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Personally, the prospect of writing my dissertation was extremely exciting. I have such a deep-rooted passion for writing that I always manage to centre my graphic design practice around writing, or some semblance of it. I chose to write my dissertation on censorship in art and the affect it has on media. Specifically, looking at the act of banning books, historically and contemporarily, and the affect this has had on the reception of ideas deemed ‘heretical’ displayed in literature.


Below I have included a segment of my dissertation.

Artistic limitation, intellectual freedom, and literary censorship. The acts of imposing a ban on methods of media circulation which are attacked due to the power of the ideas depicted. Ideologies which go against the teachings of a tyrannical religious or political regime will automatically be given power, since they are dissenting against the leader. Exploring this theme of conflicting creeds, one lead by a party of immense power, the other lead by a group voicing their heretical outlooks; will bring to light the reoccurring themes of anti-intellectualism imposed by a ruler. In this case, intellectualism will be examined in the sense of the circulation of differing ideas, giving members of society the chance to build their own ethos, constructing their own perceptions of faith, whether it be faith in a God, Gods, or a political party.


To explore these ideas, I will be looking at work of authors - whose work has been banned, or completely censored - due to the ideas which are shown in writing. As well as exploring the literary censorship, I will also explore artistic limitations. Artistic constraints which are imposed upon artists, whose messages in their work are causing conflict.

In terms of art, censorship is the most common violation of artistic freedom. Artists and their art are censored due to their creative content, in which they can voice their counterarguments using visuals which will reach a wider audience than a written credo. Visuals that can be easily ingested by all, not needing a vast intellectual understanding of a niche subject in order for the ideas shown to be received. This may be on a smaller scale than governmental wide banning – any art deemed offensive by museums, or the public have been removed from displays and exhibitions. While it is known that museums are established to protest artistic freedom and defend the right of art to unsettle and shock the viewer – removing pieces of art which evoke such feelings in the viewer means that we are no longer defending the right to be unsettled and shocked. This is an act of anti-intellectualism. Filtering the media that can be seen by society, because it has been assumed to be offensive and an impertinent way to consumer media.

The main topics of discussion which I wish to tackle are these; When does an idea and the context in which it is depicted in a written piece of work, or an artwork become so unsuitable to a wider audience that it is necessary to be censored? Once this has been established, what is to stop individuals from accessing these censored materials? If, and/or, when these materials are accessed, what would the reaction or penalty be to the individual or group if the unsuitable ideas were to make a return into a mainstream media circulation?

Firstly, I want to explore the use of language, and the difference this has on the ideas it displays. Many dissident groups will use language to their advantage, creating slogan, using lingo and specially created idioms in order to further their point. Later on, I will be exploring the work of Russian conformist groups, more closely, the ones using Samizdat means to circulate their ideas. The language used in these self-published broadcastings were carefully chosen in order to properly articulate their meanings, and the way their ideas should be taken forth, and made public. In particular, the way this use of language is seen in literature.

The phenomenon known as Glossopoeia is the creating a constructed language for artistic purposes. Examples of this can be seen in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1) and Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange (2). Oldspeak, Newspeak, and Nadsat alike are imaginary languages, which are each constructed by the respective author. In both Nineteen Eighty-Four and A Clockwork Orange the golossopoeic languages are created to show members of in-groups and out-groups. Those living in Airstrip One and abiding by the laws of Oceania and Big Brother, and the members of The Droogs partaking in a bit of the old... ultraviolence. In this Nineteen Eighty-Four quote we see Oldspeak coexisting with Newspeak.


“The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc, and Ingsoc is Newspeak” he added with a sort of mystical satisfaction. “Has it ever occurred to you Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?”


We see the first proper view of Newspeak in a highly grammatically detailed appendix. No generalisations, and yet still widely coherent. Seeing the language at the end of the physical books means that the reader realises that throughout, they have been in reception of a language, or rather a dialect, that was before, entirely unknown to them. Such as with the quote shown, I believe Orwell’s act of making his characters as self-aware of the changing language as the reader was on purpose. A purpose to serve the idea that as Orwell wrote the story more, and more, not only would the reader notice changes in the lexicon, but as do the characters. Knowingly seeing changes of the way they are speaking to one another – though the reader knows that the dialogue is entirely imaginary and completely conducted by Orwell. This meta – lexicogrammar – styled – syntactic - linguistic change – utilised by Orwell means the characterisation of Winston Smith, O’Brien, and alike are so much deeper than thought prior. They have cognitive awareness of changes in the way their dialogue is received by one another, and in that sense, they also would be aware of the difference in reception to the reader. This additional layer to the already multi-faceted character makes them more sympathetic towards a reader.

This is widely the same for Nadsat. Although it is more recognisably different to a modern vernacular of English, the reader still becomes accustomed to unusual words throughout the reading of the book. We can tell that Newspeak and similarly with Nadsat, have roots in Basic English. The language they are reading was entirely based on an already existing language, then skewed, mauled, changed, remoulded, and then refined. We can think about the way that this is received by the reader. We must explore semantics, intonation, written tone – and the furtherance on differences in interpretation – and what this can mean about the ideas presented in written literature, and how this could mean that the ideas detailed are deemed unsuitable.

We have already established English as the semantic root for Nadsat and Newspeak, therefore we can also establish that the language is easily comprehensible with the reader. As well as seeing a language they can recognise and identify with, they also see the reception of the change in Speaks through the characters interactions and dialogue – presented in a language they understand, but also a language they are told is actively changing and will soon be outdated.

In many ways, Nadsat could be considered an anti-language. I would like to explore the notion of Lexicogrammar, the level of linguistic structure where lexis and syntax combine into one. Words and grammatical structures are not as seemingly independent as before, but instead they need one another and rely heavily on them. The film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange put a heavy focus on Nadsat, a life given to language through spoken dialogue. This, joined with the obviously distressing visuals and depiction of the romanticisation of rape, murder, drug taking and gang activity – lead this film, and the book to be banned.

The meaning of this analysis into Glossopoeia is to explore the power that written language or spoken linguistics can hold. The way that any language, written and spoken, has such incredible and undeniable power. Not only personally, but also how circulation of language can hold power. This idea can be extrapolated and placed into a scholarly environment, we can therefore explore books which have been banned in schools, or taken out of circulation for young people, due to the ideologies depicted, and the power they hold. The languages created by Burgess and Orwell in their writing are used as tools in the themes and story of their narratives.

Glossary of Nadsat Language

Words which do not have Russian origin are marked with an arterisk.

*appy-polly-loggy - apology

baboochka - old woman 

bezoomy - mad

Bog - God

*cancer - cigarette

chasso -guard

chelloveck - person / man / fella / fellow

*cutter - money 

devotchka - girl

*drencrom - drug

droog - friend

*firegold - drink

groody - breast

in-out in-out - sexual intercourse

keeshkas - guts

litso - face

malchick - boy

millicent - policeman

moloko - milk

pan-handle - erection

pol - sex

prestoopnik - criminal

razdraz - upset

rassoondok - mind

sharries - buttocks

*sod - to fornicate, fornication 

synthemesc - drug



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