[CFP]/Censoring, framing and regulating images in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Century United States

deadline for submissions: 
September 16, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Transatlantica (online journal of the French Association of American Studies [AFEA])

Censoring, framing and regulating images in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Century United States


Deadline for submissions: September 16, 2023

full name / name of organization: Transatlantica (online journal of the French Association of American Studies [AFEA])

contact email: adrienne.boutang@univ-fcomte.fr



This issue of Transatlantica focuses on the regulation and restriction of images and visual imagery (painting, photography, comics, film and audiovisual media) in the United States. It aims to shed light on the norms, either implicit or explicit, governing the production, circulation and reception of disturbing or controversial images. The issue will cover both explicit regulatory mechanisms - the Motion Picture Production Code, for example, or federal, state, or local governments attempts to "shape visual citizenship" through propaganda (Roeder, 1993, 2) - and more diffuse mechanisms of control or protest, including the use of public opinion (pressure groups, press, social networks, boycott and blacklisting strategies, etc.).

The question of image regulation can be approached from an aesthetic perspective (censorship as a productive force, the aesthetics of litotes, good taste, etc.) and from a social perspective (the evolution of moral standards and mores, the emergence of new standards linked to processes of domination or subordination). Restrictions on the funding (state support or private sponsorships) and publication of images will also be considered (regulation/ limitation of public grants, regulation of promotional materials, such as posters, in the public space, etc.).



Questions authors might consider include the following:


Regulation, censorship and self-censorship mechanisms and their impact:


State censorship, legal issues


Internal regulatory practices, ranging from effective censorship to self-censorship, age-based categorization, restrictions based on specific distribution/exhibition contexts (the art world, publishing, creative industries: cinema, television and social media platforms, along with modes of resistance to these restrictions, as exemplified by the launching of the virtual gallery “Don’t Delete Art” in 2020).


Audience classification (vulnerable audiences, determined by moral panic mechanisms, the impact of globalization and consideration of alternative cultural policies). Topics may also include the regulation of paratexts (trailers, exhibition posters, etc.)


Regulation through funding and distribution, from the controversies sparked by National Endowment for the Arts grants to recent debates regarding representations of minority group members.


Assessing images: criteria for the regulation and reception of images.


How does reception contribute to the restriction, framing and legitimation of images circulating in the public space?


Aesthetic, ideological and moral criteria; justification of censorship through the assumption of vulnerable audiences. Suggested topics may cover not only prohibition mechanisms, but also productive resistances.


Particular attention will be paid to the distinction between the contexts in which images are distributed and consumed, and between public and private spaces.


Studies into the reception of, and discourses surrounding, controversial or transgressive images.



Abstracts of 250-300 words, in English or in French, along with biographical statements of 150 words, should be submitted at adrienne.boutang@univ-fcomte.fr by September 16, 2023.  Authors of selected proposals will be notified by October 7, 2023. They will be invited to submit their essays for peer-review by February 5, 2024.  The journal stylesheet can be found at: https://journals.openedition.org/transatlantica/5220.



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BOURGET,  Jean-Loup. Hollywood, la norme et la marge. Paris : Armand Colin Cinéma, (1998), 2005.


BROUWER, Ceciel.  « The bigger picture. Rethinking curatorial approaches to photographs of childhood. » Curating Under Pressure, International Perspectives on Negotiating Conflict and Upholding Integrity. Dir. Janet Marstine et Svetlana Mintcheva. Londres : Routledge, 2020.


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COHEN, Karl F. Forbidden Animation: Censored Cartoons and Blacklisted Animators in America. Jefferson : McFarland, 2004.


FRASER, Nancy. « Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy. » Social Text, no. 25/26, 1990, p. 56–80.

JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/466240. Accessed 6 Jan. 2023.


JACOBS, Lea. The Wages of Sin: Censorship and the Fallen Woman Film, 1928-1942. Berkeley : University of California Press, 1997.


LYONS, Charles. The New Censors, Movies and the Culture Wars. Philadelphie : Temple University Press, 1997.


MONTAGNE, Albert. CinémAction N° 167 Violence, censure et cinéma, Corlet Publications, 2018.


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PAQUETTE, Catha, Karen KLEINFELDER, Christopher MILES. In and Out of View: Art and the Dynamics of Circulation, Suppression, and Censorship. New York : Bloomsbury Publishing USA,  2021.


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PHELAN, Peggy. « Serrano, Mapplethorpe, the NEA, and You: ‘Money Talks’: October 1989. » TDR (1988-), vol. 34, no. 1, 1990, p. 4–15. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/1145999. 4 Jan. 2023.


ROEDER, George H. The Censored War: American Visual Experience During World War Two,

New Haven : Yale University Press, 1993.


SANDLER Kevin S. The Naked Truth, Why Hollywood doesn’t make X-Rated Movies. New Brunswick, New Jersey et Londres : Rutgers University Press, 2007.


SCHAEFER Eric (dir.) Sex Scene: Media and the Sexual Revolution. Durham : Duke University Press, 2014.


SHARP, Elaine B., ‪Yvette M. ALEX-ASSENSOH. Morality Politics in American Cities. Lawrence : University Press of Kansas, 2005.


WERBEL, Amy, « ’The Crime of the Nude:’ Anthony Comstock’s Raid on the Art Students League of New York and the Origins of Modern American Obscenity, ». Winterthur Portfolio 48, no. 4 (Winter, 2014): p. 249-282.


WERBEL, Amy, « The Influence of Art Censorship on New York Collectors in the Gilded Age », Journal of the History of Collections, Volume 33,  2, Juillet 2021, p. 323–339.


WILSON, John K., « Art, Censorship and the Battles over Public spaces ». Expression in Contested Public Spaces: Free Speech and Civic Engagement. Dir. Spoma Jovanovic. Lanham, Lexington Books, 2021.