War of the Words

War of the Words

The pen really is mightier than the sword. New research by UEA Professor Rachel Potter brings to light significant changes writers throughout the twentieth century have made to international legislation.

Writers from D. H. Lawrence to Salman Rushdie have long been censored, silenced and prosecuted – but literature isn’t so easily quashed. Professor Potter’s work explores the rich history of twentieth century authors’ battles with power, from legal cases against the ‘obscene’ novels Ulysses and Lady Chatterley’s Lover to attempts to silence later twentieth century authors such as Salman Rushdie.

Delving into the archives of the international organisation PEN, she demonstrates the crucial role authors have played in the on-going battle for the right to write. Uniting words and deeds, their eloquent writings and public campaigns have actively influenced government policies and international charters on freedom of expression.

This research confirms the fundamental belief animating literary study at UEA: that literature is a living force in the world.

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The Expert

Professor Rachel Potter

Professor in Modern Literature
Literature, Drama and Creative Writing

Rachel completed her PhD at King's College, Cambridge, where she also studied for her undergraduate degree.  Prior to her PhD she took the MA in 'Critical Theory' at the University of Sussex. Before joining UEA in September, 2007, she taught for seven years at Queen Mary, University of London.


She has supervised a large number of PhD students on a wide range of topics connected to modernist literature and culture, as well as literary censorship and freedom of speech.