Valazza Faculty Fellow Presentation
2019-05-17 (Creation date: 2019-04-12)
- Main contributors
Nicolas Valazza; Institute for Digital Arts & Humanities
In 1950, the U.S. Customs seized various materials that Alfred Kinsey was trying to import from Europe, a circumstance that led to the federal court case “United States v. 31 Photographs etc.” Among these controversial objects were books, engravings, and photographs that were deemed “obscene” according to the legal standard of the time. In 1957, thanks to the support of the IU President Herman B. Wells and a group of lawyers involved in civil liberties activities, the Kinsey Institute won the case and was able to recover the books and artworks, which are now part of its library. The verdict of this trial greatly contributed to redefine the notion of “obscenity” in legal terms, by creating an exception for the purpose of study and research, and thus consolidating academic freedom. This interdisciplinary project, at the crossroads of literary and legal studies, will develop a digital collection of books and artworks that were seized by U.S. Customs and then apply to this corpus tools of text mining and analysis meant to identify patterns that lead to the accusation of obscenity.
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