This talk will discuss the political motives and reasons for censorship. It will go on to explore the censorial attitude more generally, with a focus on self-censorship: both voluntary self-repression from a rational fear of reprisal and the unconscious self-censorship of perception which belongs to human nature at all times but is especially strong in a period of prevalent social anxiety. Examples will be given to interpret E.M. Forster's saying "How do I know what I think till I see what I say?" and a possible conclusion offered: that candor and self-restraint need not be contradictory virtues.
David Bromwich is Sterling Professor of English at Yale University. He has taught and published widely on British Romanticism, eighteenth-century political thought, and modern poetry. His commentaries on American culture and politics have appeared in the Nation, the London Review of Books, the American Conservative, and Raritan, among other journals. His books include Hazlitt: the Mind of a Critic, Moral Imagination, The Intellectual Life of Edmund Burke, and How Words Make Things Happen, along with editions of Burke's speeches and letters and The Turn of the Screw.
Flora Champy is an Assistant Professor of French at Princeton University. Her research focuses on the history of literary and political ideas of the French Enlightenment. Her first book, L’Antiquité politique de Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Entre exemples et modèles (Classiques Garnier, 2022), explores the connection between Rousseau’s representation of Ancient republics and his conceptualization of democracy. She is also the coeditor of two volumes on classical reception in Early modern Europe : Médiations et construction de l’Antiquité dans l’Europe moderne (2021, co-edited with Caroline Labrune) and Imagining Ancient and Oriental Languages in Enlightenment France (Paris: Hermann, 2023, coedited with Élise Pavy and Carole Boidin).
With an introduction by Greg Conti, Assistant Professor of Politics, Princeton University.
Part of the James Madison Program Initiative on Freedom of Thought, Inquiry, and Expression.