Banned Books in Australia A Special Collections-Art in the Library Exhibition

The Resources

Related Conferences and Exhibitions

Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand’s Annual Conference for 2010 - To Deprave and Corrupt: Forbidden, Hidden and Censored Texts

Censorship in the Ancien Regime - a conference organized by Monash University and held at the State Library of Victoria on Thursday 8 July.

Lewd and Scandalous Books of the Long Eighteenth Century

The exhibition launch is the opening event in the 2010 BSANZ Conference - To Deprave and Corrupt: Forbidden, Hidden and Censored Books.

Although the Rare Books Collection at Monash University does not specialise in the collection of erotica, it is a testament to the breadth and quality of the collection that Dr Patrick Spedding has been able to put together an exhibition that so fully illuminates the
erotic book trade. The exhibition focusses on "Lewd and Scandalous Books" from the eighteenth century and the reprints of these works - many banned for hundreds of years - throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

With the exception of John Cleland’s Fanny Hill, many of the books Spedding has chosen are likely to be unfamiliar to visitors. And, although many of the topics, tropes and themes are familiar - the sex-scandals and vice of the rich and famous - these works are also
likely to have lost some of their sting in a world where the public figures are no longer known and when three or four keystrokes can unleash a flood of pornographic images. It is almost inevitable, then, that many of the books exhibited will seem a little tame and
restrained, even quaint and cute, to our eyes.

But this exhibition contains rare literary and visual material that has been restricted and suppressed and which circulated for more than two centuries only in tiny numbers in privately printed and clandestine editions. And, liberal as we undoubtedly are today, much
of it still has the power to shock. Even the most worldly among us would hesitate to quote the purple passages of Catullus, Rochester or Wilkes in public and nobody would place an unexpurgated edition of the works of these authors on the shelves of a high-school library.

Exhibition launch 14 July 2010, 5:00

Drinks and nibbles provided

Prof. Lynette Russell, Monash University Acting Dean of Arts - Welcome
Cathrine Harboe-Ree, Monash University Librarian - Welcome
Dr Patrick Spedding, Assoc. Director, Centre for the Book, Monash University - Exhibition opening

University of Melbourne Contributing Academics

David Bennett - School of Culture and Communication

Jenny Lee - School of Culture and Communication

Richard Pennell - School of Historical Studies

Online References and Articles

Australian Government Classification Board

Banned Books Online - University of Pennsylvania

Banned In Australia: Introducing Australia's Bibliography Of Banned Books - on Austlit: The Australian Literary Resource

Bill Henson Artist Profile - Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery

Explore the history of banned books in Australia, MUSSE Newsletter, issue 37, June 2010.

List of Books Banned by Governments - Wikipedia

The Little Red School Book - National Library of Australia Digital Collections


Bill Henson - Artworks, ABC Radio National boradcast 15 August 2010

Portnoy's Complaint - First Tuesday Book Club, ABC Television broadcast 6 July 2010

Access Denied - Four Corners, ABC Television broadcast 10 May 2010

Banned Books in Australia: From Moral Crusaders to National Security - The Book Show, ABC Radio National broadcast 24 August 2007

The Satanic Verses Affair - Compass, ABC Television broadcast 26 July 2009


'Danish Imams Propose to End Cartoon Dispute', The Brussels Journal, 7 February 2006.

David Freedberg, The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of Response, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989, pp. 407-21.

Kate Gilchrist, 'Does Blasphemy Exist?', Art Monthly Australia, no. 106, December 1997-February 1998, pp. 7-8.

D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover: 50th Anniversary Edition, with an introduction by Geoffrey Robertson, Penguin, 2010 [forthcoming].

Lesley Power, 'The Vice Squad, the Artist and the Community: Whose Morality? Whose Moral Rights?', Australian and International Art Monthly, no. 11, June 1988, pp. 26-8.

Geoffrey Robertson, 'The Edge of Obscenity', The Australian Literary Review, November 3 2010, pp. 10-11.

Geoffrey Robertson, The Justice Game, London: Chatto & Windus, 1998, pp. 8–13.

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