Monday, December 1, 2014

Censorship: Silence of the Lambskin?

On campus, I bemoan my fate each time I have to lug around my hefty textbooks. I usually force my husband to carry my Shakespeare book. However, my husband should be grateful we did not live in the time of clay papers or my books would be much heavier.
In my last post, I talked about the reasons why I read: for my imagination, understanding, problem solving, awareness, and to help others. From the library presentation, we learned about many different forms of writing in Mesopotamian/roman/medieval times. These different eras each sought for ways to write in order to also communicate with others and to spread awareness. Indeed, the simple need for a receipt in the Mesopotamian era demonstrates how necessary it is to document and record in each society. This need prevails as all people, from every generation, have a desire to remember and to record simple concepts, simple transitions, or profound memories through writing.
From the library presentation, we learned about how writing has changed throughout the years depending on the writing materials available. The Mesopotamians wrote on clay. The librarian showed to us a receipt from this era that weighed far more than a simple slip of paper. We also looked at a Roman ID made from metal, writing materials from plants and lambskin. The collected texts that the librarian showed us included the receipt, ID, the Bible and the Book of Hours.

From this presentation, we can answer the question about whether or not censorship plays a part in maintaining the morals of a society. I would argue that yes, censorship does control the morals of a society. That is, censorship allows a certain body of people to decide what will be the morals of the society and through writing, they can produce propaganda to support those morals. For example, monks wrote the Bible that the librarian showed us. The monks were able to choose what parts of the Bible they would include and also what images they would paint on the gold sleeve pages. Similarly, Dante could produce his own idea of morals and spread his ideas through his literary work. When censorship controls what writers can say (as we saw during the Roman period), then certain morals that were deemed “acceptable” are the ones that we now receive today, while other ideas were censored from the clay, metal, plant, lambskin, or paper writing supplies.


  1. It would be strange today to have to write and communicate through clay for example for just a simple receipt. It is also interesting to think about how much the media right now can censor what information people see and believe just as the monks and many other people have done in the past.

  2. I really like your title!! It's so creative!!

  3. It is so cool to learn about these people and realize that people have been using receipts and writing letters for thousands of years.... Makes me feel a little guilty for throwing away all my receipts.