A History of Book Burning from the Ancient World to Today

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A History of Book Burning from the Ancient World to Today

<p>Thomas More, the 16th c humanist scholar, burned both books and heretics. The Spanish Inquisition launched by Catholic fanatical rulers staged bonfires of any writings which questioned Catholic and

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Thomas More, the 16th c humanist scholar, burned both books and heretics. The Spanish Inquisition launched by Catholic fanatical rulers staged bonfires of any writings which questioned Catholic and papal orthodoxy throughout the mediaeval period. The French scholar and theologian Abelard was forced to burn his own books by the 12th c thought police. The Christian Venetians burnt the wonderful library of Eastern Orthodox Byzantium in 1204 during the notorious 4th Crusade. The Spanish Conquistadors burnt the pagan Aztec Codices in the 16 th c but fortunately some remain for modern scholars to study.


SUGGESTED READING

  • Rebecca Knuth, Burning Books and Levelling Libraries, Extremist Violence and Cultural Destruction, Praeger, 2006
  • Mark Glickman, The Word, The Nazi Plunder of Jewish Books, Uni Press 2016


COURSE OUTLINE

  • Book burning in the ancient world, including the Diocletian proscriptions of Christians and their texts in 302 A D and the burning of Persepolis by Alexander the Great in 330 B C and the murder of the scholar and Mathematician Hypatia in Alexandria in 392 A D
  • Heretic hunters/book burners of the mediaeval period including Thomas More in the 16th C, a series of Popes and the Spanish and Roman Inquisitions.
  • Modern examples of book burners and the thought police from the 20th and 21 centuries, including the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the McCarthy era in the USA in the 1950s and Communist witch hunts


PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of the course students should be able to

  1. Discuss the political, religious and cultural motivations of those who would seek to burn books and persecute ideas.
  2. Compare and contrast the persecution of ideas across various historical periods.
  3. Relate the book burning and the actions of the thought police to contemporary and historical contexts at different times in History.