Literary Censorship Analytical Essay by scribbler

Literary Censorship
Looks at two seminal literary censorship cases in the United States, which were argued regarding offensive and obscene material.
# 152876 | 1,165 words | 10 sources | APA | 2013 | US
Published on Apr 30, 2013 in Law (Historic Trials) , Hot Topics (Censorship) , Literature (General)

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This paper explains that two Supreme Court literary censorship cases, "Memoirs v. Massachusetts", clarifying "Roth v. United States" (1957) and "Right to Read Defense Committee v. School Committee of the City of Chelsea"(1978) are paradigms for the need to protect society from dangers of obscenity and for disallowing minors from reading explicit and suggestive materials. From these cases, the author observes that one person's obscenity might be art to another person; however, there is a clear difference in the intent of a work, such as between sensuality and the celebration of the human body. The paper concludes that an individual community has a responsibility to protect its citizens from certain materials that may be offensive and harmful to the public good and thereby has the right to insist that a certain standard of morality and decency be met.

Table of Contents:
Memoirs v. Massachusetts
Right to Read Defense Committee v. School Committee of the City of Chelsea

From the Paper:

"In 1957, the Supreme Court heard two cases, Roth v. United States and Alberts v. California. Both were landmark cases that redefined the Constitutionality of what constitutes obscene materials that are then not protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Essentially, Samuel Roth was convicted for sending obscene material through the mail with a publication called American Aphrodite. David Alberts, who ran a mail-order business in California, was convicted under a California statute for publishing pictures of nude women. The Roth decision was 6-3 with the majority written by Justice William Brennan. They court said that a standard of "an average person" would find this material questionable, and that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. The Court said it could find no redeeming social importance (e.g. poetry, literature, etc.) in the publications.
"Based on the decision in Roth, for a work to be declared obscene it had to be fit a certain standard: 1) no literative value, 2) be patently offensive, 3) have no social value. The book in question in Memoirs v. Massachusetts was the 1749 book called "Fanny Hill." Because the book was written so long ago, and contained no photographs, some held that it was not obscene because it was literature, even if rather bawdy."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • "Book Censorship." March 2009. Lehigh University Celebrates the First. October 2010 <>.
  • Cline, A. "Summary of Roth v. United States." June 2008. October 2010 <>.
  • Day, N. Censorship, or Freedom of Expression? New York: 21st Century Books, 2001.
  • "Memoirs v Massachusetts." 21 March 1966. FindLaw. October 2010 <>.
  • Morse, v Frederick. No. 06-278. U.S. Supreme Court. 25 June 2007.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Literary Censorship (2013, April 30) Retrieved December 08, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Literary Censorship" 30 April 2013. Web. 08 December. 2023. <>