Obscene intentions and corrupting effects

The Review of English was founded 1925 to publish literary-historical research all areas of English literature and the English language from the earliest period to the present. From the outset, RES has welcomed scholarship and criticism arising from newly discovered sources or advancing fresh interpretation of known material. Successive editors have built on this tradition while responding to innovations the discipline and reinforcing the journal’s a forum for the best new research. The 1868 decision in R. v Hicklin created a formula for evaluating works British and American courts would use for nearly a century. Chief Justice Alexander Cockburn, in a succinct phrase numerous courts would quote, explained “the test of obscenity is … whether the tendency of the matter charged as obscenity is to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences, and into whose hands a publication of this sort may fall.” Hicklin is taken as inaugurating a new era in obscenity law, shifting attention away from the author’s intentions, and towards a vague and subjective evaluation of the work’s effects. In , obscenity law always been concerned with effect rather […]

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