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Censorship of Books in the United States and Susan Glaspells Trifles Overview of the History of Censorship in the United States - Essay Example

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Books and other forms of literature are banned for several reasons, but mainly because the material is considered “sexually explicit,” it contains “offensive language,” and that it is “unsuited to any age group” (“About Banned & Challenged Books”). …
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Censorship of Books in the United States and Susan Glaspells Trifles Overview of the History of Censorship in the United States
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Censorship of Books in the United States and Susan Glaspells Trifles Overview of the History of Censorship in the United States

The banning of the books in the United States of America unofficially began in 1749 with John Cleland’s Fanny Hill was condemned for its “frank sexual descriptions” (“The Online Books Page”). At that time, there was no clear law yet that banned books and other forms of written materials. However, in 1873, the 1873 Comstock Act was made into law by the federal and state governments. It called for the banning of all literature considered “sexually arousing” as well as those about contraception (“Book Censorship”). The author of the act, Anthony Comstock, was appointed leader of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice and helped in the banning of foreign literature during his time, such as Chaucher’s The Canterbury Tales, Defoe’s Moll Flanders, Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, several editions of The Arabian Nights, and Boccaccio’s Decameron (“The Online Books Page”). After the 1873 Comstock Act, the law was modified into many other various laws that banned literature. This led to the banning of Margaret Sanger’s Family Limitation in 1915, James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1918, anti-war pamphlets in 1919, Rousseau’s Confessions in 1929, Voltaire’s Candide in 1930, Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience in 1950, John T. Scopes’ Civic Biology, Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind in 1978, the Grimm’s Fairy Tales in 1989, and even the Christian Bible in 1996 (“The Online Books Page”). Books were banned in schools and the banning was supported by teachers, parents, churches and even civic groups, all with various agenda. Among the works banned in America during the early 20th century were those of Susan Glaspell. Biography of Susan Glaspell Susan Glaspell is considered as “the mother of modern American drama” (Real i). Moreover, according to Rohe, Glaspell is known as “the spirit and he mind and the soul of the real America of to-day, expressed in literature” (qtd. in Real i). Glaspell was born in Davenport, Iowa in 1876 and grew up there until she graduated from college in Des Moines and eventually landed a job in the Des Moines paper, where she was assigned the task of writing about the murder trial of a certain John Hossack in 1900. This murder trial became the basis of her 1916 one-act play Trifles. Overall, Glaspell authored 14 plays, 9 novels and 3 short story collections (Gainor & Dickey 35). Susan Glaspell was born and became a playwright, journalist, poet and novelist during the era of literature known as modernism, a movement where irony and satire were used to express governmental or social criticism. Glaspell’s hometown, Davenport, was extremely instrumental in making her one of the most controversial and critical writers of her time. In fact, Davenport is described as “a community more conducive than many other Midwestern locales to fostering creativity and progressive thought” (35). This is something which is characteristic of modernism. A huge part of modernism was the vindication of women’s rights, which was still an issue during Glaspell’s time. In fact, her first profession was journalism as it was, according to Glaspell herself, “comparatively receptive to women” (35). By 1915, Glaspell and her husband George Cram Cook – a classics professor, itinerant farmer and poet/novelist – left Davenport because of its increasing conservativeness and conventionality, and headed for the more radical environs of Greenwich Village. This occurred at exactly the same time that artists, intellectuals, bohemians and political activists also began seeking their own place as they all began embracing modernism (35-36). Glaspell and her ... Read More
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It was not until 1966 that the book was finally released to the public as its content was determined to be irrelevant and unsurprising. Since the banning of Cleland’s novel, censorship has been used to protect people from improper media according to the standards of the government and smaller organizations that focus on censorship, though this has sparked the issue of how much censorship is too much censorship.
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