In 1616, nearly 75 years after Nicholaus Copernicus’ theories on planetary motion first appeared in print, the Congregation of the Index of Prohibited Books ruled that copies of De Revolutionibus must be “suspended until corrected.” This was not an outright ban of the text, but a call for its “expurgation”, a practice for selectively censoring parts of books that the Catholic Church deemed suspect, dangerous, or otherwise heretical. The Congregation’s final decree, issued in 1620, called for the removal of only a few passages, as the book was “most useful and necessary to astronomy.” The history of science offers many similar cases, where useful books for scientists, doctors, and other professionals were allowed to circulate, even despite explicitly controversial content. Censoring scientific books was not at all straightforward, and readers were often allowed access to “banned” works because of the value of their content. Join Harvard professor Hannah Marcus and the Library’s Assistant Curator for Special Collections Jamie Cumby as they discuss how prohibited books were read in early modern Europe, and share examples of expurgated books held by the Library.
7pm - 8pm
Linda Hall Library
5109 Cherry Street
Kansas City, MO
After Hours with Banned Books - Online