Author Date

2021

Degree Name

BA

Department

English

College

Humanities

Defense Date

2021

Publication Date

2021-03-19

First Faculty Advisor

Dr. Nicholas Mason

First Faculty Reader

Dr. Peter Leman

Honors Coordinator

Dr. John Talbot

Keywords

free speech, censorship, English literature, Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses, blasphemy, secularization

Abstract

Free speech is currently a hotly debated topic in the world of arts. This thesis traces the history and abolition of blasphemy law in England in light of its relationship with censorship in English literature. I examine the Rushdie Affair and its legacy, particularly in comparison to the Gay News trial. Building on previous scholarship, I examine the arguments that hate speech laws serve as a replacement for blasphemy law. I conclude with the suggestion that hate speech laws be amended to include a clause specifying that works of artistic merit cannot be prosecuted under such laws, mirroring the language of a similar exception under obscenity law.

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