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47th Annual Comparative Literature Conference

censorship newspaper“Freedom of speech means that you shall not do something to people either for the views they have, or the views they express, or the words they speak or write.” ~ Hugo L. Black, U.S. Supreme Court Justice 1963

“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches” ~ Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 tape over mouth censorship

“Censorship is never over those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever.” ~ Nadine Gordimer

“Imagine books and music and movies being filtered and homogenized. Certified. Approved for consumption. People will be happy to give up most of their culture for the assurance that the tiny bit that comes through is safe and clean. White noise.” ~ Chuck Palahnuik

“Art is never chaste. It ought to be forbidden to ignorant innocents, never allowed into contact with those not sufficiently prepared. Yes, art is dangerous. Where it is chaste, it is not art. “ ~ Pablo Picasso


Drawing the Line(s): Censorship & Cultural Practices ~ March 1st – 3rd, 2012

The history of human culture has always been engaged with classifying and upholding the politically and socially acceptable, ethical and moral. On the flip side, it has also been equally engaged with what is deemed as forbidden, shocking, inappropriate, tasteless, improper, reprehensible and even scandalous. Censorship and freedom of expression are not just modern-day issues or debates. To be heard, seen, erased or silenced in written, spoken or visual form has vexed humanity since the Ancient and Classical debates on good governance and freedom of speech. In fact, from early Jewish, Christian and Islamic notions of iconography, destruction of books in Ancient China, Medieval inquisitions, Galileo’s defense of Copernican theory, Counter Reformation, Salem Witch trials, McCarthyism to the Culture wars of the 1980s and today’s concerns about technological communication, surveillance and scientific advancements, censorship has been at the forefront of cultural practices globally and through time.

Drawing the Line(s): Censorship and Cultural Practices” is the 47th Annual Comparative Literature Conference, an interdisciplinary gathering of scholars, artists, and practitioners from all walks of the arts and the academy, that aims to consider censorship in a broad scale across time periods, disciplines and languages. It seeks to examine literature, images, visual objects and mechanisms, the political and social events from diverse cultures, across national boundaries, and within global contexts.


Conference Schedule

censored redFinal Version: PDF file


Plenary Talk: In Praise of Censorship

Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture, Amherst College

Friday, March 2nd, 2012 at 2:00 pm ~ Karl Anatol Center

Ilan Stavans

Dr. Ilan Stavans is one of today’s preeminent essayists, cultural critics, and translators. A native from Mexico, his books include The Hispanic Condition (HarperCollins, 1995), On Borrowed Words (Viking, 2001), Spanglish (HarperCollins, 2003), Dictionary Days (Graywolf, 2005), The Disappearance (TriQuarterly, 2006), Love and Language (Yale, 2007), Resurrecting Hebrew (Nextbook, 2008), Mr. Spic Goes to Washington (Soft Skull, 2008), and Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years (Palgrave, 2010).

His play The Disappearance, performed by the theater troupe Double Edge, premiered at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and has been shown throughout the world. His story “Morirse está en hebreo” was made into the award-winning movie My Mexican Shivah (2007), produced by John Sayles. Stavans has received numerous awards and honors, among them a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Jewish Book Award, the Southwest Children Book of the Year Award, an Emmy nomination, the Latino Book Award, Chile’s Presidential Medal, the Rubén Darío Distinction, and the Cátedra Roberto Bolaño. He was the host of the syndicated PBS show Conversations with Ilan Stavans (2001-2006). His work has been translated into a dozen languages.


B-Word Project Event: An Evening with Azar Nafisi

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012 at 8pm ~ Carpenter Performing Arts Center, CSULB

Azar Nafisi

Best-known as the author of the national bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books—which electrified readers with its incisive exploration of the transformative powers of fiction in a world of tyranny—Azar Nafisi provides a global context of censorship as well as insight into a culture, speaking out against authoritarianism and repression. Nafisi appears on the heels of her January 2012 release, That Other World: Nabokov and the Puzzle of Exile.


Traveling Exhibition: Writing Resistance in Crisis and Collaboration


February 27th – March 12th, 2012 ~ Fine Arts Building 4, 1st Floor

ergo sum writing resistance in crisis and collaboration pia barrosIn 1985, Ergo Sum emerged as one of the most innovative illegal publishing initiatives in South America. Founded by Pia Barros, Ergo Sum publishing collective used recycled materials such as cardboard and food sacks to represent modes of political resistance and psychological asylum for individuals under siege by a military junta.

The traveling exhibition Writing Resistance in Crisis and Collaboration consists of “book-objects” in Spanish by Ergo Sum, visual and literary productions made by feminist Chileans under the Pinochet dictatorship in the 1980s.

This exhibition will be on display on the first floor of the FA 4 building on the CSULB campus from February 27th through March 12th, 2012.

Writing Resistance in Crisis and Collaboration is curated by Lucian Gomoll and Lissette Olivares.


Genre Journal: Call For Submissions

Volume 33: Censorship & Cultural Practices

Deadline: April 2nd, 2012

We welcome submissions of papers on a wide range of topics pertaining to censorship and its cultural practices globally and through time.

Call for Submissions Information

Submission Guidelines


Conference General Information

books burning print


Conference Twitter Page

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Conference Organizers

Please direct all inquiries to conference organizers:

Dr. Nhora Serrano, Dept. of Comparative World Literature & Classics

Dr. Nizan Shaked, Dept. of Art

at the official conference email:


Banned, Blacklisted & Boycotted: Censorship and the Response to It ~ The B-Word Project

b-word csulbThis conference is part of Banned, Blacklisted & Boycotted: Censorship and the Response to It (The B-Word Project), a campus-wide initiative coordinated by the Carpenter Performing Arts Center at California State University, Long Beach. The B-Word Project is made possible in part by a grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Creative Campus Innovations Grant Program, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.



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