The Committee on Evil Literature

Censorship, Committee on Evil Literature film the graduate

I’ve been making a lot of references to my dissertation as I’m in the throws of finishing it currently, so I thought I’d go into a bit more detail about it. Its been a year long project so it feels a bit weird to be coming to the end of it which is especially stressful. For the majority of the project I’ve enjoyed the process, particularly trawling through the archives to find documents. In most cases I’ve been handling letters handwritten from 1926, for a history geek like me that’s pretty major!

The main reason I was initially drawn to the topic was the name, a committee on evil literature? Its a pretty crazy name for a committee. I’m also, obviously, very interested in media and literature.
Some of the things that I’ve come across have been crazy and hilarious coming from today’s perspective. In 10,000 words I can only zone in on the Committee itself, which is a pity and a relief as there is so much out there on censorship in Ireland. One of the more humorous things that I stumbled upon was this article from the Independent.co.uk about film censorship in Ireland. Although the Committee and Censorship Bill stems from the 1920s it lasted well into the 70s, especially films as you can see.

‘Sexual affairs, homosexuality,birth control, abortion and prostitution had no chance. The version of TheGraduate seen in Ireland was baffling. First it was banned altogether. But thecensor then allowed it, leaving 11 sections on the cutting-room floor andremoving all references to Dustin Hoffman’s affair with Anne Bancroft. As JohnKelleher put it: “The seduction scene is at the core of the film but theIrish audience, which was not allowed to see that scene, remained blissfullyunaware they were having anything more than a nice cup of tea.’

The Committee on Evil Literature took evidence of what people in Ireland thought to be ‘obscene’ and ‘indecent’. Among things submitted were advertisements for Veet hair-removal cream and a list of publications that should have been banned, including Vogue. As I said, it seems crazy in today’s world but alas this did go on and not only in Ireland either.

Censorship, Committee on Evil Literature

Censorship, Committee on Evil Literature
I thought I’d start a new history based series on the historical areas that I’m interested in (fashion, people,places) and I’ll probably come back to my dissertation at a later date because I can’t discuss it properly before I hand it in, I’d hate to give my plot/argument away too early in the game!

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