LLEA 13186-3: China's Culture of Censorship

Instructor: Michel Hockx

Literature University Seminar

This course aims at providing students with an informed understanding of how the Chinese state censors cultural expression, whether in print, in public spaces, or online. Students will be encouraged to read widely about what censorship is, how it works, and how it can be studied. In addition to this theoretical understanding of censorship, the course will feature practical examples, not only of cultural products that were subjected to censorship in China, but also of culture that was created directly in response to censorship, or that attempts to circumvent censorship. We will look in detail at how censorship has worked in communist China in different periods, how it operates nowadays, and what the outlook for the future might be. In addition, we will discuss censorship as a global phenomenon, and learn to reflect on the limits of our own tolerance. The main aim of the course is to provide students with a more complex understanding of Chinese censorship than what is typically offered in our news media, and with the ability to critique censorship in a nuanced, fact-based manner. All readings will be in English. No knowledge of Chinese is required.

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