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‘Banned! A History of Censorship’: Exhibit Tour and Talk About Censorship in Yiddish Press

Sunday, March 10, 35 p.m.

Walsh Library, O’Hare Special Collections Room
Fordham University, Rose Hill Campus, 441 E. Fordham Rd.
Bronx, NY 10458
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Join us for a tour of the exhibit “Banned! A History of Censorship” and a talk by Ayelet Brinn about the censorship in Yiddish Press.

Books, libraries, librarians, and writers are subject to attacks—again. Recent book bans across the United States targeting Black history, the Holocaust, and LGBTQ themes have dominated the news. But the censorship of books has a longer history. The “Banned! A History of Censorship” exhibit explores that history, along with the practices of censorship, the methods to control and ban books and ideas, the resilience of censored works, and the attempts to push back. Authorities could ban books, but they could not destroy them or the ideas contained in them entirely. Indeed, while today some voices are heard complaining about universities not teaching major texts of “Western civilization,” many of these books were originally banned across Europe by Protestant and Catholic authorities, including works by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, David Hume, Denis Diderot, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, and more.

Major works of literature that we cherish today were also banned, among them Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and Alexander Dumas’s Three Musketeers, which were both on Index Librorum Prohibitorum or the Index of Prohibited Books. As this exhibit demonstrates, cultural, religious, and moral values are never static. They change over time. If some books and ideas become acceptable, others might become abhorrent. Because Fordham was obliged to abide by the Index of Prohibited Books until its abolition in 1966, due to its status as a Catholic and Jesuit university, the exhibit also explores how Fordham dealt with books that were included in the Index.

The exhibit is on view at the Walsh Family Library in the main exhibition hall on the first floor and in Special Collections on the fourth floor until March 15.

About the Speaker
Ayelet Brinn is the Philip D. Feltman Assistant Professor of Modern Jewish History in the Departments of Judaic Studies and History at the University of Hartford. She is the author of A Revolution in Type: Gender and the Making of the American Yiddish Press (2023). From 2019 to 2020, she was the Rabin-Shvidler Post-Doctoral Fellow in Jewish Studies at Fordham and Columbia University.