Call For Papers

1984: Freedom and Censorship in the Media – Where Are We Now?

A conference to be hosted at the Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Sunderland’s London campus on the 23rd and 24th of April 2014.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Professor Martin Barker, University of East Anglia

Jerry Barnett, Sex and Censorship

Professor Julian Petley, Brunel University

Professor Clarissa Smith, University of Sunderland

Worries over effects of media content and technologies are never far from the headlines. When anxieties centre on protecting children and the fortification of the social fabric, regulation often seems like the first resort. The year 2014 will see the thirtieth anniversary of the 1984 Video Recordings Act (VRA): this event offers the opportunity to reflect on how and why concerns about individual media technologies and particular media genres become so important that campaigners and politicians can claim that ‘the very soul of the nation’ is at stake. Using the VRA as a starting point, this conference aims to critically examine the key issues in politics and campaigning which shape calls for censorship. If new technologies always spark old anxieties around ‘effects’ and propensities to cause ‘harm’, what might we learn from extant legislation and their implementation? As we settle into the internet age and media on demand, policing national media borders seems ever more futile, yet the clamour for legislation to protect children and society shows no signs of abating.

We invite submissions that explore issues relating to censorship which may be specific to the history, implementation and legacies of the Video Recordings Act but we also welcome papers which examine media regulation/censorship in their broader cultural contexts, which are national and international in focus and which draw connections between contemporaneous issues and their historical antecedents.

Suggested topics:

Evolving practices and technologies of media classification and/or censorship
‘Problematic’ media cultures
Regulation of representations of sex, gender and sexualities
Digital and online censorship
Oppositional voices
Protecting and questioning national borders
Campaigns and campaigners
Activism/activists and the political arena
International narratives of censorship
British regulation in a global context
National and international regulation/censorship
Documentary and avant-garde
Controversies around computer games
History of contemporary film censorship/classification
Audiences and the social experiences of censorship
Censorship and the creation of communities of dissent
Regulations and government policy

Proposals for individual papers or pre-constituted panels are welcomed. The submission deadline is 17th January 2014 and notifications of acceptance will be made by 31st January 2014. Proposals should include title, abstract (350 words), 3-5 key bibliographical references, along with the name of the presenter, institutional affiliation and biographical information (100 words). Panel organizers are asked to submit panel proposals including a panel title, a short description of the panel and information on all the papers following the guidelines listed above. Panels may consist of three speakers with a maximum of 20 minutes speaking time each.

All submissions, expressions of interest and enquiries should be sent to: