling), “Richard Baxter under Restoration Censorship”

Jana Fischerova (University College Dublin), “Frank O’Connor and the Spirit of Irish Censorship”


IIIb: Censorship: Principles and Concepts      Room G34, Ground

Chair: Karen Attar (SHL)

Jesse Elvin and Claire de Than (City University London), “Censorship, the Barbra Streisand Effect and King Canute

Katherine Inglis (University of Edinburgh), “Teaching Censorship”

Henry Irving (IES), “’The Chaos was Indescribable’: The Ministry of Information and Censorship in the Second World War”

3.20-3.40pm: Break

3.40 – 5.10 pm:


Chair: David Clover (SHL)

Rachel Potter (UEA), “Censorship, Literature and Free Speech”

5.15pm Drinks reception

Friday 7 November

9.30 – 10.50 am: Panel Session       Room 349

V: Forbidden Books

Chair: Judith Townsend

Renae Satterley (Middle Temple), “Hidden Censorship in the Middle Temple Library’s Collection of Early Printed Books”

Richard Espley (SHL), “Alec Craig: Pioneering Opponent and Marginalised Victim of Sexual Censorship”

Nicole Moore (UNSW Canberra), “General Order 890: Re-making Australia’s Banned Book List”

10.50-11.10am: Break
11.10-12.30pm: Panel Session       Room 349

VI: Censorship and the Library 

Chair: Jules Winterton (IALS)

Rachel MacGregor (Library of Birmingham), “‘Unadulterated Filth’: Jean Genet in the Library”

Louise Cooke (Loughborough University) and Clare Ravenwood (Loughborough University), “Censorship in Public Libraries: Pressure and Resistance”

Liam Sims (Cambridge University Library), “The Cambridge University Library ‘Arc’

12.30-1.30pm Lunch
1.30-2.50pm: Panel Session       Room 349

VII: Censorship and Public Institutions

Chair: Henry Irving (IES)

Suzy Espley (The National Archives), “The Role of the Web Archivist as Censor and Guide when Preserving the Online Public Record”

Helen Lindsay (ACR, Collections Care Consultant), “Hostile Biography: Authorship and Redacting in the KV2/ Series of MI5 Files”

Emma Robinson (University of Birmingham), “‘In Britain you are relatively free to say and print what you like’: George Orwell and Wartime Censorship”

2.50-3.10pm: Break
3.10-4.30pm: Panel Session        Room 349

VIII: Gate Keeping

Chair: Renae Satterley (The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple)

Lise Jaillant (UEA), “Gate Keeper: Control and Access to Publishers’ Archives”

Rebecca Knuth (University of Hawaii), “Censoring Lives: A Comparative Approach”

4.30-4.40pm: SHORT BREAK
4.40-6.00pm: Panel Session           Room 349

IV: Unlicensed Literary Licentiousness     

Chair: Richard Espley (SHL)

Elizabeth English (Cardiff Metropolitan University), “Foul Minds and Foul Mouths: Censorship, Lesbian Sexuality and a Turn to Genre Fiction”

Stacy Gillis (University of Newcastle), “‘A Work of a Tendency So Grossly Immoral’: Copyright, Burlesque and Elinor Glyn’s Three Weeks”

Owen Heathcote (University of Bradford), “Banning the Boy: Éric Jourdan’s Les Mauvais Anges (1955)”

The School of Advanced Study is part of the central University of London. The School takes its responsibility to visitors with special needs very seriously and will endeavour to make reasonable adjustments to its facilities in order to accommodate the needs of such visitors. If you have a particular requirement, please feel free to discuss it confidentially with the organiser in advance of the event taking place.